Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vladislav Surkov on Allen Ginsberg

Russian businessman Vladislav Surkov's response to Western sanctions being imposed against him as a result of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

I see the decision by the administration in Washington as an acknowledgment of my service to Russia. It's a big honor for me. I don't have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don't need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.

I'm not sure how Allen would take such a comment, were he alive today. He'd be wryly amused, probably.

But Allen's memory of Russia ran as deep as the 20th century. He cultivated a relentless disdain for Joseph Stalin and would, at the least prompting, recite a litany of Stalin's crimes and the crimes of the Soviet state against the likes of Osip Mandelstam, Joseph Brodsky, Anna Ahkmatova, Eugenia Ginzburg, and many others.

Allen Ginsberg was a tireless voice on behalf of many persecuted artists in the former Soviet Union. He would harbor no illusions about present-day Russia, about Vladimir Putin, or about the fate of free speech in today's glowering Russian nation.

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