BALTIC-BLACK SEA TEXT • October 19, 2017
...and Gallic's shaft
of wit, and German’s gloomy genius. - Alexander Blok
October 10, 2017
“It is extremely difficult to have jokes about presidents approved”, Kolchin said, and added that in those rare cases when presidents are allowed to be mentioned, “it is always done in the form of compliments and worship”. Mr. Kolchin went on to describe the working environment at KVN as one with “multiple filters”, meaning that he and his colleagues were instructed “not to make fun of this or that topic, not to mention this or that name”. As an example, Kolchin explained how he and his team had written and directed a sketch with a song about an apartment owner who wants to renovate his flat, basing the song on a popular Russian pop song called “Change”.
As a sign of the sensitivity of the topic of censorship in a highly popular TV show, a number of publications followed in Kremlin-loyal media, all of which tried to downplay Mr Kolchin’s testimony. For example, KVN’s management deemed it necessary to comment on the issue of presidential jokes, as reported by RIA: ” If there had been such a ban, then there would have been nothing to show on the TV screen. Such stupidity”, a spokesperson said. It is difficult not to interpret this reaction, in particular the use of the word ”stupidity”, as a sign that Mr. Kolchin must have hit a nerve.
On the other hand, “belonging” to Europe is complicated. We are living in an age where the unknitting of ties within – and quite possibly the disintegration of – the European Union is part of a major reshaping of a continent that has dominated global affairs since the expeditions of Columbus and Vasco da Gama. We are experiencing a time of extraordinary challenge to the concepts of free movement of peoples, of a refugee crisis that has met with little agreement amongst European countries and even less action, and of paralysed economies devastated by deep rooted causes. It is not just what it means to be Russian that is complex; so too what it means to be European.