Mira Khalikova, a member of the Youth Parliament, a teacher of the humanities, social activist, known in Kirov for holding performance actions. She "hangs noodles" on those who believe the Kremlin propaganda, sits with a fishing rod on the Teatralnaya square against the law on paid fishing or takes to the square with illiterately written posters against education reforms. Journalist of «7x7» found out how hard it is today for the usual historian teacher to have her own point of view and to try to bring it to the citizens.
How did your story of protests start?
— I was fond of political actions, when I was a member of the KPRF party. Basically I invented something cheerful. For example, when they wanted to introduce a law on paid fishing, I sat and fished on the Teatralnaya Square. When they started an educational reform, I gathered people with posters like, for example: "Putin is our president", but the text was completely illiterate.
What do you want to get across with these protest actions?
— When I take to the square and hold actions, I do it for those who are afraid to have an opinion different from the other’s. I make the actions exaggerated, with amplifications. Despite the fact that it is a subvertisement for me, the others may reflect seriously on topics raised by me. Today we need to notice what is going on under our noses, in our region, and not to be glad that Russia annexed Crimea. What do we need Crimea for? We are not even ready for spring in our town, for example. You go from work knee-deep in mud. Actually, I'm into the theory of small deeds. As they say: constant dropping wears away a stone.
Did you have any problems according to the results of the action?
— I've arranged a lot of public actions in my life. And after them I had problems at the university. When I studied there was a pressure from Prorector for security. They "repressed" those who thought differently. Two years ago they opened a case of extremism on the basis of one action, where I was a witness. Then I broke up with the party and couldn’t do anything.
That means that you haven’t been engaged in social activities for two years and just recently held an exaggerated action "Hang noodles on your ears" against the Kremlin propaganda. Did the lid come off?
— Yes, I couldn’t endure in the current situation. I intentionally watched all the live programs from Kiev. Three days running I’ve been watching television to understand why they show it to us. The main rhetoric was: Yanukovych is the legitimate president, Banderists are bandits, and they must be punished. At first I thought that everything is to tighten our regime. But after 3 days I realized that Russia brings troops there.
You are concerned about the events that occur in the world today, in particular about accession of Crimea. Do you have, as a historian, a restriction of free speech?
— As a historian, I can see where the events, that are currently taking place around the world and Russia, lead to. But the problem is that I am still engaged in teaching activities, and I can’t discuss these issues and also do it in public. The point of view can’t be expressed even in social networks, as it can be perceived in two ways, and I can be removed from teaching. So for the first time I’ve just been keeping silence. Students often ask me: "And what is your opinion on the bringing of troops to Ukraine, accession of Crimea?" And I can’t speak because my opinion will go against the main line of the state.
You also opposed the action, held by the Youth Parliament in support of the youth of Crimea. Members of parliament said that three-quarters of the books from Crimea in Russian "were burned by Banderists", then they collected the books to be sent. Do you think such actions draw attention away from real problems?
— As for the actions, now it is not a critical issue there. It's like in a book by Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451", when they began to destroy the books and any dissidence. I don’t think that it happens in Crimea. By the way, its citizens wouldn’t have allowed something like this, as the majority of people voted for accession to Russia. We draw attention away from many problems by using Crimea. How many laws were enacted on the sly? For example, the law of citizenship: for the people of Tajikistan the time they can stay and work in Russia extended. Also the law of rental apartments, which will affect many students who simply have nowhere to live, as many of them are renting apartments of old ladies.
What should ordinary citizens do during revolution, political conflicts and rigid propaganda in the world?
— The only thing you need is to think for yourself and know how to choose. I understand that it’s all worse in villages, it’s complicated for them in this sense. But there is the internet, and they already started to think differently. I don’t understand how in this amount of time, that is two weeks, after the end of our Olympics and before the accession of Crimea, the people were dumbed down. I even had a dispute with my mother. I was afraid that even my relative, who always perceived adequacy of the information, is false thinking. The local communists have disappointed me. If we consider it with communist rhetoric, there still has been a revolution, like in February, 1917. And we, instead of supporting (in Ukraine they could throw the oligarchic elite, what we will never beg to do), exacerbate the situation. Maybe Communists envied, maybe they are so upset because of the statue of Lenin, but they have disappointed me, I didn’t think that they all together will support the aggression and invasion to another country. It seems to be that everything should be built on the principles of internationalism, but they became the first nationalists.
What civil principles do you rely on while making decisions?
— I think as a historian, and wonder where it all will lead. According to the experience of world history, any aggression leads to falling of the international prestige. I was pleased with some teachers of Teacher’s University, they have supported me and said that they educated a historian correctly. But it is not only historical thinking, because above all I was wounded by the fact that my own country says: why is America able to do it, but we are not? This is beyond understanding.
You stated that your comment as a member of the Youth Parliament will probably be the last. Did the repressions already start?
— The fact is that I don’t intend to leave until a formal revocation. But most likely, it's going to happen because there was a real absurd on the last plenary meeting. Our chairman read out a message to the president of the Youth Parliament of Kirov that we support Vladimir Putin in matters of Crimea, and then he said: "Clap those who approves". And, you know, the zombies sit and clap. I had to tell that if it is accepted this way and sent somewhere above, I'll just go out of the Youth Parliament. So, it remained a personal opinion of the chairman. By the way, they don’t know about my action "Hang noodles on your ears", it played into my hands of course, but what will happen next — I don’t know. Members of the Youth Parliament are in a parallel reality and basically don’t know what is happening among the youth.
How did an active manifestation of your civic position start?
— With the Faculty of History, I guess. Before that I had an attitude on the verge of anarchism. And a different understanding came on the faculty when I met the Communists. In fact, I've always had an opinion that we must do and change something in our society. On the course we had ardent "putinists", "anarchists", "Cossacks", "liberals". And absolutely everyone had a position. Now I get a second degree, technical, people don’t need to think here — they are only interested in machines and strength of materials. When they see a flag of Ukraine on my backpack, they come up and say: "Take it off, don’t demean yourself" and ask: "Are you for Banderists?" I have to explain that now it’s better to be Bandera than a communist.
What are you afraid of?
— For example, I am afraid to talk with children on the major social issues, because they can be led. There are no people among my friends who would completely deny everything, they listen to me and hear not just pretentious arguments such as "save the Russians in Crimea". They hear historical and universal facts, thus absorb information adequately. The worst thing they can make is to deforce of a right to teach. This is my bread and my calling, if they won’t allow me to teach, I'll go to war. They can just set me up: for example, to find a student who would say that I led propaganda. It’s not true, but it’s a so-called live-lure. The more splash is made, the less they will be able to influence the situation, because many people are afraid of public opinion. At the first I felt myself completely isolated in Kirov. It was difficult, because everyone thought and was based upon false notions. I was supported mainly by friends-activists from St. Petersburg and Moscow. After the actions I send them the results, publications, so they laugh. They say that they wouldn’t be allowed to do such things as the state employees are taken care of and they would be immediately taken into the MIA cars. I answer them: "We have a lot of freedom or I act very quickly."
Natalia Vol’naya, «7x7»