…looking from its RU corner:
America has always been a source of awe and inspiration to me. Back at my middle school I’d been reading Jack London books (not just about Yukon and Alaska), following political or cultural news about it, listening to American (and, surely, British) music, and reading countless books about it, both by US and Russian writers or journalists
During the 80s most of the information on the U.S. had been very biased, but I could still catch some pearls from the muddy waters of propaganda. When Perestroika came, the accents started to shift. For instance, I’ve been fascinated by the personality of President Ronald Reagan. The propaganda machine had painted him really black, picturing a new Hitler for the Soviet people, someone dreaming of starting a nuclear war with us, the most peace-loving nation in the world.
Which was when he and Gorbachev first met in Geneva. I noticed that he looked and behaved completely different from what I’d known from the Soviet media.
By summer 1988, when Ronald Reagan walked onto Red Square and gave a lecture at the Moscow State University, he had become one of the most respected figures in the USSR.
By the early 90s I’d been experiencing a romance with the United States; its movies, its lifestyle and, surely, its fantastic economic achievements. In my high school my classmates used to call me, sometimes ironically, ‘America’s fan’. That was true. No surprise that in August 1993 I did a miraculous move and became a foreign exchange student at Baylor University, Waco, Texas (lots of my hard work to get there is not an issue in this article).
This was truly a life-changing experience; not just an ‘America’s fan’ anymore from Moscow’s apartment buildings ghetto but a resident of one of the most iconic U.S. states, the Lone Star state, spending almost a year there. Meeting so many cool people, visiting so many places across the country. Since then, I’ve been three more times to the States, the last two of them to the Last Frontier, aka Alaska, in 2011 and 2017.
I still do respect and admire the United States, the country that I know relatively well, and truly think that in the deep and scary ocean of uncertainty and political unrest in the world it still is a guiding star for us all. Some might think I am naïve, but I believe I’m 200 per cent right simply based on my own life experience. (I happen to know here too many wheel-chair experts on America who have never been to the States, have never met an American in person and who don’t even speak English). Sure, the country, like any other, has its problems and drawbacks but just look at the big picture…
In fact, Dean, our US part of RUSUK, comes to me as an essence of a true American character: nice, eager to help and big-hearted.
…to start off, we in Russia basically still refer to the country as ‘England’ no matter what part of the United Kingdom we talk about or what person we meet. He or she would still be an Englishman or an Englishwoman to us even if this person comes from Edinburgh or Cardiff City. Personally, when I noticed the Welsh dragon flags waving over some beach-side houses back in North Cyprus, I came to a conclusion: this country is truly a United Kingdom of four home nations; not just some foggy ‘England’ from Soviet textbooks.
It’s funny but I haven’t been to the UK yet though I’ve met some very nice people from this country. My RUSUK lad Roger surely being one of them – and much more as has been proved to me. Unlike some stereotypes we’ve gotten in Russia from childhood, the British people are not cold or arrogant in any way. Sadly, the power of preconceptions rules the world… This could be your only experience to get the clear picture.
I understand that for a Russian I’m being quite an exception, just because of my personal life experience, but, again, just like in the US case, I do have a very good attitude towards the UK, even though I’ve never been there.
Look, back in school years I’ve been a Beatles fan, I’ve grown up on their music. Then I switched to Queen and finally landed at the Rolling Stones camp. I do admire British style. Its drinks, too, from various ales to whisky (okay, that’s Scottish). I understand that Great Britain has been the U.S. tutor in terms of world affairs which is cool to me. Finally, at the time of the World or European Cups, I follow the English football team, not the Russian.
But, once again, and what some people from abroad have been telling me over the years, I’m not a typical Russian.
Rusuk on RU US UK…….
In my personal look at the countries of my blog co-writers, USA and Russia, I firstly need to assure you all that I am no great fan of my own country either. Run by pathetic snobbish public-school-educated toffs without a morsel of empathy for the ordinary citizen, the UK has become a really horrible place. Brexit, voted for by an increasingly racist society, but sadly encouraged by a hugely deceitful and probably illegal campaign, is already beginning to ruin the place. “You ain’t not seen nothing yet,” as my cowboy friend would say. I’m so glad I don’t live there, and indeed haven’t visited for a long time now. Yes, I miss family and friends of course, but not the place.
So, when I tell you how much I also despise America and Russia, and what they are becoming, you won’t think me pro-British.
I have never been able to respect or even take seriously a nation that still fries, literally, people to death. OK, maybe not so often as before, but the USA still fries people to death. Medieval at best. They could put men on the moon before 1970 using calculator-style computers, and bring them safely back to our planet, but they still fry. It is also, rapidly, becoming one of the most divided places on earth. We all know the reasons, and indeed this blog has often considered what is happening there.
The bottom line for me is that Americans think they have the world’s oldest democracy, which actually isn’t true at all, but they don’t realise that this democracy is not what many of them think it is. Look at all the significant new laws coming in that add up to voter suppression, and indeed allow state legislatures to politicise, criminalise, and interfere in election administration. Yes, the blue side are doing just the opposite in some places, but all that means is a malignant two-tiered society when it comes to voting. Dangerous, and I don’t like it one bit. Of course, there are many countries in the world where democracy is dying, Turkey, Hungary and India to name a few, but what is happening in America today could so easily become increasingly similar.
Oh, and Americans can’t, or won’t, spell properly. Or any other word, come to that…….
When I was a 10-year-old in my last year of primary education, I became editor of our school newspaper. I decided, each month, what the lead story would be on our front-page. Most kids of my age probably had other things on their minds, but I was already becoming fascinated by current affairs, thanks to the wonders of the new-fangled TV, on which my parents had just mortgaged their life.
So my headline of “CUBAN BLOCKADE”, that period of time being the nearest I reckon we’ve ever come to nuclear war between the USA and Russia, was, to me, a rather telling and sophisticated headline, of which my teachers would be very proud. But I bloody spelt it BLOCK-AID, and had to endure months of spectacular ridicule.
But that potential conflict back in 1962 frightened me to death. Ever since, I’ve never trusted Russia. (Except when Gorby realised that there are better ways to manage foreign affairs..)
Even now, it’s a country that is becoming ever more authoritarian, going backwards in time at an alarmingly ever-increasing rate. I just hate the way that two Russian hit-men wandered all the way into Salisbury, to murder a couple of people that had incurred the wrath of Putin. In my bloody country! And he got away with it. Just like his ever-increasing amount of election wins – how does he do it?? Oh, he just bans any decent opposition politician from entering the election. Simples! What an absolute nightmare.
I do love my co-writers of this blog, and indeed other Americans and Russians I have met, but their countries leave me totally cold, as does mine.
What Rusuk thinks of RU, the US, and the UK
RU & US
Russians & Americans are far more alike than our two governments would like us to know.
- Both nations have been shaped by a history of expanding into a large continent all the way to the other ocean, often simply running over the indigenous people we met along the way.
- A Christian Church is, behind the scenes, shaping a large part of the political discourse in both countries. In my opinion negatively in both cases.
- Both nations to want to return to some imaginary past that never actually existed.
- The former alliance: For perhaps 100 years, the two nations were besties. A popular, romantic Russian story, The Red Sails, takes place in what is today’s California. An area shared by both countries in peace for many, many years.
- Both countries seem to be flirting with some form of a fascist fantasy called Populism. In each case, this experiment has resulted in the respective nations becoming more isolated.
By any measure we were best friends, but no more. The Revolution came and the Americans tried to help their long-time allies. The Communists were not amused and the stage was set for the Cold War.
I like Russia, a beautiful country filled with dolbre (kind) people. I even liked Putin when he first came to power. His policies were transparent and designed to help the Russian people during a period of dire economic hardship. But no more; today he seems most concerned with power. In order to cling to power past your expiration date, you need an enemy to rally the people, a common cause: “NATO & The Americans want to subjugate us and destroy Mother Russia.” Whatever, Dude.
The Americans are louder, we would prefer you say more open, and the Russians value family more. It’s obvious the Americans have more money, better roads, and our small towns are a complete contrast. We should be natural friends and perhaps will be again – but not until Putin leaves office.
When I look at Russia, I see opportunities missed (both ways) and a pretty country filled with natural resources – squandered. In a Putin & populist-free future, Russia may join the West and provide those vast resources and finished products in return for vast piles of money.
I have found them to be excellent hosts and now even friends. Now that I think about it, I may not be the best person to talk about a visit to Russia; see, I have never actually been a tourist. I’ve always stayed in homes and have been accompanied by native speakers. I have never been inside a Russian hotel. Anyway, if you get the chance do visit, I’ve spent months there and loved every adventure.
UK & US
Well hell, what is there to say? These Imperialists bastards killed our people, burned our homes, including one painted white. Ugly crimes continue even today; for example, their continued occupation of Jersey, that small island in the English Channel, supported by propagandists at the BBC, allowing them to look longingly at the French Coast. War will surely follow.
We have so much in common.