Hardly anyone “reads” Vladimir Putin and the Russians as knowledgeably as the Russian writer Viktor Erofeev, who fled to Germany. Germany’s Chancellor should meet with him. And be prepared for some uncomfortable truths.

A street thug used to winning won’t be mollified. Late in the evening, when you’re walking around the block, he suddenly appears across from you and asks for your watch with cold eyes and a calm voice.

If you give it to him, he will ask for your wallet. If you refuse him, he will beat you up. Putin’s war begs the question of how to deal with a street thug.

Olaf Scholz should ask Viktor Erofejew for one or two meetings to have him explain the Russians and Putin to him. Because Erofeyev is brilliant, he is as an author and as a distanced contemporary witness. Distanced here means “at a distance” in two senses.

Now save articles for later in “Pocket”.

In the spring, Erofeev fled Russia in his BMW X 5 with his wife Katja and their two children Maya and Marianna. It was easy for the small family to leave Russia, but it was all the more difficult to get past the Finnish border guards and into Europe.

Read the bitterly humorous text that Erofejew wrote about it in the “FAZ”. Olaf Scholz lives in a world where conflicts are moderated into compromises. The method for this is permanent negotiation.

But can this method, which may be sufficient when dealing with Robert Habeck and Christian Lindner and Friedrich Merz, be transferred to Vladimir Putin? For someone who doesn’t want to negotiate at all, but always just: win?

Whose only idea of ​​​​existence consists precisely in the lout logic, and has always only existed, even as a youth, then when acquiring the black belt, with the KGB, finally as a despot – initially against his will, because Putin would rather be the head of Gazprom has become the head of the Russians. who willingly follow him. Why actually?

The Russian people have a different idea of ​​happiness than the European people, and that’s when the misunderstanding about Putin begins. Compared to Russians, Europeans live around a quiet middle – average.

Russians, on the other hand, love the excessive, they have found their happiness by flouting every norm. Erofeyev: “If you drink vodka, then until you lose consciousness. If you celebrate, then until the doctor comes. If you fight, then until someone drops dead.

The main thing is to put yourself in a state of consciousness in which life appears as foolish hustle and bustle and at the same time as a victory over all other forms of existence. An inferiority complex and a complex of superiority over all other races produce a casus belli, the prelude to a bestial war without rules.”

Is there a better way to describe Putin? And the fact that the Russians wear it? Tens of thousands have fled before him, including many liberals. Running away is a way to escape from a street thug.

In this regard, we are being lectured about obvious differences in mentality: In any case, the uprising against the mullahs in Iran is far larger and louder and more powerful than the resistance against Putin in Russia, if there is one.

Once again, as so often in its history, Erofeyev regretfully analyses, Russia has “freed itself” of universally accepted humanistic values ​​and replaced them with “tepid notions of the superiority of our backyard over the whole world”.

The backyard is Putin’s home. His yob ideology and that of “his” Russians: “We’re better than everyone else.” And why? “Therefore!”

It is the “wisdom” of the underprivileged, criminal suburbanites, in Russian: “Gopnik”. The novel that Erofeyev has finished writing about Vladimir Putin and that will be published around the turn of the year is therefore also called “The Great Gopnik.”

The Russia that many Germans admire, adore and romanticize, the land of Chekhov and Dostoyevsky and Pasternak, only the West liked that. But not in their own country, especially not in the Russian provinces. That’s where Putin gets his footing from.

Erofeyev is old (75 years) and educated and of privileged origin. His father was Stalin’s personal interpreter, then counselor, so Erofeyev came to Paris for years. Those who grow up at a distance from their own compatriots might understand them better.

Surf tip: You can find all the news about the corona pandemic in the FOCUS Online news ticker

The Russian “values”, analyzes the successful writer, are linked to social status – nobles, peasants, officers, working class – fragmented worlds. “Therefore we are not a nation, but a supremely archaic people.” Giving most room to its survival and thus upholding what helps most:

Strength, cunning, lack of empathy, suspicion, distrust, cynicism. Shooting rockets at hospitals is just as contrary to our values ​​as it is to Putin’s values. Russians will hardly be surprised by this – they have known such nefarious acts from Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and finally Ukraine since 2014.

stations of Putin’s victories; a single unscrupulous trail of blood. And the dictator always got away with it, even with his own people. Erofeyev says in one of his texts that Ukraine bestows hell on Russia “with an honest heart”.

Surf tip: You can find all the news about the corona pandemic in the FOCUS Online news ticker

War is Putin’s element, corresponding to his existence since the backyard days in Leningrad, today’s Petersburg. For German ears and brains conditioned to pacifism, this is a disturbing message.

So will Putin use nuclear weapons? Yes, of course, says Erofeyev, if he has to fear humiliation, this is his last chance. Victory or defeat – we Germans know that from Hitler. When the American atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima on August 6, Germany had already capitulated.

Now that nuclear weapons are in the world, can there be any hope for the West? Yes, says Erofeyev, and it has a name: “The only person Putin listens to is Comrade Xi,” the writer said yesterday at Anne Will.

For people who are used to democracy and dream of a better world, this may be a difficult idea: The only hope against the second strongest dictator in the world would then be the strongest dictator in the world. backyard racket logic.