Verden har mistet to store, unike journalister – Oriana Fallaci og Ryszard Kapucinski.
Kapucinski har en høy stjerne i Norge. Fallaci er foreløpig for sterk kost. Kollega Wiktor Osiatynski skriver om Kapucinski:

He favoured simple descriptions – of a single event, a detail, a mood. He dissolved the boundary between reporting and literature, not by inserting fiction into his writing but by pouring in feeling. He elicited empathy and identification in his readers rather than mere understanding. He gathered his material by listening, always attentively. When he listened, you couldn’t help but feel worthy of his attention. The trust and friendship he elicited can be seen in his photographs. His sensitivity shines through in his poems. For Kapu?ci?ski was not just a reporter.

His last book, The Other, is a collection of six lectures. Its title alludes to Kapu?ci?ski’s own mission as interpreter of cultures, to use his own phrase. An interpreter listens and transfers what he hears (or observes, or senses) into words that are understandable to others. An interpreter does not judge or impose anything, accepting reality and the people for whom he translates. An interpreter helps people understand each other.

The Other is, like all his works, a stand against fundamentalisms, nationalisms and all the other «isms» that divide people and push them to fight each other. Kapu?ci?ski took a stand for pluralism and tolerance, freedom and dignity. These were his high values, perhaps more important to him that democracy itself. After all, he had often witnessed angry mobs and intolerant democracies, like Iran’s. And in the last months of his life he expressed concerns about the fate of democracy in post-communist countries.

For Poles, Kapu?ci?ski was an example of moderation and humility. As a nation, we tend to overestimate our historical importance and uniqueness. Kapu?ci?ski taught us that others are no less unique. He warned that if we succumb to our obsession with our own problems we risk overlooking what is really important in the world. From his wider perspective these things included global warming, ecological destruction, globalisation. He observed that along with the process of global unification an opposite process of fragmentation is taking place. In 1960, if a reporter knew English, he or she could speak to every important person in the world on topics of mutual importance.

Kapucinski har noen interessante synspunkter på manglende rettsoppgjør i Russland:

Kapuscinski: There is a fundamental difference between the Polish experience of the state and the Russian experience. In the Polish experience, the state was always a foreign power. So, to hate the state, to be disobedient to the state, was a patriotic act. In the Russian experience, although the Russian state is oppressive, it is their state, it is part of their fabric, and so the relation between Russian citizens and their state is much more complicated. There are several reasons why Russians view the oppressive state positively. First of all, in Russian culture, in the Russian Orthodox religion, there is an understanding of authority as something sent by God. This makes the state part of the sacred… So if the state is oppressive, then it is oppressive, but you can’t revolt against it. The cult of authority is very strong in Russian society.

Wolfe: But what is the difference between Soviet suffering and something like the battle of the Marne, the insanity of World War I and trench warfare?

Kapuscinski: It’s different. In the First World War, there was the sudden passion of nationalism, and the killing took place because of these emotions. But the Soviet case is different, because there you had systematic murder, like in the Holocaust. Ten or 12 million Ukrainian peasants were purposely killed by Stalin, by starvation, in the Ukrainian hunger of 1932-3…It was a very systematic plan… In modern Russia, you have no official, formal assessment of this past. Nobody in any Russian document has said that the policy of the Soviet government was criminal, that it was terrible. No one has ever said this.

Woodford: But what about Khrushchev in 1956?

Kapuscinski: I’m speaking about the present. Official Russian state doctrine and foreign policy doesn’t mention the Bolshevik policy of expansion. It doesn’t condemn it. If you ask liberal Russians – academics, politicians – if Russia is dangerous to us, to Europe, to the world, they say: «No, it’s not dangerous, we’re too weak, we have an economic crisis, difficulties with foreign trade, our army is in a state of anarchy…» That is the answer. They are not saying: «We will never, ever repeat our crimes of expansionism, of constant war.» No, they say: «We are not dangerous to you, because right now we are weak.»

Cohen: When Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia, he was asked whether the state would take responsibility for the deaths, the oppression, the confiscations of the previous governments of Czechoslovakia, and he said «yes.» The same questions were asked in South Africa of the Mandela government. And I think Poland is now struggling with how much responsibility the government will have to take for the past. But the Russian official response has been that Stalin can be blamed for everything.

Kapuscinski:This is a very crucial point: there is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past.

Ryszard Kapucinski: the interpreter

An Interview with Ryszard Kapuscinski: Writing About Suffering