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A Publication
on The Status of
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Stating the Broad Truth Russians Have Learned That the Grass Is Not Greener On The Other Side

By Milan Djurasovic

04 March, 2015

An ever decreasing segment of the Russian population continues to be sincerely convinced that those on the other shore enjoy the ever increasingly nebulous concept of democracy. The last two decades are awash with the most glaring examples of human rights abuses across the globe committed by those who, for various reasons, known and unknown, continue to be regarded by the mentioned Russian minority as morally superior and genuinely interested in their wellbeing. There are also those who are not equipped with the innate ability to ignore what is obvious, but who nevertheless accept the foreign banknotes because they believe that forming a viable opposition in Russia without such assistance is an impossible task. After all, one has to eat and drink, and according to many (and there is plenty of evidence which bolsters their claims), one often has to be content with prison food and frequently look over his/her shoulders if they choose to agitate against the corruption perpetrated by the Russian financial and political elite. The majority, however, has known for a long time that the Irving Berlin's song Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Betteris the most accurate way to describe the comparison of human rights abuses between their homeland and the foreigners who vilify and desire to change it.

If we have learned anything from the many recent uprisings and revolutions throughout the world it is that those who hand out the banknotes to a minority of agitators do not care about and, without a smidgen of compunction, use and abuse the majority who flood the streets with hope that they will live to see a day devoid of the omnipresent fears about whether or not they will be able to, at least two times a day, place something chewable in their children's hands. Moreover, there is plentiful evidence that emotional and financial attachments to those that foreign financiers sponsor are volatile and, in most cases, short-lived. The good guys become the bad guys overnight, as dispensable as toilette paper as soon as they make a single step that deviates from the path they are, sometimes knowingly and sometimes unwittingly, manipulated to follow.  

Those who wittingly collaborated with the Western advisers and financiers after the collapse of the Soviet Union are reviled in Russia. Young and old (but mostly old) curse the name of Anatoly Chubais, “the architect of privatization,” a recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars emanating from the World Bank and USAID, a man who in his relentless pursuit of dollar bills sent millions of his countrymen to their graves well before their time by handing the state property to private entities in rigged “loans for shares auctions.” When the Western media pundits criticize the immense economic inequality in Russia and its greedy oligarchs, the name Chubais ought to be in each of their sentences. But it almost never is. Chubais was their guy. Now, he is also JPMorgan Chase's guy and he is Council on Foreign Relations' guy.

The extent to which the Western elites and their Russian compliant admirers had ruined millions of realities is hardly ever talked about outside of Russian borders and therefore is not adequately understood. The following must be stressed repeatedly: During the 1990's, Russian economy and millions of lives were destroyed by the shock therapy imposed by the Western institutions. Yes, it is also true that these reforms were carried out with the help of Russian accomplices, but that does not at all justify the nth time the Western financial predators took advantage of a vulnerable population. 

In his book which covers the period of economic shock therapy and liberalization of the Russian economy, Professor Stephen F. Cohen writes that the life expectancy for males dropped to less than 60, the same as it had been at the end of the 19th century. Although the population of Russia is primarily urban, Cohen writes that ¾ of Russians were compelled to grow their own food to survive and stresses that the transition period of the 1990's resulted in more orphans than the deaths of millions in the Second World War. If one were a spiteful revisionist historian or a journalist wanting to infuse his/her piece with an indignant and/or serious tone, one could easily, frivolously and repeatedly use the term “genocide” to describe what took place in Russia as a result of the imposed economic reforms.  

In “The Globalisation of Poverty”, Professor Michel Chossudovsky writes that during the 1992-1993 period, when the Russian people were bestowed with the economic shock therapy, the average earnings were below ten dollars a month. University professors earned eight dollars a month while nurses in urban clinics earned two dollars less. A winter coat at the time could be bought for sixty dollars and a minor surgery was “equivalent to two to six months earnings which only the ‘nouveaux riches' could afford.”

It must be noted that adequate healthcare is not the only luxury these new “entrepreneurs” were able to afford. While the majority stood in bread lines and reused tea bags up to five times (a habit that persists to this day among some of the author's Russian friends) the new bourgeoisie meandered around the poverty in their new BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, and their thirst was quenched with imported “Russian vodka” from the U.S. at the price of $345—“four years of earnings of an average worker” (Chossudovsky). Amassing enormous chunks of the country's wealth in these circumstances is the biggest crime that old class of oligarchs (admired and defended by the Western media) committed, and not the dubious charges for dubious practices in an obviously corrupt system.

Professor Chossudovsky writes that it was not socialism that the Western powers were seeking to combat in the 1990's. “For the West, the enemy is not ‘socialism' but capitalism. The real aims were to figure out how to tame and subdue the polar bear, how to take over the talent, the science, the technology, how to buy out the human capital, how to acquire the intellectual property.” Curbing the rise of Russia as a major capitalist power and its inevitable “meddling” in the international affairs by preventing the formation of close ties between it and the leading capitalist countries of Europe is the primary wellspring of the conflict in Ukraine.  

The list of things deserving of criticism in the way Russia has been and continues to be run is endless, but for millions of average Russians who stepped out of the breadlines of the 90's and who, together with their families, lined up to have meals in hotel cafeterias and to reserve lounge chairs (paid for by their increased pensions and salaries) at various Croatian, Greek, Montenegrin, Spanish, Turkish, and Egyptian beach resorts throughout the summer months of the 2000's, the change for the better has been even more drastic and palpable than the change for the worse John Kerry's values underwent from his Vietnam Veterans Against the War  days to the ones consistently held by Senator John McCain.  Knowing this it becomes clear that in order to change the minds of 86% of Russians who continue to support Putin, the Pentagon sponsored think tank character assassination studies will have to change their strategy.

But it is no surprise that ad hominem attacks on the Russian president have become an indispensible feature of the majority of the Western media analysis of all things Russian. Very few Western journalists and experts dare to cover the meager salaries of Russian public sector workers or how that problem can be solved by raising taxes on the wealthy. Even if such journalists existed, who exactly would they expect to shock with the fact that the Russian doctors make as much as New York street performers? Profit is the end goal and the primary value of the Western world. In their respected countries, the Western oligarchs are doing their best to drive whatever is left of the public workers to chronic depression. For anything that the Russian elites do to harm their countrymen, there is always a Western equivalent, and in many cases an exponentially more vicious example of exploitation of the weakest members of their own society (and societies across the globe) by those who hoard billions, pulverize hundreds of thousands of people with their bombs, and fly in private jets with underage girls.

We have now come to the conclusion that is best summarized with four words that the Western mainstream media pundits resort to whenever they run out of arguments to defend the slave master mentality of their bosses or are confronted with indubitable evidence that the actions of the members of the political party they cheer for drove another average Joe to abject poverty: “BOTH SIDES DO IT!” [1] Generally speaking, this equivocation of Russia and the Unite States is true, but there are other glaring factors that cannot be easily disregarded even by the most biased observers of the resurging tensions between the top two global military powers.

For example, it is not Russia who has just finished parading its military equipment in a predominately English speaking town in Mexico some half a mile from the U.S.-Mexican border. A few days ago, armored vehicles adorned with American flags did that in Narva, Estonia. And it is not Russia who suffers from an everlasting, nagging impulse to disseminate its values across the globe by “twisting arms” and dropping enriched uranium on the population it wants liberated and sanctioning countries for transgressions they themselves commit regularly--and on a much wider scale. Russian experts and politicians are not preoccupying themselves (at least not so brazenly) with how best to instigate a regime change in the U.S. They are not inviting American congressmen to spell out in minute detail how best to overthrow the U.S. government.

Despite sanctions and continuous external provocation, a vast majority of Russians continue to demonstrate their opinion that the grass on the other side is just as dry and just as yellow. The West had their chance to show what their democracy looks like when they applied it to Russia in the 1990's. Their methods have not changed since then. There is nothing new that could be offered, and the Russian people have declared that they do not want another round of the old. The best thing to do is to let them be. Only when the external pressure subsides will they be able to address their own problems without being accused, sometimes rightfully and sometimes inaccurately, of working for or being exploited by foreign governments.

[1] Author is aware that this video is a parody.

 Milan Djurasovic, a graduate student at the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia.  He is a regular contributor to Kosovo 2.0. and Colors magazines.  https://www.facebook.com/milan.djurasovic






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