Viktor Shenderovich, Writer and Satirist

Universal experience tells us
That kingdoms perish
Not because the life is hard
Or the suffering great
They perish because —
And the longer it takes, the more painful it is —
People no longer respect
Their Kingdoms.

Bulat Okudzhava wrote this in reference to the Soviet empire.



If the Soviet empire ever had a serious ideology, then today everything boils down to snatching up and consuming more. This is a larcenous ideology — it can’t be sustained for long. And now the nation is holding on only thanks to expensive freebie oil. Any country where the government begins to associate itself with bloodsucking and pressure, where it impedes people’s lives, eventually becomes unbearable. In captivity, man is not productive. His thoughts are not productive, and his soul does not grow. People start to run, and those who don’t run take to drinking or build a cocoon around themselves. It seems to me that the most obvious possibility today is, unfortunately, ordinary deterioration, the slow hemorrhaging of people from the country. There doesn’t seem to be a war, but one after another, people are leaving the country. Everyone who values dignity and doesn’t want to live in the shadow of Lubyanka tries to resist in Russia, and the rest vote with their feet.

George Bernard Shaw said that the most important history lesson is that no one learns from history. But history is cruel — it's a system of deferred penalties, — and those who are inflicting punishment on [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky and [Platon] Lebedev aren’t thinking about the fact that a punishment awaits them and their children as well. One way or another, they will pay this delayed price.

Fidel Castro once said, “Motherland or death.” Today Russia faces the following choice (please excuse the grandiloquence): the motherland or the Administration. I hope that, in the near future, we as a society will awaken and understand that everything happening in Russia has an immediate connection to our lives, and that we will make a choice in favor of our motherland.


Victor Shenderovich is by training a theatre instructor and has taught stage movement at GITIS (now the Russian University of Theatre Arts). Since 1992, he has worked in television, creating films about Zinovy Gerdt and Gennady Khazanov. From 1995 to 2003, he was a scriptwriter for the satirical TV show Kukly, and wrote and hosted the programs Itogi and Besplatny Syr. He was a two-time winner of the Taffy award (in 1996 and 2000). Since the elimination of independent television in Russia, he has worked for the radio stations Ekho Moskvy and Radio Svoboda. He has also worked as a columnist for the magazine The New Times since 2007.

He is a recipient of several prestigious literary and journalistic awards, including the Golden Ostap, the Golden Feather of Russia, and the Journalism as a Deed Award. He was also awarded the Moscow Helsinki Group Award.

Shenderovich is also a public figure. In 2003, he was one of the founders of the opposition group “Komitet 2008.” He ran for a seat in the State Duma of the Russian Federation as an independent candidate and wrote the book Nedodumets, or How I Beat Mark Twain (2005) about his election campaign. In 2010, he organized an anti-fascist meeting in Moscow called “Moscow for All.” That same year, he signed an open letter called “Putin Should Resign,” which was part of a public campaign demanding the dismantlement of the ruling regime in Russia.