National Geographic : 2016 Dec
the putin generation 95 One of Filipp’s friends and partners in the gal- lery bounds up and shakes my hand. “We just found out that they didn’t bury anyone under this space,” he gushes. After Filipp rented the rooms, he and his friends realized that the build- ing next door houses the FSB. In the 1930s it was called the NKVD, and it killed as many as 1.2 mil- lion people. Often the NKVD’s victims were shot and buried on-site. But Filipp’s gallery, Space of Modern Art, lucked out. No bones in the base- ment here. Just hipsters in the mild Siberian summer night. I had met Filipp earlier that day at a chic Novosibirsk café, surrounded by impossibly fash- ionable young women with very obvious lip jobs. Novosibirsk is Russia’s third largest city, a center of industry and scientific innovation. There’s a lot of money here. Filipp, though, didn’t see much of it. He grew up without a father. Like many young Russians, he was raised by his mother and grandmother. His great-grandfather fought in World War II and was later purged by Stalin. His grandmother became a renowned chemist, and his mother also worked in science. But the wom- en’s passion was politics. “All the main hashtags at home are politics,” Filipp says. Filipp was 16 when the pro-democracy pro- tests broke out in Moscow and spread to cities like Novosibirsk. Tens of thousands poured into the streets to demand free and fair elections, yet the protests felt more like block parties than demonstrations. Filipp too was fed up with Putin. “Messages were being sent to him, messages of discontent, and yet there was no dialogue with those people,” Filipp says. He didn’t recognize the Russia that Kremlin-controlled television showed. “ That was a different country,” he says. “I didn’t know a single person like that.” “I went to the protests. I tried to be politically active,” Filipp tells me. “It was boiling inside me. I wasn’t thinking about anything else. The whole country is rising in protest, and I’m part of it.” But he was soon disappointed. “I looked around, and the people at the rallies weren’t my people. I wasn’t totally comfortable,” he says. “And it didn’t lead to anything.” Seminary students at Moscow Theological Academy in Sergiyev Posad study the New Testament, liturgical music, icon painting, and other subjects. Brutally repressed by the communists, the Russian Orthodox Church has seen a resurgence under Putin, who sees it as an ally in his bid to restore the nation to greatness.