criticizing Russia as a foreigner

Being in a foreign country is an interesting experience. You have your ups, downs and in-betweens, but one thing to keep in mind is how your host country responds to any negative opinion you might have. In my case this is Russia and I'll get pissed off here, just like anywhere else in the world - this is when you start offending the natives.

When you first move to a new country, for the most part, it's like a new relationship (if you choose to move there of course). Everything is fresh, new and exciting. A simple exchange with a native taxi driver becomes a magical experience, one to cherish forever. Later, when you arrive back in your own country, you can pretend you are on a higher level of cultural awareness as you tell your friends how you soul bonded forever with the natives of 'wild' Russia

                                                               It was a special moment in my life 

Then, just like in a relationship, things become routine. The once-nymphet crazy girl who loved to experiment like Mendeleev trades in her stripper pole for a $5 head lamp that she straps on for reading in the dark before bed. 
And, for your part, you grow a pot belly, live in your underwear and wonder where the magic went.

That’s the extreme, but we all get conformable in our little routine so when you live in your new home for a while, bit by bit you start you see the cracks - like when the post service never delivers anything you order or you get abused by some fat, rude babushka - on a daily basis.

As a foreigner, by criticizing anything in Russia, there will be those who say 'oh you just want to ruin Russia's reputation', 'you're just like Western media' etc etc. I think they believe there is a big world conspiracy to talk shit about Russia. The reality is, very, very few people give a shit.

                                                     how dare you talk shit about Russian traffic 

As one example, I usually, I see my post on corruption pop up in translation on Russian sites, the humor is badly translated and it seems to rile a lot of people up.
I was more venomous in that post because I wrote it after one of my ex girlfriends was sexually harassed so bad by her boss she had to leave her job, needless to say, my anger came through.

I don't think it's any great secret that there's a lot of corruption in Russia, fuck, even king Putin said it was one of the number one problems and look at all the shit Navalny says, he rages on corruption like there's no tomorrow - his media title is even anti-corruption blogger!

Another thing that got translated was about my website launch. You can see here from the comments that I'm being character assassinated, abused and having my site shit on, all because I blasted shitty VK advertising. Of course, they totally missed the catch 22 part when I can't advertise because I sell supplements, except, wait, I don't sell sell them...

To a lot of people, you as a foreigner don't have the right to criticize, even if some corruption or poor public service penetrates your expat bubble. If you do say anything, you're just another foreigner talking shit about Russia and you hate it - even when you don’t hate it.

Something I get thrown in my face is people presuming I think England, my homeland, is perfect - it's not, but like I've said about a million times my blog isn't about that.

Shit, in England you can't order a black coffee without someone thinking you're racist.

                                                                                          oh yes

Nothing and nowhere is perfect - that is my conclusion and each country has its pros and its cons - there's no such thing as paradise on earth. Fuck, even if there was, human nature would make turn it into routine and we'd get bored anyway. Plus there'd still be shittie youtube haters.

There are expats here that that really suck back the Russian Kool aid, they become so pro-Russia it almost becomes ridiculous, they become defensive of any word against Russia. If the Russian police rape stomp some girl, they'll be quick to quip some fact about US police brutality -  totally missing the point that the Russian police committed a crime. People who liked Stalin were in denial of his crimes too, even when the evidence kept piling up (another topic to stay away from btw).

Who knows why some expats turn into such mad Russia lovers, maybe it's because they can get laid here by saying nice things about Russia, maybe they secretly believe Obama really is the anti-Christ in disguise set on destroying America like some maniacal (socialist) super villain.

                                                                               you can’t fool me Obama!

Nationalists are just as blind as the ultra non-nationalists but I like to think the 'truth' (which in itself is a relative concept) lies in the middle with nihilistic douches like myself. 

So, after my years here, I have my opinions and they're quite well fixed. They’re not all bad and they sure aren't all good. But, not everyone will like what you have to say and who has time for debating shit? I'll leave that to the comment section on almost any corner of the interwebs.

As my friend said, the best answer for when people ask you about what you think of Russia is this:
Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad

That magic phrase sure saves a lot of hassle (and a few fights).

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Anonymous said...

Lol. There are always ppl who take personally when you critisize their country and can happen in any country.Russian ppl might be more vulneruble to that cause if you watch tv western mass media always make look Russia as a bad place .I'm sorry about what happened to your girlfriend that was really ugly.But really it might occur in GB or anywhere . Russia is really far from being perfect but Europe and America as well.May be you should learn some history in order to understand why ppl in Russia are different , they suffered alot. WW1, Revolution, Stalin ,WW2, SOviet Union collapse . Its just to easy to hate and get pissed off . Use ur brain and heart to understand.Honestly man i see too much hatred towards russians in your article

Lt. Columbo on February 5, 2014 at 11:16 PM said...

thanks for the comment

I was actually holding back in this piece, it really isn't hateful.

Anonymous said...

One thing that I've noticed about Russians is that they're very hypocritical. Many (not all) Russians who come to live in the U.S. talk shit about this country all the time. But then when a foreigner comes to Russia, that foreigner has no right to criticize it -- even when someone talks trash about your country right in your face.

Lt. Columbo on April 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM said...

Very true, most Russians seem to blast the US all day every day, probably because it's an easy target. but, there's probably a lot of jelly there too. It's a fact that the average standard of living is far higher in the US than it is in Russia

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