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I wrote a few months ago, under the title “Everything Old Is New Again, Ukraine War Edition,” about prominent Russian singer Boris Grebenshchikov singing, on occasion of the Ukraine war, a 105-year-old antiwar song by Alexander Vertinsky. The closing stanza was,

And no-one thought simply to kneel

And to tell these boys, that in this talentless nation

Even bright feats of valor are only steps

Into the endless abysses, to the inaccessible Spring.

A couple of days ago, I came across another song by Grebenschikov, called “Истребитель”; this means “fighter plane,” but I think it might also carry a more sinister shading, since the literal translation is something like “exterminator.”

You can see the Russian text here; it’s deliberately poetically somewhat opaque, I think, but its general tone seems to be about brutality and war and the singer’s and listener’s complicity with them. As one commentator noted, it’s about the Russian tendency to self-extermination.

In any event, the song was written in 1996, and now Grebenshchikov is singing it again on the occasion of the latest atrocity. And, to deliver on the comment I promised in the title, it’s from commenter TheMrRadiator:

Удобно, когда в твоей стране более ста лет творится одно и тоже… Один раз песню написал и она всегда актуальна…

How convenient, when in your country for more than 100 years the same thing happens over and over. Write a song once, and it’s always apt.

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