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The Return of Sultans & Tsars?

Saturday Night Unlimited -

Dutch-Estonian writer Sana Valiulina, the Turkish writer and journalist Ece Temelkuran and and famous Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin discuss the backgrounds of the current turbulent period in Turkey and Russia. How far back in history must we go to understand contemporary Turkey and Russia? Which collective trauma's, frustrations and sentiments are at the roots of recent developments? Hosted by Dutch essayist and P.C.Hooft Award 2017 winner Bas Heijne. English spoken.

Since the failed coup of Summer 2016, Turkey goes through a grim period. Not only the military but also dissidents are persecuted. Many journalists are refrained from working, many scientists and intellectuals are not allowed to travel abroad. But the trend of intimidating the intelligentsia dates back before the coup. In 2015, writer and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Orhan Pamuk already warned in The Guardian that fear gets the upperhand in Turkey: "I notice that everybody is afraid...the freedom of speech has sunk deeply."

Things are not much better in Russia. Mikhail Shishkin wrote about how Russian media under the Putin regime have changed into weapons of mass destruction aimed at convincing the population that Russia is again at war with the West. Within this rethoric of war, each form of criticism is a sign of treason. This legitimizes oppression of dissidents.

Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish journalist and political commentator, and author of Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy.

Dutch-Estonian Sana Valiulina tells in her Children of Brezjnev (2014) what the Soviet system has demolished regarding civilisation and how moral decline gained momentum during the post-soviet era.