Friday, March 05, 2010

Sarkozy finally got it right

According to Pavel Felgenauer there seems to have been another political tradeoff in Paris this week, indirectly connected with the Mistral warship. Sarkozy, for the first time, publicly accepted the Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008: “In the Georgian crisis I think he [Medvedev] defended Russian interests, when he did what he did” (, March 2).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Change? I don’t think so.

While many of us might hope that the financial crisis will bring some serious change to Russia, my good Russian friend Oleg explained to me one evening over dinner why that won’t happen. “You see”, he said, tapping his fork on the rim of his plate, then pointing it at me, “Russian’s are extremely adaptable to misery and authoritarianism. To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you a Russian anecdote”:
In an industrial monotown in the south of Russia, they produced during the communism left shoes of a well known Russian brand. The right ones were produced in Siberia. Not to wonder, business wasn’t going too well for the factory, so one day the local apparatchik addressed the workers: “Next week you have to work seven days and get paid for four days. Any questions?” No, there was no questions. The next week, things were as bad as before, and the apparatchik addressed the workers again: “Next month you have to work seven days a week. Nobody gets paid. Any questions?” No questions. A month passed, but things hadn’t improved at all, and he again stood in front of the workers with a sinister look on his face: “Tomorrow every fifth worker will be hanged. Any questions?” A tiny woman raised her hand and stuttered: “Are we supposed to bring our own rope?”

“That’s how the Russian mind works after 80 years of intellectual deconstruction”, Oleg assures me. “That’s why there will be NO change”.