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No Illusions Left, Im Leaving Russia

Published: June 25, 2014 (Issue # 1817)




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I want toconfess that I did something foolish once when I was young. Back in1993, I abandoned my university studies inCalifornia andreturned toMoscow. European nations had signed theMaastricht Treaty andI dreamed that Russia would join theEuropean Union.

It seems I was not alone. Former President Boris Yeltsin said, Europe without Russia is not Europe atall. Only with Russia can it be aGreater Europe, with no possible equal anywhere onthe globe.

Yeltsin died, as have many other people andideas since then. After theannexation ofCrimea, it became clear that not only Turkey andAlbania, but even Ukraine would join theEuropean Union before Russia does.

So, my dream ofbecoming aEuropean citizen within my own country has vanished. Therefore, I will be moving toBerlin shortly.

Theidea ofemigrating has tempted andteased me all my life. But here I should make another confession: despite my knowledge offoreign languages andmy Jewish ethnicity, I am apatriot, andRussias ability toget up fromits knees inthe years since 1991 has been agreat source ofjoy tome.

I would love tonot only see how future events unfold inRussia, but toplay apart inthem byhelping tocreate atruly free press thekind that, as inthe U.S., would publish therevelations ofmen like former National Security Administration leaker Edward Snowden.

Now that work has ended forme. That is not tosay I accomplished nothing. Infact, some ofthe media outlets that I had theopportunity tohelp create remain independent andrefuse tocompromise tothis day.

But overall, my dreams were defeated. Now Russias mainstream media ranges fromthe bulging-eyed hyperbole ofpro-Kremlin television anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, tothe intellectual were talking but nobodys watching Dozhd television programs. Those somewhere inthe middle are not only uninteresting, but bear no relationship tothe medias primary function namely, toprotect theweak fromthe strong.

Now thestrong have lost all shame.

Facebook news feeds tell us that aforeign rock star was banned fromperforming inRussia forpossibly promoting nontraditional sexuality tochildren, theauthorities blame thelatest Proton rocket crash onsabotage atthe Khrunichev Space Center,passionate voices say it is time tochange thename ofVolgograd back toStalingrad, anyone holding more than just Russian citizenship must report thefact tothe authorities, Internet users must officially register their blogsandso on.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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