OPINION: You can create a case for the theory that Vladimir Putin is our enemy. Actually, you can say the complete Russian government is really a sinister foe fairly.
The Russians have already been meddling in elections, poisoning spies and  allegedly; shooting planes down, invading another national country, hacking computers, sponsoring rampant drug cheating, and who knows, even colluding with or blackmailing a US president maybe.
You could easily look at all that and see Russia because the enemy. And you also could then take a little further and assume that the federal government is actually representative of its people. You can consider the stern faces and the opaque culture of everyday figure and Russians they, too, aren’t our friends. The complete nation is our rival. Us good, Russia bad.
But you would be wrong there. Because Putin could be nefarious in intent, and the Russian government could be questionable in its actions. However the Russian people? Russia itself? No beef is had by us with this particular nation.
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If you’ve been watching the Fifa Month roughly world Cup during the last, you’ll know this already. That which was being touted as the utmost unfriendly tournament ever sold was no such thing potentially. The Russians were great hosts; generous, friendly hosts. They placed on a fun, enjoyable competition much without incident pretty.
That’s not just a surprise. It gels pretty much with the Russia I understand actually, and the Russians I understand. This national country may seem just like the big scary, but it’s a classic great place, as a travel destination particularly.
The nagging problem is that for the uninitiated, Russia, and Russians, are confusing. It is a foreign land where things don’t work how you might expect them to. People look just about exactly like you do there, plus they are expected by one to act exactly like you do. And yet, they don’t.
Most Russians are pretty unfriendly and stern. They don’t really wave and say hello to strangers. They ignore them. There have been stories before this World Cup of local hosts being delivered to special classes to understand how exactly to smile properly, such may be the Russian aversion to overt displays of joy, particularly if fond of people they don’t really know. Russians tend to be more circumspect far; you must work with a welcome.
Everything in Russia just seems too a little more brutal, a little starker, than it really is in the home. The national drink isn’t something subtle and beautiful like wine, and even beer; it’s vodka, drunk in straight shots, a throat-burning ritual that just seems made to take one to boozy oblivion in the shortest time possible.
The weather is cold bitterly. The architecture – or at the very least, the buildings that survive from the Soviet era – is bleak and unlovely. And on the other hand, the style sense is outlandish bizarrely. No wonder we’re confused; no wonder we think this accepted place is indeed strange.
We in the West have a tendency to forget, too, what Russian culture represents. The doping is remembered by us and the poisoning, the oligarchs and the KGB. We realize Lenin and Stalin, Dzerzhinsky and putin. But we just forget about each of the contributions to the creative arts, to science, to history. We just forget about Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Baryshnikov and tchaikovsky.
When you happen to be Russia, as so many football fans have, you understand the real country reveal itself. You see that among those Communist-era apartment blocks are structures of great beauty there, churches and palaces and castles more spectacular than any you’ve ever seen. You crack the locals’ brittle exterior and discover warm hearts within. You understand that of what Putin is around regardless, many of these people are exactly like you’re just, normal citizens looking to get by just.
You need to disregard the politics to see this. You need to pretend that Russia’s dictatorial leader isn’t almost comically sinister, that elections in Russia aren’t rigged, that the country’s recent record on homophobia and racism isn’t highly questionable, and that the members of Pussy Riot who staged a pitch invasion through the World Cup final aren’t currently locked deep in the bowels of the Lubyanka, to be observed again never.
And granted, that is clearly a lot to ignore. But those ideas are really unrepresentative of the Russia I’ve seen, and individuals I’ve met. That falls much nearer to the national country that is on display in this World Cup, the genuinely kind and cultured Russia highly, the interesting, surprising Russia.
You need to visit that there. You must stroll the streets of Moscow to realise how beautiful it really is. You will need to traverse Siberia to take into account how its vast bleakness plays in to the Russian psyche. You should visit Kazan, and St Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk, to realise that people can’t consider of all people who reside in these places because the baddies. It isn’t true.
Russia, and Russians, can make sense eventually. It takes time just, and patience, and vodka.
Have you gone to Russia? How achieved it is available by you? Is it dissimilar to what folks would expect? Or is Vladimir Putin a good representative of his country?