[FOUNTAIN]A very ill wind blows

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[FOUNTAIN]A very ill wind blows

"Nord-Ost" is the name of a hit musical that has run for the last two years in Moscow at the theater taken over recently by Chechen separatists. The musical Nord-Ost has a lot of symbolism. Nord-Ost, the name meaning "northeast" in German, is adapted from the novel "The Two Captains," by Benjamin Kabellin, which he wrote during the Stalin regime.

"The Two Captains" addresses the issues of love, friendship, betrayal and the revelation of truth between members of a team exploring the Arctic Circle over a 20-year period. It also describes such virtues as patriotism, dedication to the powerful Soviet Union, honor and integrity of a family.

Russia's cultural community responded to President Vladimir V. Putin, who wants to revive the glory of Russia, by dramatizing Mr. Kabellin's novel with a hint of the American musical, and Nord-Ost won explosive support and a wave of accolades from audiences and critics alike.

Because of the trend of excessive individualism and commercialism, which overflowed in Moscow after the introduction of a Western life style, the commercial success of the musical was uncertain. Therefore, they decided to stage the show in a cultural center located in a performance complex created by renovating a ball bearing factory.

When the performance opened in October last year, however, it created a stir since it coincided with the rise of patriotism among Russians. Families, in particular, loved the show and some of them burst into tears during curtain calls. Nord-Ost has run for more than 18 months.

Apparently, the Chechen guerrillas wished to attack the heart of Russian nationalism, by which they thought they could achieve a "holy war" against their enemies. Chechen separatists forced their way into the theater and fired shots as the hero of the play was decorated.

Nord-Ost presents Russians with a nostalgic and romantic Czarist Russia. The musical also reminds Moscovites of their once- powerful nation, which stood up to the United States.

But radical and extreme chauvinism only brought another tragedy named Chechnya. The people of this Russian province wanted to prove that they love their homeland, and the desperate but ineffective measure they took was to confront Russians in a very brutal and violent way, which is an ineffective tactic any time and any place.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Kim Seok-whan

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