Completely Open Thread

Sorry, people, I have an urgent translation order, so I’m concentrating on that and not writing all the fascinating posts I would like to be writing.

In the meanwhile, say, ask, link and mention anything you want in the comment section. This is my very first completely open thread ever and I hope it is successful.

Will There Ever Be an Understanding?

Two readers have written in to ask what I think about Madonna’s and Paul McCartney’s very public support of “Pussy Riot”, a group of women who are on trial for hooliganism (which consisted of performing an offensive “song” inside Russia’s most important cathedral).

All I can say is that this story reminds me of something that happened when I was 6 years old. This was in 1982, at the height of what was known as the Soviet Stagnation era. My father listened to the BBC and Radio Freedom every night. This was, of course, not allowed but he didn’t care.

“This is useless,” I once heard him tell my mother. “The Westerners will never understand us because they try to analyze what happens here in the terms that are familiar to them. They simply don’t have enough imagination to step outside that framework and realize that we are not them and things are very different here.”

“I knew that listening to that radio would not end well,” my mother said.

“All they talk about,” my father continued,” is how our human rights are violated because we are not allowed to travel overseas! I’m a scholar, I have a PhD and I can translate from 7 languages. Yet tomorrow I will have to suspend my research for 2 weeks and go sort rotting cabbage. Is anybody on BBC talking about this violation of my human rights? No, they aren’t. They just bellyache about foreign travel, like it’s something we even care about. Like it’s something we could ever afford.”

“I always knew these Westerners had no clue,” my mother responded.

The Cold War has long been over but many people still don’t have a clue. Less than a year ago, the elections to the Russian Parliament were egregiously falsified. Since then, many of the protesters have suffered from persecution, arrests, beatings, etc. The former Ukrainian prime-minister Yulia Timoshenko is tortured in her prison cell where she was put by the political faction financed directly by Putin. I could sit here until next year, listing the truly egregious violations of human rights in the FSU countries.

But nobody cares. All we read and hear about is a very successful PR campaign of 3 very talentless “performers” who will now milk the dense Westerners for money and fame for the next few decades.