No Illusions Left, I’m Leaving Russia
Published: June 25, 2014 (Issue # 1817)
I want to confess that I did something foolish once when I was young. Back in 1993, I abandoned my university studies in California and returned to Moscow. European nations had signed the Maastricht Treaty and I dreamed that Russia would join the European Union.
It seems I was not alone. Former President Boris Yeltsin said, “Europe without Russia is not Europe at all. Only with Russia can it be a Greater Europe, with no possible equal anywhere on the globe.”
Yeltsin died, as have many other people and ideas since then. After the annexation of Crimea, it became clear that not only Turkey and Albania, but even Ukraine would join the European Union before Russia does.
So, my dream of becoming a European citizen within my own country has vanished. Therefore, I will be moving to Berlin shortly.
The idea of emigrating has tempted and teased me all my life. But here I should make another confession: despite my knowledge of foreign languages and my Jewish ethnicity, I am a patriot, and Russia’s ability to “get up from its knees” in the years since 1991 has been a great source of joy to me.
I would love to not only see how future events unfold in Russia, but to play a part in them by helping to create a truly free press — the kind that, as in the U.S., would publish the revelations of men like former National Security Administration leaker Edward Snowden.
Now that work has ended for me. That is not to say I accomplished nothing. In fact, some of the media outlets that I had the opportunity to help create remain independent and refuse to compromise to this day.
But overall, my dreams were defeated. Now Russia’s mainstream media ranges from the bulging-eyed hyperbole of pro-Kremlin television anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, to the intellectual “we’re talking but nobody’s watching” Dozhd television programs. Those somewhere in the middle are not only uninteresting, but bear no relationship to the media’s primary function — namely, to protect the weak from the strong.
Now the strong have lost all shame.
Facebook news feeds tell us that a foreign rock star was banned from performing in Russia for “possibly promoting nontraditional sexuality to children,” the authorities blame the latest Proton rocket crash on sabotage at the Khrunichev Space Center, passionate voices say it is time to change the name of Volgograd back to Stalingrad, anyone holding more than just Russian citizenship must report the fact to the authorities, Internet users must officially register their blogs…and so on.
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