Thursday, October 20, 2016
I have been in Moscow, Russian Federation, for nine days now. No one here thinks that Russia and the U.S. will go to war. Absolutely no one. Maybe they are delusional, but there is no war hysteria as there is in the US media and administration.
The story about President Putin ordering 40 million Russians to make preparations for a nuclear attack is blatantly false, and every Russian, including my American journalist friend, laughed when I asked if it was true.
Russian people want peace and harmony in the world. They do not want to dominate. They want respect and a place at the table. They are resisting US attempts to dominate and create a unipolar world. This is something Russia and China will not agree to. Their vision is for a multipolar world. But, it will not be Russia that takes the world to war. As President Putin has said, I will defend my country, and there will never be another war fought on Russian territory. The US should take this very seriously.
The thing most Americans do not understand about Russian people is that they are only 70 years removed from the most horrific battles of the Great War – WWII. 27 Million Russians died during the Nazi invasion. Everyone has a grandfather, grandmother, or even mothers and fathers who died or served in the war. Women and children worked to support the soldiers who were defending their homeland. Everyone was involved in defending Russia. Millions died of disease and starvation. For Russians, wars and invasions have been part of their history for centuries. They are pragmatic, grounded, and stoic. Not much ruffles their feathers.
As I have reported elsewhere, Moscow is a city of 17 million people, 20 million in the metropolitan area. This place is spotlessly clean and safe. The people are friendly. They are all very well educated and cultured. They dress and look just like Americans. Their boulevards are wide and filled with traffic. Most speak another language. And like most other people in the US, they go about their daily lives. They love their children and are not hesitant to show their love in public. Gays and Lesbians are not persecuted here. In Soviet times, homosexuality was against the law, but no longer. Gay marriage however is not allowed.
There are different views about Russian politics and leaders, but no different than anywhere else. Some love President Putin, others no so much. But, I have not seen a glimpse of the vile, personal and outrageous crap that now characterizes the US and the US elections which my friends think is a circus. And from what I can determine, the Russian people are not pitted against each other over a myriad of issues.
There is only one thing that has been lacking! I have been here for nine days and have not seen the sun. It hasn’t rained, but it is dark and gloomy and cold. Not freezing cold, but cold and windy. Overnight temperatures dip down into the mid 30’s F, and during the day rise to the 40’s.
Tomorrow, I will be off on the second leg of my journey of discovery to St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad and Petrograd. I will travel by high speed train with my Russian host, Ruzhena, arriving in St. Petersburg at 5:40 pm. I’ll be staying in a Marriott hotel in the center of the city for the outrageous amount of $62 per night!
This afternoon I will interview someone who works for the State Duma, Russia’s parliament. That should be interesting. Later this evening, I’ll interview a group of activists and then have late tea with a family.
My daily schedule has been nothing like it was in the US. I rarely get to bed before midnight and have been sleeping 9-10 hours, so I am well rested. I read, research and write my blog in the morning. Breakfast and lunch are one and the same. I shop at the local market for bread, cheese, cooked chicken, eggs, salami, veggies, instant coffee (seems they drink a lot of tea) and wine. Breakfast/lunch is my scrambled eggs and veggie mix. Couldn’t find salsa, so it isn’t very spicy. The evening meal, if I eat at home, is cold, cooked chicken after bread, cheese, and salami snack, always accompanied with wine. And then, before bed, a shot of vodka which I am particularly fond of.
I have my Russian hat, vodka, but still haven’t found a cigar store to buy a couple of Cubans. Hope St. Petersburg will satisfy that quest!