Letter from Moscow Europe's Post- and Pre-War Jitters, Part II

Last month former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told Time magazine: "It looks as if the world is preparing for war.'' Mergen Mongush, a Russian writer, isn't sure about that, but notes times are tense on the streets of Moscow.
Moscow police appear after a fist fight on the streets of Moscow between ethnic Russians.

Sir, your article (''Ghosts in the Machine,'' February 10) made me remember an Azeri (Turkish-speaking ethnic group in Azerbaijan) girl I was studying with at St. Petersburg University whose father had been saved during WWII due to the famous or infamous German pedantry.

He was taken prisoner and singled out with his Jewish and gypsy comrades as he looked like them to be executed on the spot. But he was reprieved at the last moment and later other POWs explained why: Before his imminent death he was praying like a Muslim by touching the earth with his palms and thus proved beyond any doubt that he was neither a Jew nor a Gypsy.

So there are really no atheists in foxholes.

Unlike Japan that accepted just 28 refugees in 2016, Germany has been open to racially and religiously different ethnic groups for centuries.

And their being, and staying, different culminated in the Holocaust in the past and may well lead to the complete collapse of the European Union now.

Humanity is still very far from a racially neutral ''neither Jew nor Greek'' state mentioned in The New Testament of the Bible (Galatians 3:28) while our experiment of creating an atheist country in Russia ended in an immense fiasco and a number of local wars, with the latest being in Ukraine.

Even in Moscow someone like me, a Russian citizen of Asian descent, can’t leave his house without his passport while the local police prefer just to admonish half-naked ethnic Russians even if they are seen in a drunken scuffle on a street in broad daylight. (I took the photo above from my window.)

Perhaps we should all treat this current crisis, no matter where, like a bodily ailment that is neither terminal nor yet fully curable. Something like a tertian, double tertian, or quartan malaria.

With fewer and fewer diagnoses staying a death sentence in medicine we may hope for something similar in our social life.


Mergen Mongush is a Russian linguist and business writer living in Moscow. To reach him: [email protected]