On the beach in Russia

What is life really like on the “Other Side” of whatever barriers the Usual Suspects try to erect? My own (limited) experience in Russia, China, and the -Stans suggests it is often quite different from what our media tries to tell us. Hence it is fascinating to read first-person observations from Gilbert Doctorow, an American with extensive Russian experience who now lives in Belgium.

Here he describes his current vacation in Russia on the Gulf of Finland, not far from St. Petersburg. Read the whole thing, as they say. One part which particularly surprised me was his account of dining experiences:

"One example of the themed restaurants is an eatery several kilometers from us which has interconnected ponds in front of it from which the diners catch their own fish for the chef to prepare. Needless to say they are not fishing for catfish but for sturgeon and other prized catches.

Another restaurant just near our hotel operates under the name “Stroganoff” and is a palace for meat-eaters. The central part of the menu lists “strip loin, rib-eye”and other American beef cuts alongside the universally known filet mignon in portions of 300 to 350 grams. Most remarkably, the list of these cuts is in duplicate: one for corn fed beef at around 35 euros and another for grass fed beef at around 24 euros. To my knowledge, carnivores in Belgium are offered no such choice… "

In diet-obsessed US, one would expect the grass-fed beef to be the variety selling at a premium price. Russia is different!
Gilbert Doctorow – International relations, Russian affairs


Between 1900 and 1910, all of my grandparents emigrated from western Ukraine. Here, they spoke English (with varying degrees of accent), as well as Russian and Yidddish). They spoke of themselves as having come from Russia, not Ukraine. One grandfather was part of a men’s choir touring Western Europe; he fled to escape service in the Tsar’s army, which for Jews, was long and harsh.

The point of this remembrance is irony. Their impulse was to escape a brutal tyranny. Over the past few years, I have wondered repeatedly whether it was time to retrace my grandparents route in the opposite direction. The exploding tyranny here is painfully apparent. It seems the communist virus was repelled in Eastern Europe and Russia, only to successfully infect elites here. The trajectory is clear and were I younger and without extended family, I might have chanced it. There is much evidence of a vibrant and improving culture there.

As communism has taken hold here, it seems that a more classically western liberalism is growing in Russia. The fact that it understandably defends what is objectively their national security interests against US/NATO provocation, in no way diminishes this fact. Remember the Cuban IRBM’s in 1962? Those were in violation of our national security interests and we acted accordingly. Russia has the same right. I will soon post links to Dmitry Orlov’s “Boosty”, which gives rare glimpses of realities in the SMO and actual Russian views, eloquently and cleverly written.