WHO IS HE
Novelist, poet, satirist, playwright, broadcaster. In the 1960s — the captain of the Odessa KVN team, 1986-1990 artistic Director of the Comedy TV program “the Gentleman-show”. The founder of the Club of Odessa gentlemen, the Vice-President of worldwide club of Odessites, editor of the magazine “Fountain”. Winner of the prize “Golden Ostap”
Valeriy Khait — Odessa legend alive, and active. Now he found himself in the spotlight as the founder of the literary prize named after Isaac Babel, caused a lot of disputes in the cultural environment
We talk to you the next day after the anniversary of the tragedy in the House of trade unions. Looks like Odessa 2 may 2017?
— Odessa spring. Green color filled all around. Is about to break out the siren. Yesterday I did a bit of walking in the Shevchenko Park. Meet me in the alley were a married couple with twins, on the benches sat the old woman, the owners were walking their dogs. It would seem that the God of mercy, life goes on. I actually wishful thinking.
Still on the eve and on this day, in the atmosphere, feel the tension and anxiety, and it would be strange if it did not arise after such a terrible event. The news reported two backpacks with explosives found on the Kulikovo field, that the House of trade unions were allegedly double-mined. People were there with flowers, had to pass through a metal detector, stood around a huge number of police and National guard soldiers. These security measures might seem excessive, but I do not consider such. Scalded milk, it is better to blow on the water.
I myself did not go there. Not because such careful and impressionable, just too many questions that are still unanswered. Since people died on both sides, and in fact, on the one hand — from Odessa, this is our common challenge and a common sorrow. Yes, yesterday there were principled anti-Maidan supporters, but was attended by no less principled activists of the nationalist wing, which lately manifest themselves particularly active. But I don’t think those people down there dominated. Odessa just came to lay flowers.
That all changed in the city over three years after the Euromaidan?
— Odessa has changed, probably the same way, how did the Ukraine. In Odessa, too, was the independence — of course, not as numerous as in Kiev, but near the Duke was going thousands. Now these people disappointed. Maidan once again gave hope for the progress in civilized life, common sense, and again it did not work then, fought and hoped. I don’t know how many Maidan to this closed-minded, concreted the system is cracked.
“Odessa, unlike Lviv, is dualistic. Is Odessa of Isaac Babel, Ilf and Petrov, Kataev, Olesha, zhvanetskogo, Gilels, Oistrakh, Odessa and is of Teddy jap. Mind you, I’m talking of Teddy jap and not benny Creek”
But with all the disappointment Odessa relies on life. That is love, there is spring, there are children, there is nature. However, even nature this year trying to change their rules, and suddenly in the middle of spring and autumn has arrived. I even thought, do people their behavior has an impact on nature? But no, the spring takes over, and lilacs, whatever it was, will bloom. And after the lilacs will be blooming acacia. Isn’t it a reason for optimism?
How do you feel about the results of Mikheil Saakashvili? It seems that all the inhabitants of Odessa in the period of his governorship turned either his supporters or opponents.
Can’t say I remember all that he has done for Odessa, but on the Internet there are quite long lists of his successful actions and initiatives. Personally, I supported him, despite the accusations of populism. I realize there are populists of God; by the way, it’s like saying “the villain is from God,” — is kind of an oxymoron. Here, for example, Oleg Lyashko, a populist is really from God. And when he’s telling the truth and lying when he has exactly the same pathos.
Saakashvili told and telling the truth. He’s just so interested in how to communicate it to the people that uses every opportunity. He is a politician and acts like a politician. I know about the results in Georgia, in which I have no doubt — I have many friends who have visited there and told in detail about the successful period of his presidency. Now, when Saakashvili for several years in Ukraine, he creates a new political force and also serves wherever possible. Of course, it is not without flaws. But by the nature of the fighter. And, I think, the winner.
You were one of the founders of Odessa Humorina. Say, now it has turned into something obscene — you agree with that?
To present humor, I am, shall we say, better than the current WHC. Although this year, when it was again allowed, it was well organized, there were some young guys, they tried to do something new. In addition, the “Mask” for several years carried out on 1 April, the international festival “Komediada”. I’m actually more fond of words than gestures, but Deliev and the company is wonderful and very creative lot come up with.
If to speak about the General level, it corresponds to the time. It’s hard not to notice that throughout the former Soviet Union began the era of decadence. The coordinates have shifted, was no longer allowed, and because people really get off on taboo subjects and profanity, the market reacted accordingly. In the West the market has existed for a long time, and during that time found ways to limit its negative influence on culture. And we have it recently, and deterrence mechanisms yet.
The two main tourist cities is Lviv and Odessa, but I think that Odessa clearly losing Lviv atmosphere.
— Odessa, unlike Lviv, is dualistic. Is Odessa of Isaac Babel, Ilf and Petrov, Kataev, Olesha, zhvanetskogo, Gilels, Oistrakh, etc., and Odessa there Bears jap. Mind you, I’m talking of Teddy jap and not benny Creek. There is a myth of Odessa, based on a bad exoticism, on the compliance of Russian grammar, even on some vulgarity. To accuse fans of this myth that they are not cultured and are poorly educated, there is no sense of someone like that.
Lviv is in this sense easier. It strengthens the wholeness that was there before. But if the lions announced today is not a day of the Russian language as it was right after the Euromaidan, and, say, a month, it generally would be.
And Odessa are ready to declare a month of the Ukrainian language?
— In response to the month of the Russian language in Lviv, I personally would be screaming about the month of the Ukrainian language in Odessa at all angles. I must say that after the Maidan, I had a fresh idea of the festival “Lviv in Odessa, Odessa in Lviv.” We even seriously discussed with the famous Estonian civil diplomat Meeli Kubitsa (by the way, honorary member of world club of Odessites). It was necessary to consolidate the slogan which was heard on the Maidan: “One country, two languages”.
No, I understand that the state language in the country should be only one. Over the centuries it has undergone a lot and needs support. But this does not exclude the fact that Ukraine is bilingual. By the way, I offer my linguistic formula for Ukraine to help Ukrainian, Russian not to interfere. Lviv, a beautiful cultural city with great service, would become for me truly European, if proved in a civilized manner and in the language policy.
Odessa region after the annexation of Crimea and occupation of Donbas — the Russian-speaking region. And perhaps the most Pro-Russian. Don’t you think that there is a direct connection?
— I think the problem is extremely simple. For Ukraine is not good example no country in the linguistic sense it is quite unique. 350 years of a joint life with Russia cannot be compared with 50 years occupied the Baltic States. They say that Putin’s aggression has United the country, but what’s next? How can the unity of the country to stand for hate? I want to create a unified country and actually trying to make it the same. The conviction of Mr. Viatrovych and his ilk that if we call the streets in Russian cities, the names of the heroes of the UPA, then we will soon have the country which was the dream is delusion.
Did you notice: everything lately makes the power in favor of radical nationalists who consider Ukrainian nation title, is on the hands of Putin! It just amazes me. When he said that the trains with the Bandera going to defend Crimea, we all laughed. Now Putin says: what did I tell you? He’s already wiped his hands from their constant Pomerania.
Yes, the war is a disaster. Her people are dying. But like any protracted affair that are relevant malodostoynye and cynical audience, it becomes profitable. On hatred, the cultivation of hatred villains earn money, not even knowing that this threatens the very existence of the country.
Let’s talk about something more pleasant. How did the idea of the prize of Babel, which opened this year its first season?
— It all started with the idea of a monument to Babel. I remember I was walking down Alexander Avenue and saw the newly installed monument to Ivan Franko, the 150th anniversary of his birth. Noticed that the monument is good, thought that the cities need more monuments to outstanding people of the country. And let Franco was in Odessa just passing through, he is one of the leading figures of Ukrainian culture: a poet, novelist, philosopher… But then why in Odessa there is a monument to Babel?
“War is a disaster. In it, people are dying. But like any protracted case, which has to do with malodostoynye and cynical audience, it becomes profitable. On hatred, the cultivation of hatred villains earn money”
I spoke about this in world club of Odesa citizens, and because the state did not to be expected, we decided to raise money themselves. By the way, I want to emphasize that this occurred during the time of Yanukovych and did not feel that the power of such initiative will not support. We collected money, the municipality held a competition which was won by an outstanding sculptor Georgy Frangulyan, and 4 September 2011 the monument to Babel in Odessa was opened.
Then came the idea award in the name of Babel. I consulted with my friends from Moscow, we have developed provisions to consult with lawyers. Then for obvious reasons there was a pause, and in 2015 I went back to this thread and shared it with Saakashvili. He led her through the regional Council, so the premium was to be financed from the budget.
What prevented you?
— The fact that I conceived it as a prize for a story written in Russian. And then from all sides began: why only in Russian? I say literary awards in Ukraine for works in the Ukrainian language more than a hundred, and in Russian there are only a few municipal. And since this is the Odessa prize, then why can’t it be in Russian?
Because Ukraine is not at war with language and even with Russia, I, despite everything, deeply convinced. She fights with Putin and his camarilla. But if to speak about Russians, that they are victims of Putin’s propaganda, which was equally successful as Nazi propaganda after coming to power of Hitler. That’s really what exactly is a weapon of mass destruction is propaganda.
Putin is not eternal, someday it will go away. And Ukraine with Russia, if not blood brothers, then certainly the brothers together shed. In the great Patriotic war killed half a million Ukrainians. So here, I hope at least there is a double relationship to that against which they fought together?
There are, no doubt. It is now commonly believed that the Ukrainians enslaved by Stalin’s Empire, fighting against other empires — Nazi, Nazi. By the way, don’t forget, we no longer have the great Patriotic war — is the Second world war.
— Yes, I understand. Maniac people are able to come up with any casuistic formulation. The already mentioned Mr. viatrovych once said: “the so-called Day of liberation of Odessa”. How can you say that? I used to think that the era of wars and revolutions was that technical progress is linked to progress in human relationships, and we are again somewhere roll.
So what happened with the award of Babel?
— When I was told that there should be the Ukrainian language, or from the budget to Fund it cannot be, I said, well, it has its own logic. If so, we move the award year, reformat it from the public to the award of a public organization, done by the founder of the world club of Odessa residents and the sponsor is a private person. (By the way, this is one of the members of the Presidential Board of the club, worthy man, who asked not to be named.) And now it will be the Odessa international award named after Isaac Babel for best story (novel) in Russian.
Acceptance of manuscripts already completed, may 15, we will announce a long list, 10 June — short and 13 July in the Golden hall of the Literary Museum, the birthday of Babel will take place the solemn ceremony. I can only add that on the eve of the 12th, the idea is the same Meelis of Qubits (without the quotes is a real hot Estonian guy) will host a literary flash mob “reads Odessa, Odessa read”. It will sound works of the writers of Odessa, and famous, and modern, in various languages.
And I will say that my dream about Odessa as a city of festivals is coming true. In June will be a wonderful festival of Classics Odessa, organized by pianist Alexey Botvinov, in July — a literary feast, followed immediately butt — Odessa international film festival. And how many small local festivals posters just full!
Know why so many of them? Because it is a natural need — to get away from the absurdity that surrounds us. Because to live in constant fear and insecurity is impossible.
Valery, tell me… You’re 78 years old. Where such incredible spirits and such an amazing youthful enthusiasm?
— I sometimes ask: “why do you look so young?”
I say “relatively clean Conscience”.