On Ukraine and Russia

Does anyone else also find it cruelly amusing that when Russia is meddling with Ukraine it says it is "protecting" Russians within another country's borders? But when any of the several dozen ethnic groups within Russia - and many of them comprise a majority within their regions, and not a minority - try to have some sort of a semi-autonomic setup, Russia calls it separatism and terrorism and, quite literally, bombs the heck out of civilians?

On the same note, Masha Gessen's The Man Without a Face is a pretty good read if you're interested.

There are too many Russian names scattered throughout the text for my liking, and I think it may make it somewhat confusing for non-Russian speakers, but if you try and ignore the names and just look at it in a nutshell - an anti-Putin journalist, killed, a Chechen-friendly journalist, killed, an opposition leader, killed, a pro-democratic businessman, imprisoned - then you may just walk away from this book counting your lucky stars that you haven't been born a Russian citizen.

For me, it was weird reading this book because having grown up watching - among other things - Russian television channels the likes of RTR, ORT and NTV, many of the events Masha Gessen was describing in retrospect were WAY different from what I remember them being presented as back then. The rhetoric was so different!

As I was reading the more memorable bits out loud to The Man, he kept asking how it is possible to get away with stuff like that, how would people of a country let something like this happen, over the years in an ever-growing intensity, and I could only think that... back then, you just didn't know.

Sure, I was only a teenager in the late 90's so my picture of what a state television channel was like and how politics were portrayed is very watered down not only because I don't remember much of it, but because I wasn't politically engaged anyway - however, even I, in my "teenagerness", remember that what I learned about the theatre siege, and the school siege, and Politkovskaya, and Khodorkovsky, and Gusinsky and whatever, was NOT what I was now reading from Masha Gessen's account, and Masha's account makes quite a bit of sense.

I don't understand what's happening in Ukraine at the moment, but I have a feeling that there is going to be a lot of confusing, misinterpreted and false accounts of the events and it's not going to be until ten, twenty years later when this stuff becomes "history" that it will be properly understood and in retrospect, so many things will probably become oh-so-apparent.

It's the beauty of hindsight right there.

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