As an American living in the Russian Federation, I have the pleasure of having direct interaction with many Russian people from all walks of life. Many are Orthodox Christian believers who love the Church and love their own president, Vladimir Putin, and consider him as a Defender of Orthodox Christianity and Christianity everywhere in the world.
Many others are more jaded in their opinions and share skepticism of both their government and the Church, and still others hate Mr. Putin and don’t understand what the big deal about any religion is about at all.
The educational background of my friends in Russia ranges from school age kids to doctors and diplomates, and the most expert computer engineers at Kaspersky Labs, where I do a lot of my independent teaching work in the English language.
(I have incidentally met Eugene Kaspersky personally, and many of his executives, and there is a great deal that needs to be said about the insane treatment of this truly fabulous company by American politicrats. But that is for later.)
One thing that literally every person I talked to in Russia shared in common was a dislike and / or distrust of Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate in the USA.
Sometimes that dislike was mixed with fear of war with the US, and an overreaching sense that American people have completely lost their minds is common across a majority of Russians I speak to. Most of them are very interested in America, but the picture they get of us is shaped by the news media.
It is an extremely vital point to be made that the media that shapes Russia’s opinion of the United States is not the Russian state run media. At least, not alone.
The American media is piped into Russia pretty directly, so Russian people can see CNN and other major cable networks directly if they so choose.
In Moscow there are a fair number of Russian people that speak English, and at Kaspersky Labs many of them do. They understand for themselves what is going on in the USA but they suffer from a terrible lack of balanced information because the liberal networks pipe news into Russia and the conservative side doesn’t get a fair hearing.
Honestly with what Russia sees of “American Life” as presented by the liberal media, most of any propaganda work is already done. All the Russian networks have to do is rebroadcast it with translation.
Perhaps this is by design, as the liberal networks like CNN, TNT, The Learning Channel and others of this ilk paint a picture of America as a gay haven, a mecca of every sexually and mind-altering aberrant practice under the sun, and this is disgusting to a society that has largely retained some major elements of a very traditional point of view:
Drugs are NOT cool, and… Men are men, and women are glad of it!
I write all of this because it is necessary in order to give you some observed context for the issue at hand.
The Russian-American Congress in the United States sent an open letter to President Trump in the United States to express disappointment because of the difficulty in Russian-American relations.
The sentiments of the Russian-Americans in the United States and the Russian people here, as well as some of the less cynical “American Russians” here is pretty uniform – concern and disappointment, and even frustration. Here is a bit of what they have to say:
We, as Russian-Americans, are deeply affected by the recent rounds of sanctions. We can no longer rely on consulates in San Francisco and in Seattle for routine consular services. Many of us now have to fly across the country to get an appointment at the Russian Consulate in New York or Washington, D.C. for visas to visit family in Russia.
We can no longer invite our relatives to visit us because more visa applications from Russia are being rejected than ever before. The closure of the consulates and the expulsion of the diplomats have worsened our lives. And yet almost 90 percent of Russian-Americans voted for you in the hope that you would restore relations with Russia and lift the sanctions. Today, it appears that you are backing away from your campaign pledge to improve the bilateral relationship.
We do not support the present course of Russian-American relations. It cannot lead to anything good. It has become a serious obstacle to constructive dialogue. Moreover, this odious rhetoric against Russia breeds hatred toward all Russians. Five million Russian-Americans living in this country have to bear the brunt of the consequences of these reckless words and actions. Russian-Americans have come to face serious discrimination.
It does not serve the interests of America to collapse into the abyss of russophobia.
Here is the backstory in summary:
In Russia the American consulates have been closed except for the one in Moscow. This consulate is the ONLY location where Russian citizens can obtain tourist or business visas to come to the United States.
One of my friends who works at the Consulate explained that the gutting of the staff at the Embassy created an impossibly heavy workload, so the average wait time for a Russian citizen to get an American Visa is estimated to run up to six months.
By contrast, if the same Russian applies for an American Visa in a neighboring country like Latvia, the wait time can be as little as one day.
However with the exception of Ukraine, a Russian pretty much needs a Visa for the EU, and a trip to an EU member nation to do the visa process in any close sense. And Russia is huge – so citizens in the far East in Vladivostok have to travel 9 hours by plane to Moscow to undergo a six-month wait Visa process.
The Russian-Americans are similarly being oppressed by the inconveniences cause by Moscow’s closing of the Russian consulates in the United States as Russia responds tit-for-tat to the American and European sanctions that are built of fantastic allegations anyway, most notably the unsubstantiated allegation that the Russian government is in some way responsible for the attempted murder on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.
Further, the Russophobia being pumped out by the American media is beginning to take a toll on American citizens who emigrated from Russia in hopes of pursuing the American dream for themselves.
This is bigotry, and unfair discrimination just as much as it is for any ethnic or race-based group in the United States.
The Russian-American Congress sent their letter to express their disappointment and concern to President Trump because the craziness in terms of all this has impacted their lives in many ways.
Here in Russia the disappointment is echoed by people like those at Kaspersky Labs, which has been singled out for extremely biased and unfair treatment to score political points.
Eugene Kaspersky has filed a lawsuit in regards to this matter against the US Department of Homeland Security. His points are completely logical and yet he is ignored the benefit of legal protections under the law as a business operator in the United States because of political expediency on the part of people like Bill Browder driving a truly insane and falsely based anti-Russia campaign.
I am a big supporter of President Trump, personally. I voted for him as many times as I could. (wink)(Once, as a Colorado resident, which I am.)
And I would vote for him again in a heartbeat. He is a superb president on every count where he has been able to do what he feels is right. And we see this expressed in the tone of his phone contacts with President Putin and his actual personal meetings with him. Through his help the US has helped Russia avert the tragedy of ISIS terrorist attacks on its own soil, something which has gained the gratitude of the Russians and most notably President Putin himself.
But in this matter of Russian-American relations I am grieved along with the Russian people in both our nations.
I am similarly saddened because the Americans who rely on their news media to be truthful to them about world events are being given a grave disservice. Rather than seeing Russia for what it wants to be – a partner and an ally – the Americans have been getting a steady diet of propaganda that only serves the interests of those people who feel threatened by Russia asserting herself as her own sovereign nation. This is simply grievous, it has gone on much too long and it should stop.
There are some in the media – both mainstream and alternate media of which The Duran considers itself a part, that have tried to point out the notion of war brewing between the US and the Russian Federation.
While anything is possible because bad actors can start wars, I personally disagree with this notion. Russia has no aspiration for war with the United States or Europe in any way.
But the Russian Federation and its leadership are understandably frustrated with being blamed for everything under the sun, and then punished for things they have no part in, a practice that has been ongoing for several years at least.
How would you feel?
In pursuing this track of scapegoating Russia as many of the political establishment in the US and Europe have succeeded in doing, the Western powers are putting themselves at grave risk of a problem later. Not a problem with war, for Russia will not attack anyone. The only way a war will start is if the West starts it; but the scapegoating behavior is scandalous and it will not be forgotten.
Also, since it is falsely based, Russia will find her own way around it and prosper. When things get difficult in the West, its leaders will be forced to eat humble pie in some way that will not be pleasant… and it will have been totally unnecessary.
The Russian-Americans, and not a few American-Russians, are still hoping for President Trump to rise above the fray and fix this mess.
The American Congress – both parties – are full of Russiaphobes and people who are so ill-informed that they actually consider Bill Browder an expert on Russian affairs. I will place my bet that as a regular guy living here I know far more accurately what the real picture is than any rich tax evader.
In this, I echo President Putin’s statement. Together with the Russian-Americans in the USA, we say this:
“Listen to us now.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.