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Russia's Extended Family Is Falling Apart

By Ivan Sukhov

Published: September 4, 2014 (Issue # 1827)




  • Photo: Viktor Bogorad

The Ukrainian flag flutters among other European flags in front of a certain Greek hotel at the start of the early autumn tourist season. The hotel is brimming with Russians as well as plenty of Ukrainians. Almost all of them speak Russian, and the affable Greek waiters eagerly cater to these guests, most of whom are unable to communicate in anything but their native tongue. "Yes, of course I speak Russian," a typical waiter says in Russian. "Greece and Russia together — no America!" he adds.

It is probably rather unpleasant for the Russian-speaking Ukrainians to hear all that ingratiating nonsense about "good Russia" and "bad America," but they apparently don't know what to say or how to behave in such situations. For foreigners, the Russian language that these Ukrainians speak from birth indicates their nationality. For them, if you speak Russian, you are a Russian — period.

At issue here is not that waiters and bartenders in the warm Mediterranean countries are largely unaware of Ukraine's existence. The problem is larger than that. Despite the determined efforts made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several other European politicians to mediate the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, many people in the West consider it an exclusively Russian problem.

Because I am currently on vacation, I have the luxury of looking at this situation as something of an interested bystander. For example, I bought the Sept. 1 issue of Time magazine and found nothing about the Russian-Ukrainian crisis other than several readers' comments responding to an Aug. 4 article titled "Crime Without Punishment."

Readers primarily questioned how ethical it was for editors to publish shocking photos of bodies at the Malaysia Airlines crash site in Ukraine. A photo of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin appears on another page along with a quote from him: "If you want peace, you must use peaceful means."

That is very little coverage, even taking into account the fact that Time magazine has repeatedly run major stories on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. And it is far less than Russians and Ukrainians might expect to find written on the subject. In fact, it seems more appropriate for a conflict taking place "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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