Russia: Abolition culture: the play Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes was withdrawn because of the author's anti-war stance

Feminist Anti-War Resistance/FAS (Russia)
November 14, 2022

At the start of a full-scale invasion, Russian propaganda constantly resorted to the story of how the great Russian culture had fallen victim to the “culture of abolition” of the collective West. So far, however, Russian culture has been abolished mainly in Russia itself - from lists of musicians banned from performing because of their civic stance, to Russian filmmakers refusing to take part in international awards because they allegedly “contradict Russian values”.

Yesterday, the Bashkir Drama Theatre named after Mazhit Gafuri cancelled its production of Zuleikha Open Your Eyes yesterday because the writer, Guzel Yakhina, whose novel it is based on, is against the war.

"Today Russian tanks are marching on foreign soil. I can hardly believe it. The inner opposition to it runs so deep that it makes me want to howl. It's hard to choose words, all of them not strong enough. Bitterness, anger, fear, powerlessness - to an infinite degree. The news of February 24, 2022 has crushed me. My world is not upside down, just - shattered. I write on my own behalf, but all my acquaintances and friends feel the same way. There is not a single person in my inner and outer circle who supports this war", wrote Guzel Yakhina on February 28.

As an explanation for cancelling the performance, the theatre administration said that it "supports the special military operation that Russia was forced to conduct in Ukraine," "a world in which for eight years neo-Nazis and fascists have been killing our brotherly people is unacceptable to us, the cultural workers," and the theatre "is called to promote unified spiritual values for the Russian people.”

Apparently, there is no better way to show that neo-Nazis are in Ukraine than to ban a play based on the book by a Tatar writer about a Tatar peasant woman who was forcibly deported to Siberia.