About the Inhabited Island

We started publishing “Inhabited Island” in May 2022 to break the silence of the Russian community in New Zealand about the events that “blew up” the world on February 24 and continue to be the focus of close attention of all humanity. We think that we will not be mistaken if we say that the war in Ukraine is now perceived as the greatest tragedy of the second half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.

In our newspaper, we publish brief reviews of the events taking place in Ukraine and Russia with comments reflecting our attitude to this war as a crime committed by the Putin regime on Ukrainian soil. We publish interviews with eyewitnesses of the tragic events and information on how the Russian community in New Zealand is reacting to the war in Ukraine and the situation in Russia. We are closely following all anti-war and humanitarian actions in favour of Ukraine organized in New Zealand.

Now we are expanding the focus of our attention, shifting it from the Russian community in New Zealand to the Russian and Ukrainian diasporas both in New Zealand and in other countries.

Why “Inhabited Island”?

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, 1965, Photo: TASS

The novel “The Inhabited Island” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky describes an extraterrestrial civilization lost somewhere on the outskirts of the universe. The Inhabited Island is a model of human society experiencing the consequences of the collapse of a huge totalitarian state. Much of this extrapolation model is inspired by the history of our homeland – the Soviet Union in the middle of the 20th century. The novel is a successful attempt by wonderful writers – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – to analyze real historical events in the real world using the means of science -fiction. This explains the wide fame and popularity of this work. If you’ve not read the novel for a long time, re-read it. You will find many parallels and associations, and not only with the Soviet Union. For example, the novel describes the details (!) of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army in the 21st century:

“Soldiers.. I’m not mistaken, I’m addressing you as soldiers, even though all of us, including me, are still shit, the scum of society… Scoundrels and bastards! Be thankful that you are allowed to go into battle today. In a few hours, almost all of you will be dead, and that will be fine. But those of you bastards who survive will have a good life. Soldiers’ rations, vodka and all that… Now we’re going to go to the positions, and you’re going to get into the cars. It’s a trivial matter to walk a hundred and fifty kilometers on tracks… You know how tankers are like a bullet out of shit, but everything you get to is yours. Eat. I’m telling you this, your comrade-in-arms Anipsu. There is no turning back, but there is a way forward. Whoever backs away, I’ll burn them on the spot. This is especially true for drivers… No questions asked.” (The Strugatskys, “The Inhabited Island”).

It is unfortunate that from the very first moment of the invasion it became clear that the Russian community in New Zealand is not part of the New Zealand community, but a kind of “Island in the Islands”, a mini-model of modern Russian society. This society consists in principle of sympathetic people… Remember, in the Strugatskys’ novel, the overwhelming majority of the population of the Island Empire sincerely and enthusiastically supports the Unknown Fathers and the Guard, and Guy and Rada Gaal are wonderful people who evoke sympathy. Let’s go back to the real world and see how the community of sympathetic people in New Zealand responded to the criminal aggression of their country with virtually complete silence, and in some places with open support for the crime. Is it really possible? As it turns out, yes. In the current situation, silence can only mean support for the war, no matter how hard these sympathetic “silent” people try to position themselves as peace-lovers, standing aside from politics. What is happening now in Ukraine is not what is meant by the word “politics”.

How is this possible? In the Strugatskys’ novel, the towers of the PBZ (anti-ballistic defense) are a sophisticated propaganda system, they emit mysterious rays that hypnotize people, making them blindly believe government propaganda. The association is more than obvious. After all, not only in Russia, but also here, in New Zealand, there are such mini-towers.

The Strugatskys’ novel is also a view of the world through the eyes of people who want to understand whether it is possible to change or save this world, guided in their actions by the call of conscience. The theme of conscience and the real result of those actions that are performed according to conscience is constantly heard in the novel (see the epigraphs to the first and second issues of the “Inahbited Isand”). This topic could not be more relevant now and here. That’s why we decided to call our newspaper “The Inhabited Island”.