by Katerina for the Saker Blog
I left Russia at the tender age of 24, left not because I wanted to leave my country, just simply happened to marry a foreigner who was there at the time and for several years now been living and working in three very different countries, including Scotland and England. Now I am living in yet another English-speaking country that is equally unique and different. I like to think that my experience of these four different cultures, outlooks, attitudes, not to mention systems, had most definitely expanded my horizons. I also want to think that such experience had allowed me to make certain assessments and analysis which hopefully could be translated into informed opinions.
I have been coming to this site for over two years now since it is rather “pro Russian” and therefore my interest was obvious. I have been reading Saker’s and his contributors posts with great interest, although reading some comments was at times bewildering. There are of course some very intelligent analytical comments and commentators on Saker’s blog, after all that is one of the reasons why we want to come here – for the knowledge we might not yet have, for the insight, for an intelligent analyses by someone who took the trouble and for someone’s else point of view that perhaps can make us think – that’s how I see this blog, and I am sure so does Saker. What compelled me to write this piece, a belief that most people coming to this blog are also looking for that same thing, otherwise why bother. On the other hand some of their expressed comments are not opinions but attitudes. Let me explain the difference. Opinion is something that is based on knowledge and at least some research, an attitude is something that expresses a person’s individual take on some particular issue, which has been shaped by picking up some information possibly from MSM, or from social media or wherever without really ANALYZING it but accepting it because it fits with that person’s mentality. See the difference?
I also see in some comments an understandable ignorance of things Russian and I cannot blame them for that, at least they are interested enough to be on this site, which is commendable. Except some obvious troll like creatures, who try to have some facade but most people here I think are a fairly intelligent lot and can see thru that.
In this my small contribution I would like to try and help with a bit more understanding of Russian side of things, which I suppose is rather difficult for people in the West to really understand, as we have lots of pervasive Western media that does not give one a true picture of Russia. Also, I would endeavor to provide some analysis or at least some explanation on the seemingly ingrained animosity of the West towards Russia and it’s possible origins.
So, let’s start.
“Things Russian”. Here I can try to give you some information that you will not get in your Western MSM, for sure. Having Russian as your first language is a great advantage when you can watch, read and listen to what is happening in Russia at present, what is the general mood that comes across, what worries and concerns them, what they think. One can get a pretty clear picture of all of that through their news channels, daily talk shows, expert’s opinions, people’s comments, etc on practically a daily basis. My knowledge on the subject, I can assure you, is up to date.
First, here are some myths that I want to blow apart for some people – Russia and Russians are NOT that greatly enamored with the West that they are so desperately wanting to be “accepted” and “approved” by this West. FAR FROM IT!
Lots of them, having seen the West’s insane, reckless and criminal behavior such as what it has done to Ukraine, hysterics regarding Crimea going back to Mother Russia, MH17 hideous crime, made-up Scripal garbage, expulsion of Russian Diplomats, criminal seizing of Russian diplomatic property, endless sanctions and relentless demonization of Russia and it’s President – feel it’s enough to start a war! No, whatever warm feelings they might have had in the past towards the West after break- up of USSR and hopes of being friendly at last – all these feelings have been killed and long gone. Now, just as it was back in history, they want to keep the distance. Some of the Western poison seeps thru occasionally but that does not get much traction. The so called “opposition” in Russia mostly survives on Soros’s grants and in Russia they even have a name for them -“sorosyata”, which roughly translates as a Soros’s little piglets. These who join them in their various protests are usually mindless youth looking for a bit of excitement. Too much of that excitement can land them with a heavy fine or expulsion from whatever learning establishment they attend. That cools a lot of hot heads. So, whatever one reads in western media regarding strong Russian “opposition” to Putin’s “dictatorship”, bear in mind he has as much fear of this opposition as an elephant of a flea on it’s back. Besides, if he was such a dictator this lot would not be allowed even to exist as an “opposition”, but they even have their own media channels – I reckon the government sees that as the best way to keep an eye on them.
No, there are no censorship, dictatorship or any other “ship” in Russia that does not allow people, however deluded, to express themselves, but in a civilized fashion. Cities are spotlessly clean, excellent infrastructure, every restaurant you could wish for, great bars and nightclubs, same make of cars on the roads as in any European city, friendly people and no homeless on the streets. Those football fans that arrived in Russia from all over the world for the World Cup couple of years ago, had to “pick their jaws off the pavement”. They could not believe what they were seeing as it was so totally different to what they were expecting from the images shaped for them by western media.
This is modern Russia.
In the last 25 years lots of Russians have traveled around Europe, UK, States, etc – something they could not do so easily before – they had a look, and what most of them discovered is that the grass definitely wasn’t greener on the other side. They were interested to have a look and quite content to get back home.
There were some who fled Russia during the terrible 90s when what was going on in Russia at the time was hell on wheels, as it was being robbed and pillaged by the West, whose wet dream at last came true, unfortunately for them only for a brief moment. Quite a number of Russians who left Russia at the time are now returning back home. The West now has got it’s own version of hell on wheels, so let’s call it KARMA.
What Russians also find distasteful are bad manners on the part of the West, showing up in rather unpleasant and uncalled for displays of arrogant lecturing and attempts to show some inexplicable “superiority” with regard to Russia. I have experienced this myself when in England, but NEVER in Scotland, I will hasten to add. Scotland and Scots for me were always “home from home”.
I was buying a train ticket at the Waterloo station in London and the ticket seller, an Englishman in his 40s, seeing my name, muttered under his breath “bloody Russian”. I was looking at him and wondering what made him say that. Here was someone who probably hardly finished secondary school, selling a ticket to someone who is a highly qualified professional, with two degrees, one of which is Masters, attained from one of the best Scottish Universities (writing a dissertation in second language is not easy, believe me!) and yet, he felt somehow “superior” to this Russian and that compelled him to mutter these words. And I suddenly realized that it was CONDITIONED in him, he didn’t even pause to think, it came out because he couldn’t help it. Attitude!
This negative conditioning in the West towards things Russian obviously had roots at some stage and later, reflecting on it I could see how it might have come about. We will leave religion aside for the moment, although it does play some part. The main culprit in my opinion, is the colonial mindset, combined with actual ignorance. To people in the West, meaning Western Europe and Britain, throughout centuries Russia has always been something dark and unknown and therefore to be feared and distanced from. There were few very sparse contacts but on the whole Russia and the West kept themselves to themselves. And until Peter the Great came along, that arrangement absolutely suited Russians as well. They regarded the West as heinous and un-Godly and much preferred to keep that distance. Tsar Peter has changed all of that in his drive to “open a window into Europe” as he put it.
What is not widely known about “superior” Europe of these days and that includes Britain, is that people there never bathed, fearing that it would kill them. When Tsar Peter arrived there with his entourage for their big Euro tour, they were absolutely shocked at the smell and stink of unwashed bodies, even in the palaces. Russians, before baths and showers were ever invented, for centuries had a wonderful tradition of having a “banya” once a week. Sort of like a nice steamy sauna but with an addition of hot water to actually wash yourself. Now, tell me, what nation is more civilized here?
The Russian Tsar, on the other hand was viewed in the West as some strange and fascinating curiosity. When the average person height in those days was shorter than it is now, Tsar Peter, being a young man, virile, handsome, did not wear wig, full of energy AND at 6’8” tall, of course, towered above everyone. At least now the West had a real chance to see a real Russian.
The tour was a great success. Tsar Peter brought back with him some craftsmen, some interesting new inventions, like the sextant and some experienced boat builders. His burning ambition was for Russia to have a Navy, although at that time it was totally landlocked from both Baltic and Black seas.
At some stage Peter also had to fight and defeat the Swedish King who at the time was trying to expand his kingdom into the rest of Europe. Peter had to get him off the land where he wanted to build his new capital, St Petersburg (he never liked Moskva) and that, of course, gave him an access to the Baltic Sea. In the process he also liberated these parts of Europe that the war-addicted Swedish King had managed to grab. Sweden still cannot forgive Russia for that. Afterwards the energetic Russian Tsar set out to build his new capital, laid foundations for his Navy and among many other things made his Boyars in court shave their beards and wear European attire, complete with powdered wigs. Those who refused to obey and shave Tsar himself did it for them and then fined them heavily. One does not trifle with Imperial orders! Eventually he got himself named an “anti-Christ” by the Russian Church, that passionately believed that Russia should not be “westernized”, that it had it’s own destiny and it’s own path. I tend to agree with them there. Meanwhile Europeans had discovered that they had nothing to fear from Russia and that bathing did not kill them after all and everything went rather swimmingly for a while between Russia and the West.
Until the start of the Industrial revolution.
The West suddenly realized that for such one needs lots of resources, which the West did not have but others did. Everyone went busily sailing around the world looking whom they can easily colonize and loot. Britain, one has to say, outdid every other European rival in those pursuits. Then, when the supply of countries to loot started to dwindle, the collective West turned it’s gaze upon… Russia. And this, in my opinion, was the moment when that animosity had taken root. Here was a country, with hardly any population to speak of, occupying huge territory and not just that, full of everything one can only dream about, every great resource imaginable, including gold and diamonds…
There was only one problem. Those “bloody Russians” in the way!
So, that was the start of it – fueled by greed, envy, resentment and hatred. The rest we all know. The “relentless marches” on Russia, mostly in gangs. Both Napoleon and Hitler had lots of willing European accomplices, all wanting a share of the spoils. Well, they all got what they deserved and here we are now, in 21st century and they are STILL at it! Lessons not learned. Only this time they got themselves a big bully that they can all hide behind but unfortunately for them this bully cannot fight. At least not a serious opponent. Some little helpless nations around the world, no problem, drop few bombs, show up with one of your “carrier groups” and it’s all honky dory. Here, it is facing RUSSIA, a nation that NEVER lost a war.
And now we have this NATO – another gang, controlled by this bully. The problem for them is that NONE of them can really fight, even as a gang and so, what we now have is a circus show, called exercises, each one with more ferocious name than the last. Russia is watching these clowns prancing on her borders and has left them in no doubt whatsoever that just one step over that border and there will be nothing left of them, INSTANTLY. They can also install their missile bases in Romania and Poland, or in any other little euro vassal, sorry, NATO ally, that wants to make itself a prime target – anything fired from those will be immediately shot down and the place from where it was fired will be just one large smouldering crater, several kilometers in diameter. No, Russia does not consider NATO a big threat. Just a nuisance. The game that is being played here is as follows: “we”, NATO allies have to scream very loud and very often about “Russian aggression” and “Russian treat”- failing that this NATO becomes irrelevant and the big MIC will not be able to suck up trillions of taxpayers money to line some very, very deep pockets. And while we are at it, we will force our “allies” to buy our military junk at exorbitant prices. So, here you have it.
I think people in the West hearing this Russophobic propaganda garbage 24/7 start believing it and start imagining that perhaps all of this is true, but remember what Goebbels, Hitler’s chief of propaganda advocated – keep repeating a lie often enough and they will eventually believe you.
Russia is not your enemy. All it wants from the West is to be left alone and also to be shown some respect. This arrogant, talking down to, insulting approach has no place in dealings with an old civilized and cultured nation like Russia, which is also extremely well-armed. That attitude actually reflects very badly on the West and on state of mental midgetry of their politicians, who do not seem to have any grasp that such approach will lead them nowhere. Most of course are puppets, just doing what Uncle Sam is telling them but here is a word of warning – following Uncle Sam might lead one to the cliff edge…
Another bit of info that you will not find in western MSM – RF (Russian Federation) Immigration Services are inundated with applications from people in the West, including USA, (and I am not talking about expats), who want to move to Russia. These people see it as some kind of Noah’s Ark, compared to what is coming to their countries. Living in Russia they feel they can be free to be a normal family with normal family values, not parent1 and parent2, but Mum and Dad and where their children can grow up in a normal environment, without being subjected to creepy gender selections.
In conclusion I will say this – in my experience most people are not that different from each other, after all we are ALL human and we all want the same in life – love, appreciation, family and a future for our children. It’s not that hard to get along if you want to. But what we also have in common is a common enemy that hates humanity and wants us culled (their expression) and what’s left, subjugated. So, rather than facing each other with hands in a fist, how about we direct our attention and all our energies to fighting THAT evil, the one that wants to destroy us all.