Sergei Lebedev at Literary Hub:
Moscow is emptying out. Friends, old flames, are leaving. There’s a strange light in familiar windows. Even the city itself, as a space of the memory, belongs now to a past epoch, estranged from many of us who remain.
Walking the streets of the Russian capital today, those of us who were born in the 1970s and 80s realize we were born in a country that no longer exists. We came of age of the 90s, when the Russia that existed then came to us freely, without conditions, like a gift from history. We were spoiled by fate; we felt it was enough to express ourselves in informal signs of community—we waved white ribbons in 2011 to protest flawed elections, but discovered that ribbons were no match for red tape—than in institutional forms of solidarity and democracy: we started few political parties, joined power in few professional unions or public organizations. And so it turned out it was enough for the atmosphere to change, and all of a sudden our generation could only watch; history closed in on us.
Today, it can be said that history is no longer the past, but is walking each step with us. We increasingly perceive uncomfortable parallels with the 1920s and 30s. That we debate which age we’re closer to—the terror of Lenin or the terror of Stalin—speaks volumes about our present situation.