What Is the Truth, Brother?

Anna Kultin
8 min readApr 26, 2022


“Three big rooms, two dead women and three dead girls. Their skirts are pulled up, empty wine bottles sticking out from between their legs. On each of the beds, and there are three, lie dead women with their legs spread and bottles inserted.”

The writer and once-liaison officer Leonid Rabichev, who fought in World War II, describes scenes of murder and rape committed by Russian soldiers in his memoirs. Through the eyes of his 20-year-old self, with brutal honesty, he describes a belief in “victory at any cost,” fighting in the name of Stalin, for the Motherland — but even this patriotic fervor did not blind him to the horrors he saw and the frankly sadistic side of the war.

“Well, suppose everyone was raped and shot,” he writes, “Cushions drenched in blood. But where does this sadistic urge to stick bottles come from? Our infantry, our tankers, country and city kids — all have families, mothers, sisters at home. I understand killing the enemy in combat. If you don’t kill, they will kill you. After the first kill and ensuing shock, one gets chills, the other vomits. But there’s some kind of horrible sadistic game here, some kind of competition: who’s going to stick the most bottles in, and it’s in every house. No, not us, not the army liaison officers. It was infantrymen, tank men, mortar men. They were the first to enter the houses.”

Rabichev vividly describes how German women were routinely raped. Several women lying on the side of the road — skinny female bodies — helpless, with their clothes torn to shreds, and a group of soldiers standing over their bloodied bodies.

The famous Russian philosopher and thinker Gregory Pomerantz, who also fought in the 1945 war as a young man, described how the soldiers said to one another, “How many times today have you avenged your homeland?” The answer followed; translated into plain English, that meant how many times they had raped German women.

Another war where women are raped, children killed, and this time Ukrainian cities destroyed — but now all the screaming nakedness displayed as never before, presented in all its gory detail in the global press and on social platforms to an astonished, shocked public.

My Ukrainian friend from Bucha, the city whose brutal film footage capturing the aftermath of civilian massacres was viewed throughout the world — although denied by Russian leadership — said that first come the so-called elite troops and fighters from Russia, they peacefully exchange fuel for food. But then come the “clean-up” troops, and this is where the atrocities take place — it is a completely different story. He recounted how he found out from his neighbors about the rape of teenage girls who then ran away. “They had their teeth knocked out so they wouldn’t bite the soldiers when they raped them.”

Russian television is adamant about the “fakes” and machinations of the insidious West, which is of course behind all these atrocities. “Fake” is a stigmatizing term, a pejorative that serves to camouflage lies for one of the sides in the confrontation.

“Where is the truth, brother?” One would like to ask, in the words of a popular character from the Russian movie “Brother”, a quote that is repurposed in the propaganda media.

Anyone who reads the Apocalypse and is looking for signs of the end of the world — put the book with its frayed pages aside. Today’s nauseating reality whispers the truth about the end into your ears. It may not be the end of time — but certainly the end of humanity, suffocating in a devious web of lies spun by politicians and entrapping the misled, lost masses. The world order as we knew it is shaken, along with all its fundamental truths: do not kill, love your neighbor as yourself, world peace, the price of human life…

The starting point got lost. “What is the truth, brother?”

“Where are the Nazis, brother?”

The scary truth is that in yet another cycle of history, entire generations have quickly forgotten what war really is, and believe that murder under various pretexts is not only allowed, but just.

The Russian population is immersed in the hypnotic flicker of an alternate reality, projected from the imagination of its ruler to the exhausted, frightened minds of its citizens. As in a virtual game, the players can find enemies, suitable patriotic ideas, and even rewards — to each his own.

Andrei Babitsky, a well-known Russian journalist who covered the Chechen war from 1994 to 2000, uncovered an unofficial truth that was drastically different from the “fight against terrorists” proclaimed by the government. He was on the front lines, under fire, filming everything on a small digital camera. The footage is shocking — peaceful towns destroyed and hundreds of civilians dead. People living in basements, innocent children with legs blown off, their lives crippled forever.

After the bombings of apartment buildings in Russia some time earlier, Putin had promised a war on terrorists and they were indeed found: in Chechnya.

Following the First Chechen War of 1994–1996, Chechnya gained independence as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, but de jure it remained a part of Russia. Russian federal control was restored after 2009.

Babitsky later found himself at the head of an information war movement and was accused of cooperating with bandits. At a press conference, a criticism from Putin was read to him: “Babitsky and others like him tried to turn the situation the other way, he worked directly for his opponents. He was not a neutral source of information.”

“What did you respond to Putin in this absentee polemic?” the journalist was asked. To which, in his beautiful baritone, Babitsky calmly said: “In my view, a journalist, covering the events of this or that war, uses starting points. Well, take the Bible. Please, let that be a starting point for you.”

These words speak to the unambiguity of truth. The lie begins whenever there is a moral sleight-of-hand substitution of concepts — evil is replaced by good and is considered the starting point. For politicians, the whole world can be turned upside down, unleashing murderers, liars, thieves and looters.

The same pretext, the same slogans, and the same fight against (Nazi) terrorists that is currently being played out in Ukraine.

If you turn back to documents of the Hitler era, when the Führer began his victorious march through Europe to the applause of his fellow citizens — he invaded Poland first. To create a pretext for a German attack on Poland, SS units staged a “Polish attack” on a German radio station in Gleiwitz. The Gestapo chief, Reinhard Heydrich, developed a plan which in the language of covert services is called a “false flag”; namely, subversive army elements of the aggressor country (Germany) stage an attack on its own territory, and in response the “besieged” state, as an act of revenge, initiates a military invasion.

Afterwards, in an SS meeting, it was noted that observers would immediately see that events did not hang well together. “When the tanks come, no one else will remember this,” Heydrich roared back. The purpose of the operation was to provide fuel for the anger of the German newspapers: it was used to explain to the people of the Reich the rationale for the war, while also showing England and France that the Germans did not attack first.

The aim of such operations is to provide a seemingly simple explanation for events, and further, to load the narrative with filtered, evaluative, and “patently obvious” information, so as to preclude the need to explore the authenticity of what is happening. The frame of reference shifts everything — and everything is justified for the sake of the goal. The goal itself is beyond definitions of good and evil because it is “justified”.

The fact is that the apparatus of the Russian president does not bother with concepts of falsehood, good or bad, good or evil. There is but one idea in this alternate reality — simple in its essence, but all the more complicated because it is inhuman and mercilessly false, which no one except the most sophisticated can see at first glance. It has a flavor similar to the crime committed by Radion Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s masterpiece “Crime and Punishment”. “A trembling creature — or have I the right?” or less poetically, “To kill some in order to free others.”

Similarly, eighty years ago the Bolsheviks believed that they could destroy inequality, as well as all social evils personified by the wealthy, and thus ensure a brighter future for all. This would seem like a Good Idea to those who have no starting point.

Why not kill a hundred people for the greater good? Dozens, hundreds of innocent people have been murdered and shot simply because they belonged to a different class.

And so then, in the “blooming” Soviet camp called the USSR, it was possible to kill, shoot and imprison tens and hundreds of thousands of its citizens who disagree with this postulate. It is possible to kill, in the name of an idea that is touted as good.

Lying is considered a mechanical norm, something that becomes a default option if you are not in an advantageous position. Philosopher Alexander Dugin, who has been actively lurking behind the backs of Kremlin ideologues, in an interview with the BBC mentioned: “we have our own special Russian truth.” The ideological “mastermind” behind the military bacchanalia that has begun to overrun Europe is confident: “You have your own truth,” he says, “We have our own truth.” “But, if your truth is NOT true?” — the journalist tries to parry. “If truth is relative, that doesn’t mean truth doesn’t exist. It means that the one truth for all does not exist,” Dugin states.

Dostoevsky was so clear about this back in the day, again in Crime and Punishment. His hero carefully premeditated and then killed an elderly lady with an axe, which he considered a non-event, a de-lousing — easily justified, and not worth being troubled by conventional ideas of good and evil. Raskolnikov singled out a small group of people who stand above these ethical assessments of acts and deeds; people for whom, because of their genius, their high utility to humanity, nothing can serve as an obstacle.

This Nietzschean exaltation of the few over the many help the schismatic cross a moral line and move into a world where everything is permitted to the elect.

And so it becomes clear why, when any evidence is presented regarding the shooting of civilians in Ukraine, the murders or the lies, the answer is always — THIS IS FAKE.

By and large, it doesn’t matter what arguments or evidence exist. By transforming the starting point, Kremlin strategists earned the right to commit crimes.

This convenient predilection for lying was chosen not on the day of the attack on Ukraine, nor the day of the bombing of peaceful settlements in Chechnya, nor the day of false accusations against blogger and opposition activist Alexei Navalny, nor the day of the murder of Boris Nemtsov. It has been an organic, increasingly used tool underlying all Russian politics for the past several decades.

The Raskolnikov experiment — his rationalized permission to murder, constructed in his inflamed imagination — led him to a complete breakdown, destroying all ties with the outside world, including his loved ones. Dostoevsky shows us that breaking moral laws has consequences, and every lie will be exposed.



Anna Kultin

Communications professional. Former TV anchor, journalist, producer and writer. A perfectionist with a flair for uncovering and reporting on newsworthy topics.