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"We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales". Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

Sashko Lirnyk

Sashko Lirnyk is a Ukrainian writer and storyteller whose scripts were used to make the popular films "The Banner of Hell, or Cossack Christmas" and "The Black Cossack". Many generations of Ukrainians grew up with his fairy tales.

In an interview with OBOZ.UA, the popular writer explained why he can't write about the war now, and reacted sharply to the scandal that Kvartal 95 has been involved in. The comedians published an issue in which, according to social media users, they allow themselves to humiliate those who wear military uniforms.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- Sashko, how do you live during the war?

- It's not good, because all my thoughts are about one thing. If I hadn't been holding on to my job by the skin of my teeth, I would probably have died by now. But what am I going to complain about? Everyone lives like this now. Friends are dying, children of good Ukrainians... I don't write anything about the war, the wound is so deep. I try to hold on to what I'm good at - writing for children. I write a lot of things now, but they are, you know, worldview things that will always be eternal.

In my opinion, only those who are sitting in a trench have the right to write about the war. His words are the only ones that are true. And I don't want to parasitize on it, I won't, and I don't know how to do it. What am I going to tell you if I wasn't there, if I didn't smell the gunpowder? About the past, our ancient history - you can look for philosophical meanings there. As for the current war, it should be a documentary at most.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- One of the last posts on your Facebook page was about the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, where you suggested that the "Kvartal" was an FSB operation to make Ukrainians refuse to defend Ukraine. Why do you think people applaud such speeches?

- Let me put it this way: any society consists of patriots, passionaries - people who have the desire and potential to change the world for the better, retrogrades - enemies of progress, those who want to bring back the past, and some part of, excuse me, cattle. And this part of Ukrainians does not care about the war and is not interested in it. They are evaders, and they are proud of it. And their needs are purely animalistic. The guys who are dying are also protecting them, but these people have no conscience, no concept of it.

I don't understand how Kvartal 95 can film and broadcast such things. This is a terrible crime against us all. And there must be punishment for this. Don't pay attention to their excuses that they are donating and helping the frontline. Your money is bloody, it is not needed. I can't put words to paper about the war, and they are laughing at the military. I remembered a good English expression: in a hangman's house, you don't joke about the rope. During the war, when the wounds are so fresh... It's not funny!

This is not the case when humor supports. This is a variant that devalues. And those who watch this, "like" it, thank it with applause - it's clear that they don't care who is sitting above them. They just want to pour beer down their throats and laugh - nothing else is interesting. But when trouble touches them personally, they will cry bloody tears. But they hope it won't.

And the Kvartalists and people like them do not associate themselves with Ukraine. "You cannot serve God and mammon" is a saying from the Gospel. In today's language, "serving mammon" means caring only about enrichment. And they don't see the difference who to serve. They seem to be patriotic and have switched to the Ukrainian language. But they remained cattle that only cut "coupons" from this poor country. When the going gets tough, they'll run abroad, and everyone has a house somewhere.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- How do you fight this?

- I don't know, because I am not a statesman. We are at war, the country should switch to a military mode, at least in information policy. Instead, we are shown on TV how everything is fine, they say, tomorrow we will drink coffee in Crimea. And people are dying, but instead of the truth, we are lulled to sleep with fairy tales. And the giggles are occasionally masked by noise on the air.

Of course, you can't just cry all the time, you have to smile too. But this humor must be healthy. Now is not the time to laugh at the military. I grew up in the Soviet Union, and I remember a lot of things. We laughed at the Germans, but to ridicule and devalue our own? This is a grave sin. You're from Ukraine, isn't anyone in your country at war? I can't open my mouth, I have to find my words for a long time when I speak to the military, and they react like this.

The other day we were holding a book festival in the capital, and a lot of military people came up to me. They said (I was pleased): "We can't watch anything at the front line-no movies, nothing. We only watch your fairy tales on YouTube." Well, because they are about the eternal-mom, children, homeland. Think about this: who will fight if there is no motivation? The Russians are motivated because they are pumped with propaganda from morning to night. In our country, on the contrary, everything goes to dehumanization.

How can you, for example, sell a T-shirt with the inscription "evader"? Such people should be punished. But the authorities do nothing because of the lack of Ukrainian state policy. Imagine what it's like for a person whose relatives are at war and who is afraid of every call from an unknown number, who does not sleep or eat - he is so worried. And she is shown this... I don't know who writes these jokes, but I do know. These are people who don't care about Ukraine. Today, at six in the morning, I took my son to the military registration and enlistment office to renew his military records. But they are not standing. And if they do, they are not taken away because they have armor. And they giggle to themselves. This is beyond the pale.

There should be criminal liability in the end. For damage to the military, humiliation, etc. I've heard what MPs think about this, but something tells me that none of this will happen. And so it turns out: on the one hand, the enemy is attacking, and on the other hand, they are gnawing at their own like rats. And they are not stupid, they know exactly what they are doing. And we continue to suffer losses - personally, I have already suffered a lot of them.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- One of these losses is the sudden death of your friend, the writer Dmytro Kapranov...

- Dmytro's death is the loss of a piece of my life. Thanks to my brothers (as I always call them), I became a storyteller and started writing. They pulled me out. I made my first appearance as a writer at their Ukrainian festival in Moscow, where I came to visit them from Murmansk. The Kapranov brothers are titanic figures, invaluable to Ukraine. I was very impressed that no one from the current government came to Dmitry's funeral. The Kapranovs are the people who made this state, created it, and raised it. And you are taking advantage of them, parasitizing them, and not even thanking them. Why is that? Because this is not their country, not their people.

- Sashko, tell us about the period when you lived in Russia. How did you end up in Murmansk?

- It was back in the days of the Soviet Union. The policy then was to mix nationalities to create one Soviet people. Ukrainians were sent to the North and the Far East, and Russians were sent here. I graduated from the Maritime University in Odesa, a shipbuilder by profession. Nowadays you get a diploma and look for a job. Back then, I had to go wherever they told me to go. Some of them returned later, like me, and those who got used to it stayed. I couldn't live there. And in the second year I created a Ukrainian community. We had a Sunday school there and published a newspaper.

However, he left everything at the first opportunity - his job, his home. And he came back here, practically from scratch. I went to work at a construction site as a simple laborer. And I must say that I worked there for quite a long time. And only then did I start doing what I should have done long ago: publishing my fairy tales. And the Kapranovs always supported me. When they returned from Moscow, where they had lived for some time, I was already here. They also acted in my movies. In the script of the movie Black Cossack, I specifically wrote roles for them. These guys are my life.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- At Dmitriy Kapranov's funeral, you said in a commentary to our publication that, as a storyteller, you see the other world. As someone who is familiar with mysticism, why didn't the Russians pay attention to this? Why didn't they realize from the very beginning that they shouldn't attack us because "you will do as the witch says, enemy"?

- They are not attacking because there is a reason. This is the psychology of the horde - to capture and absorb other nations. And the fact that Ukraine is fighting back is precisely because we have rooted this land. In addition, we are people with a different mentality. They fall down on their knees and kiss the tsar's hand. But in our country (I always give this example), when the hetman was elected, they put mud on his head so that he knew where he came from. I also have this in my movie The Banner of Hell, or a Cossack Christmas. This is our psychology: we don't make gods out of people, we don't worship the authorities. In Russia, one policeman chases a thousand Protestants, and everyone runs away from him. And here, on the contrary, everyone fights.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- What particularly struck you when you were researching Ukrainian traditions, which are usually abundant in fairy tales?

- I once had a relative, Uncle Zhenya, may he rest in peace. By the way, he lived in Russia. But for a long time he researched the chronicles of our family. And when he died, it turned out that he had bequeathed those papers to me. I read this story. It describes, for example, that when there were two orphans left in our family, a very distant relative took them in. He raised them as his own. And then he divided his inheritance equally between his own and other people's children. For Ukrainians, there are no other people's children, we are all relatives. And our task is to preserve our unique traditions and sense of kinship. I was also brought up under the Soviet Union - they tried to make me a Soviet person, but my family (my parents were teachers) also instilled other values.

- How did you manage to erase this Sovietness from yourself later?

- I didn't have to erase anything. I knew that this was mine and this was someone else's. That was all. For some reason, I remember my delight when I saw a car with Ukrainian license plates for the first time. I could hardly breathe with happiness! Here it is - ours. And in Murmansk, another story brought me to tears. A Ukrainian village choir came to a celebration. And when I heard them, I just burst into tears. I had never known the songs they sang, but it all sits inside us. And at some point it wakes up. That's why they say that every Ukrainian has an embroidered shirt under his or her skin. And it comes out when the enemy cuts your chest with a saber. These are lofty words, but they really make sense.

The sense of family is also at the genetic level. This is our land. We have not moved anywhere since Trypillian times. It's them: here they raided, there they stole. A nomadic horde that has no home. But we do. Wherever you are, you are drawn back to the yard where you were born. Maybe you don't remember it anymore, but you want to go there, your soul asks.

- Do you have any relatives or friends in Russia?

- Friends and godson. When the Great War started, I called them, and they called me: "Oh, we don't get involved in politics!" And we no longer communicate because there is nothing to talk about. Another relative called from Moscow and told his sisters that they were "fascists and Banderites." They were crying: "What are you talking about? You used to come to us every year." What can I say: propaganda can change the consciousness of an entire nation in a few years.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- Have you been interested in fairy tales since childhood?

- Yes, but for some time I didn't think it would be my profession. I was always inventing and writing something. I created my first fairy tale when I was four years old, and then it just went from there. You know, I once visited the village where my father was born, and I was struck by the following. It was a village like any other, neglected, like all settlements under the communists. And one man's yard was just filled with sculptures. He is an ordinary collective farmer, but he feels like this - he wants to create.

''We are lulled to sleep with fairy tales''. Sashko Lirnyk talks about the lies on TV, the scandalous issue of Kvartal 95, and the effectiveness of Russian propaganda

- Do you feel a return from the children you give your fairy tales to?

- That's what keeps me going. Money can't buy it. And recently I felt so happy! The Book Country Festival, Saturday evening, a bunch of people. And here comes a child on a scooter, a little boy of about five years old. And from a distance he shouts: "Lirnyk Sashko! Lirnyk Sashko!". Everyone froze. He stopped in front of me and said very seriously: "Sashko Lirnyk, I want you to live a long time!"

Before that, I was going to die. It seemed that I was of little use anymore, but if the children needed me, I had to hold on. When the military come up to me and say that they grew up with my fairy tales and thank me for a happy childhood, I am very pleased. But I would give everything in the world to keep these children from dying.

- On your Facebook page, you often post quite frank and harsh posts. Do they come from haters?

- Yes, I am harsh, so what now? It's just the way I am. Besides, I'm tired of the crap - both yours and ours. If it's shit, why should I say it's not? I have nothing to be afraid of, I've already lived. I know my haters - I see them from time to time, the same ones come out. Let them write nasty comments, I don't care. I'm not arguing with anyone, I'm just posting my thoughts online. And it seems to me that I think I am thinking correctly.

- How do you think we should keep our spirits up?

- Oh, you ask such a question... If we were a small country, we would have died long ago. But we are holding on. And what should we do next? Continue to educate the younger generation, because traditions will preserve us-family, customs. And time is still working for us. The "Soviets" will die out, the pro-Russian ones will flee or die, because they are now pointing missiles at themselves and their cities. As every mother says: if you grind it, you will get flour. Everything will fall into place. Nothing lasts forever - neither wars nor occupiers - they also end. And we need to unite more strongly, because this is the only way to withstand the invasion.

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