Posts Tagged ‘Russians’


January 26, 2016

Today I watched a documentary Putin’s Secret Riches ( )which was shown on the BBC’s Panorama yesterday evening. Besides his probable involvement in poisoning Mr. Litvinenko, the Russian president is accused of looting his own country on an extraordinary scale. With his official salary of $110,000 a year, Putin is said to be in possession of $40bn in secret shareholdings – the fact which he, naturally, denies. He denies it in his usual boorish style: “They picked that information out of their own noses and smeared it all over their little papers.” However, the correspondent Richard Bilton is rather convincing in his argumentation when he produces documents proving Mr. Putin’s riches, plays back wire-tapped phone conversations, and interviews people, some of whom themselves had helped Putin to accumulate that wealth but later fell out with their patron, fled their homeland and are now on the run in other countries.

Actually, the BBC didn’t tell anyone here, in Ukraine, what we hadn’t suspected about Putin before. The same, we knew, was the case with the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The tradition to profit from one’s job position, to use it as a personal enrichment machine by robbing one’s own country blind goes back to the Russian czars’ times.

I’m sure, the Russians won’t be surprised or indignant over the disclosed facts about their president either. “So what?” will they say, “the guy (the President) had a chance which anyone in his place would have used.” That’s why, when Brian Whitmore in his latest Daily Vertical says that the mask has come off the Putin regime for much of the world and now it remains to wonder how long it’ll be before it comes off for the Russians themselves, I smile at the naivety of these words and say to myself, “Never. Never will the mask come off for the Russians. They don’t want it to come off. They canonized czar Nicholas II into a saint, at the same time they line up in Red Square to pay homage to Lenin, the embalmed murderer of the czar; they brought Stalin (a murderer of millions upon millions of the people) back into existence, and they will be ready to idolize any nonentity just for being a “czar”…

There’s an interesting cross-cultural moment in Richard Bilton’s film which, I think, the correspondent has overlooked. While discussing Putin’s financial matters over the phone, not to reveal the true owner of the money his agents use the name “Mikhail Ivanovich” as an alias for their boss. That’s a traditional nickname for a “bear” in Russian fairy tales for children. With “Mikhail Ivanovich” being respectively the first name and the patronymic name, the surname “Toptygin” (“Trampler”) is often added to them. So, Vladimir Putin… Mihail Ivanovich Toptygin, the Russian bear… The name which, for Russians, evokes fear, respect and nostalgic love.



December 25, 2015

I have browsed a few Russian sites posting interviews from the streets of Moscow about (A) a Ukrainian politician the Muscovites could trust, (B) political allies of Russia, (C) looking back at year 2015; D) reasons for sanctions imposed against Russia. Here are some answers which, in my opinion, are most typical and indicative of the Russians’ mentality in general and their present-day thinking in particular:

A) the Ukrainians need a leader who will make them understand that they are inseparable from the Russians and that both our peoples are Slavs;


Out of all Ukrainian politicians I like Yanukovych most of all. The life was quiet under his rule, and there were no problems with crossing the border into and out of Ukraine;


I don’t understand the Ukrainians. They are their own worst enemy – shooting themselves in the foot;


All their politicians are extortionists;


I like Mikhail Saakashvili and what he does in Odessa fighting corruption;


B) Our Army and Navy;


There are only enemies round us;


Cuba, North Korea, China, India;


C) Life has become more difficult but we will manage without the French cheese – we’ll be eating our Russian cheese. The main thing is that the people are more up-and-coming;


The relationship with Europe has worsened but we are more respected;


Life has become harder but the authorities promise things will improve and, hopefully, they will…


I hope Putin will stay in power in 2016– let him implement what he has planned, let him do something for us too;


We are bombing Syria to have peace. The terrorists will see that things may get even hotter for them if they try to come and take us here…”;


D) Sanctions have been imposed (against us) because we are getting ever stronger;


We aren’t liked – that’s the reason;


Because we are inflexible, but the sanctions are useful: when people undergo pressure they get united;


Because we are a “devil-may-care” type and because we love our motherland;


Bastards, they want to crush us;


Putin has shown that he is strong – that’s why sanctions are imposed;


Because Russia does not agree to what all others agree about;


Because we live in the 21st century;


Because we have destroyed the new world order.


I may agree to the answer about the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, and I partially agree to the statement about the “extortionists” (still, not ALL of the Ukrainian politicians are such). But only the last three answers show some critical thinking on the part of the interviewees (although it might happen that their criticism is only the result of their “chip-on-shoulder” attitude). My impression, however, is that the Russian Vasya Pupkin (the equivalent of “average Joe”, or “plain Jane” in English) is nobody but a bigot zombied by the state TV propaganda. The trouble is that Vasya has a nuclear bomb in his hip pocket.


October 19, 2014

 I have translated this blog recommended by my friend. The Russian original is at the address:

This morning my daughter, a well-known rolling stone, returned from Poland. To my question about her travelling experience she told me, quite emotionally, about “gorgons”, by which she referred to her travel companions in the train compartment. As regards the “gorgons”, the characteristics was Tanya ‘s own opinion, but I usually trust her estimate of other people.

All the way in the carriage the companions were grooving first on “caddish” Poles.Then they switched over to “sticky-fingered” Ukrainians. When the train was approaching the Byelorussian border, they remembered “shameless” Byelorussians. My daughter (a wise thing!) was keeping unperturbed silence. With all the nationalities picked to the smallest pieces, the patriots started asking each other ruefully: “Why doesn’t anybody love us, the Russians?”

Finally, they took a notice of their compatriot who was staying away from their convivial discussion. They decided to amend the situation and chose what they thought to be a sure-fire theme.

“Hey, sister, what do you think of Barack Obama?”

In cases like that I usually disregard the talk, bury myself in a book and accept what is going on as an inevitable evil, or I puff up in a way a blowfish does. As for my daughter, she only gave a beaming smile and said, “Why Obama? We are Russians, aren’t we? Let’s talk about Pushkin…”

Silence prevailed in the compartment.

Translator’s Note: Pushkin’s great-grandfather, a Black African, was kidnapped and brought to Russia as a gift for Peter the Great.

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