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WHAT'S IT LIKE LIVING IN RUSSIA TODAY?

 
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Feb, 2003 10:39 pm
nimh, Russia will learn very quickly if and when the hostage takers learn the benefits of taking hostages in Russia. I don't think that will be the case. c.i.
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Docent P
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 09:09 am
>What Americans are enjoyed by Russians, eg. writers, movie stars,
singers, etc.

And here it would very dificult to give a clear answer about "enjoyed" persons (here you mean non-Politicians if I understand correctly) because tastes differ (BTW I don't understand any modern music so I don't know any modern American musician, that's why I won't mention them). At first I can say that not many Russians are well informed about American culture and especially literature excepting very primitive detective stories, thrillers and very rarely si-fi. I have never been interested in such kinds of books so can't place any name. As about real (serious) American literature I'm afraid no Russian (and me also Embarrassed, although I've read some American military memoirs, history and political researches) is able to call any modern American writer. In other words the Russians prefer to get information about America from Russian sources and they are informed about America RATHER LESS than typical Americans about Russia. IMHO it's a result of the low living-level - if you have a lot of own problems you can't be worried somebody's else.

The second thing is about TV. If I understand correctly in America the favourite films are the same as most popular ones. Every channel cares about it's rating and will never allow itself to demonstrate bad films or programs. If we apply this rule for Russia we will see that the favourite American films are again thrillers and different kinds gangster stories staring such persons like Shwartznegger, Stallone and Van Damm (IMHO the most awful of them). These guys sometimes appear on TV screens between endless Russian criminal traffic-films and regular TV programs like "Criminal Russia", "The greatest crimes of this year", "Murders: modern chronicles" etc. But it in no way means that Russian population got totally crazy about this sh*t. These are favourite films of New Russians, militiamen and Nazy skinheads (unofficially they are even called "films for New Russians"). Our TV is totally determined by the preferences of New Russians who contain about 2-3 % of the population.

As about popular in America films like Tithanic or Harry Potter they are regularly demonstrated in the cinemas but very little part of people see them because of high prices. Personally I haven't been in the cinema since 1991. Instead I prefer to see videocassettes - one licensed cassette costs about 2 times cheaper than a ticket to the cinema, one illegal copy - about 4-5 times cheaper (although recently the authorities have closed almost all illegal video releasers). So it is almost impossible to say what American movie stars are popular among usual Russians. Personally I like all kinds of comedies, especially with Lesly Nilsen - my favourite actor. Also I adore family comedies - a pure American style, really MOVIES FOR EVERYONE - like Greeswolds, especially a fragment when they tied a dog down to the car Laughing - this is the best way to deal with a bad dog I've ever seen. Then I can remember for example Home Alone - very popular film once, I was asked several times to give the cassette for a night.

Besides American comedy actors a very popular person here is Homer Simpson - an absolutely fantastic man. I can't imagine that any other country is able to produce such movie with this brilliant American self-irony. Homer Simpson really made me appreciate America!
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 11:31 am
Name some more Americans known to Russians. Do the Russians have favorites?
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 11:54 am
ener
Such American writers as Ernest Hemingway, Irwing Shaw, Steven King, Jerome Salinger, Saul Bellow, Edgar Doctorow, Arthur Hailey and others were known in Russia (mainly, in translations), and they had a broad audience of readers.
About science and technology: every educated Soviet citizen knew such names as Thomas A. Edison, Alexander G. Bell, George Eastman, Chester F. Carlson, John Bardeen, Jonas E. Salk, James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Norbert Wiener, William H. Gates III, Robert J. Oppenheimer, Richard P. Feynman, Charles H. Mayo and others. Of course, people knew about their works and achievements as well.
American cinema was also very popular in the USSR (very few films managed to penetrate the Iron Curtain, but those that did immediately became blockbusters), and many Hollywood stars' and directors' names (like Charles S. Chaplin, Kirk Douglas, Elisabeth Taylor, Lisa Minelli, Barbara Streisand, Henry and Jane Fonda, John Wayne, Robert de Niro, Steven Spielberg, Francis F. Coppola and many others) were familiar to the Soviet public.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 02:54 pm
steissd, The names on your post are probably universal favorites of many in any country that promotes literature, the arts, and science. I am wondering what you mean by "broad" in the context of the total population of Russia. For example, what percentage of Russians are "educated?" That might provide some general idea of what kind of exposure Americans have in Russian life. It would also be interesting to find out how much Americans know about Russian literature, the arts, and science. Many Americans are aware of Sputnik, if they have lived during its hay day. I'm not sure of our younger generation. c.i.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 04:03 pm
I do not have exact statistics regarding percentage of people having different levels of education in the USSR, but I know that secondary education was mandatory. Reading attitudes of different people varied, of course; but I many say that all these names were familiar to any of the friends of mine.
Part of the names mentioned appeared in the high school textbooks. When the telephony basics were studied in the science lessons, Mr. Bell was mentioned, the DNA associated with Messrs. Watson and Crick, and polyo vaccine with Dr. Salk, etc. So, theoretically any mentally sane person was supposed to be aware of these American scientists, engineers and inventors.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 07:49 am
cicerone imposter wrote:
Russia will learn very quickly if and when the hostage takers learn the benefits of taking hostages in Russia. I don't think that will be the case.

Why not? This wasn't the first time - they've done it before, they'll do it again.

The point about protecting civilians is not so much about the Russian state still having to learn, but about it not wanting to.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 07:54 am
Re: ener
steissd wrote:
every educated Soviet citizen knew such names as Thomas A. Edison, Alexander G. Bell, George Eastman, Chester F. Carlson, John Bardeen, Jonas E. Salk, James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Norbert Wiener, William H. Gates III, Robert J. Oppenheimer, Richard P. Feynman, Charles H. Mayo and others.


Wow. I don't even know all of those, and I consider myself an educated Dutch citizen! Razz
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 07:58 am
Quote:
The point about protecting civilians is not so much about the Russian state still having to learn, but about it not wanting to.

nimh, I am reminded about the difference in different cultures' mindset. It would seem to me that Americans, in general, are lacking in this area.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 08:16 am
Docent P wrote:
As about popular in America films like Tithanic or Harry Potter they are regularly demonstrated in the cinemas but very little part of people see them because of high prices. Personally I haven't been in the cinema since 1991. Instead I prefer to see videocassettes - one licensed cassette costs about 2 times cheaper than a ticket to the cinema, one illegal copy - about 4-5 times cheaper (although recently the authorities have closed almost all illegal video releasers).


Hi Docent P, thanks again for all your informative posts. Of course you know what's gonna happen now don't you - the more questions you answer for us the more new ones we'll come up with! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Such as ... what about Russian movies? Soviet movies were of course legendary - that is to say, those classics that were adopted by movie-lovers in the West, from y'r Eisenstein to y'r Tarkovski. Around 1987-1993 there was a real upsurge in interest in Russian movies, the film festivals were flooded with mysterious, experimental, socially critical, provocative and puzzling movies from the former S-U. Of course the "upsurge" was limited to festivals and art house cinemas, so reached a limited audience (though it must be said that there are a lot more of the latter in Europe than in the US, I think - my city with its 200,000-inhabitants has 2-3 with each 2-3 screens and a big new one with 5-6 screens is coming up; a city like Berlin has some two dozen, one showing Russian films solely). I remember films by Muratova (Astenicheskij Sindrom), Proskurina, Yurij Mamin, Sokurov films always do well among reviewers, Tadzhik director Chudoynazarov had two movies that played for a long time in the cinema here.

I always assumed that in Russia itself these movies probably reached a similarly small audience, or smaller probably, considering ticket prices and the impoverished intellectual class? Did they play at all? Are there any "art-house cinamas" in Russia? What about since? Not a lot of Russian movies coming through even to the festivals anymore now ... I've read some about the crisis in the industry but I wonder what the "ordinary Russian" notices of it all. Are there any Russian movies on TV, and if so, what kind? What about films like Brat (the Russian Pulp Fiction, kinda), I heard that was popular - did it create at least a "popular" Russian movie genre, with fast-moving witty gangster movies and the like, or is it really all import people watch? And what aboutv Indian films, I read somewhere that in Central Asia they love those sing-and-dance Hindi melodramas, is that a Turkic thing or did it reach Russia too?

And is everybody still compulsively watching "The rich cry, too"? Very Happy
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Docent P
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2003 03:30 am
>I have never claimed that Mr. Putin was a strong politician; I have no idea what politician is he. But I consider him to be a strong administrator and statesman.

Being an unable politician and coward isn't the worst Putin's defect. I'd rather call the worst ones (especiallly in compare with Yeltsin) - he is young, non-alcloholic, active and unfortunately very healthy. During the Yeltsin's period we had very authoritarian, corrupted, non-democratic regime BUT thank Yeltsin he was drunk too often and therefore physically unable to work out every country's problem. That was why some parts of the power were delegated to another government structures and the Duma. Really we got 3 branches of the power. According to one my friend, a professional political expert, the Duma had about 5% of the power (today it's hard to believe but that was a fact!) and the courts - about 1%. If Yeltsin had been drunk 7-8 times more often we probably would have had almost American model of state ruling - 33% for the every power branch. The best ruler for Russia is a non-ruling one.

But the most promising thing was Yeltsin's bad health. He could die any day without leaving his "follower". What would have happened then? IMHO probably we would have had REALLY HONEST elections and therefore THE FIRST LEGITIME GOVERNMENT since 1917! That was a very probable chance for Russia to become a normal country in 1996 when Yeltsin fell into coma and was on a very edge of the death. We could have had new honest elections with Zyuganov (Commy), Lebed (patriotic general) and Yavlinsky (pro-Western liberal) as candidates. According to the polls Zyuganov had no chances to win against Yavlinsky as well as Lebed. So we would have had a more or less democratic President (at least a non-KGBist!) feeling his responsibility to the people elected him and the nation feeling their responsibility for the elected President, for the whole country at last. Yeltsin could really give us a chance to become a nation! But unfortunately this chance was lost due to this damned Dutch doctor.

That was why these stinking KGBists (GaBno as we call them in Russia) were so aware to change Yeltsin by a healthy person. Yeltsin managed to be resisting for 3 years since 1996 to 1999 but then agreed to resign. Putin (non-drinking skiers) was the worst choice. Putin is a Russian Fidel Castro - his presidency means more several decades of the Communist stagnacy.

I'm sure I won't outlive Putin. These scums can live two times longer than usual persons. During Yeltsin's era I had some hope, now I don't. It's very sad Sad .
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>I personally don't see how killing a comparatively staggering number of the civilian hostages does anything to deter terrorists. On the contrary. The terrorists could well argue that this hostage-taking was in fact a successful one, one to inspire a follow-up, because it cost so many lives.

Yes I agree. May be particularly Mr. Steissd is right - Putin perfectly demonstrated that it is not more usefull to take Russian citizens in hostage than to take in hostage Kurds in Iraq or Jewishes in Nazy Germany. Anyway the Chechen Resistance Movement doesn't practice such actions since Budennovsk. But Putin wasn't the first one - Yeltsin decided to kill hostages in Budennovsk, claimed all hostages in Pervomaysky as terrorists' aiders, not considering some lower-scale cases - nevertheless such action has been repeated again. The problem is that Movsar Baraev wasn't a educated man, he didn't use to read papers very much, when he was asked who did he wish to talk with he wasn't even able to call any Russian high-ranking official's name. How many other such uneducated persons who has nothing common with the Resistance Movement are still hiding in Chechen forests? The danger from them hasn't been reduced. All these Yeltsin's and Putin's signs never hit the target.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2003 09:24 am
Docent, you appear to be open in your comments about the Russian leadership. Do you fear getting in trouble? Is free speech now a part of your society?
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2003 09:42 am
As far as I am familiar with the online editions of the Russian media, the freedom of speech flourishes in the Russian Federation, and people are not being arrested for criticism toward authorities. They were before 1905 and in 1918-91, but not now.
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Docent P
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2003 03:51 am
"Sex, violance and terrorism must be forbidden" -
... - V. Putin.

>Name some more Americans known to Russians. Do the Russians have favorites?

Mr. Steissd made an excellent view. Although I didn't try to remember any dead Americans. Some of American classic writers were widely published by the Soviets due to their leftist views. There were Herbert Wales, Theodor Driser, Jack London and Ernest Hamingway. The only exception - widely published American non-leftist writer - was Mark Twen, really brilliant and very famous in Russia writer, I don't know why he wasn't prohibited.
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> ... what about Russian movies?

Now the Russian cinema is divided into 2 mainstreams: government sponsored official moviemakers - so called the Union of Cinematographists, and a couple of really talented producers who can still work alone.

As you can guess the first part of producers make a lot of "patriotic", talentless, expensive slopwork. For instance - Nikita Mikhalkov's (the chied of the Union, his father is famous as the author of the three versions of Russian anthem - Stalin's, Brezhnev's and Putin's updates - with the same music) movie Siberian Barber. It was a super-expensive project (with a probable cost about several hundreds of millions $ although the real number will never be published) sponsored by the government and intended to bring to the Americans ideas about "great Russian soul". The result was lower than any worst predictions. The film was fullfilled by stupid foreign stereotypes - vodka, caviar, matryoshka, balalayka and so on. Despite being called "the most patriotic film of the century" it was voiced in English by some American superstars which made the movie more expensive but not better (Russians don't understand American English very well Laughing ). So the native edition was voiced by Nikita Mikhalkov himself who has not a very pleasant diction. Together with a boring plot it made the movie absolutely impossible to see. I tried to do it 2 times but wasn't successfull. All efforts to return at least a little part of spent budget money totally failed. The Americans refused to buy this sh*t and were totally right of course. The only foreign countries that bought the film were Belorussia and Yugoslavia. Miloshevic once said that he had seen this movie 18 times! But of course these countries couldn't pay anything. The authorities attempted to sell the film in the internal market - but it was useless too. Most people can't afford to buy very expensive tickets. At last Mikhalkov declared: "it will be my gift to all the Russians, see it on TV free". The film was demonstrated for several times but didn't attract a lot of attention. The question who must response for the lost budget money remained unanswered.

This is a cartoon made of a screenshot from this film Smile .
http://putin.ru/fun/201.JPG
The most noticeable independent producer is Alexander Rogozhkin. He has managed to do impossible in Russia - to make movie without any national budget money. His films Especialities of the National Hunt 1,2,3 became super popular people comedies, real bestsellers despite being very cheap. Just a little detail: there were no stars in his first film, EVERY his actor was a debutant, but almost everyone of them immediately became superstar just after the films were produced, for eample such as Buldakov and Bychkov. The last Rogozhkin's film Cuckoo is a rather tragical story about two deserters from the Soviet and Finnish Armies who were saved by a Finnish woman in 1944 - a very good movie I can recommend to see if it appears in the West. Cuckoo was cancelled to be introduced to Oscar by a personal Mikhalkov order because as he said: "the Americans will not understand it" - what great specialist of the Americans' opinion Mad .

>Are there any Russian movies on TV, and if so, what kind? What about films like Brat (the Russian Pulp Fiction, kinda), I heard that was popular - did it create at least a "popular" Russian movie genre, with fast-moving witty gangster movies and the like, or is it really all import people watch?

Balabanov's Brat (brother, also close to a form of addressing among Russian gangsters: "bratan", "bratok"; many gangsters are always called "bratva") is an example of these films for New Russians - where a "good" ethnic Russian killer kills "bad" ethnic Caucasian killers (what I've already said a lot of about). The most surprising for me was the second film - Brat 2 - where Bodrov (the main hero) arrives to New York and kills American Negros expressing a lot of racict jokes in this process. I was surprising because as I know Negros has never been blaimed by the Communists, furthermore they used to be our allies in the "class struggle" - what was their guilt to Balabanov that is still a mystery for me. Brat 3 (also known as War) returns to the usual topic, there Bodrov comes in Chechnya as a soldier - guess who are main enemies now. Fortunately last summer comrade Bodrov was buried by a landslide in the mountains of Ingushetia when he had made too much pyrotechnical effects for his new "patriotic movie" Cool .

>And what aboutv Indian films,

They were popular during the Communist period until 1991. But then thankfully they have totally dissappeared from the screens.

>And is everybody still compulsively watching "The rich cry, too"?

As I've already mentioned now all foreign soap-operas are successfully replaced by endless criminal traffic movies, soap-operas for New Russians, with the main idea: "a thief is rich, a ment (militiaman) is bitchy, a wife is faithless, a Jewish is ... (some impolite word)" (in Russian it's a rhyme). Now this dirt is propaganded as "native high-quality films" that will cause the growth of patriotism. I'm not sure about the last - IMHO in this case more patriotic films are Santa-Barbara or Bewerly Hills some number. Only such dialogs from Bewerly like: "Hm? - Hmmm... - Oh? - Hm, hm - Uh! - Hm,hm,hm.." will make anyone happy that he lives outside America Smile . Soon after The Rich had cried enough they were replaced by Santa-Barbara and other American made soap-operas but in the middle 90s the era of "native traffic films" started. Now every TV top-manager regularly declares smth like: "this year we started other 30 criminal traffic films".

Recently there was a scandal when several teenagers having watched a new gangster film Brigade (demonstrated by the main state channel) organised an own gang, picked up several wartime rifles and began killing ethnic Caucausians in their town, as they explained later, to help the Militia to keep order. Before these scums were arrested they had killed two total families including several children. There were a few protests in medias to forbid this film. But just a week ago I noticed it on 3 other non-governmental channels (!) while the state channel is promising to show it's new parts in the nearest future. That's an example how our dear comrades are worried about public opinion.

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>Do you fear getting in trouble?

Sometimes I get threats and blames to my mailbox, smth like: "you will be the first pig we'll kill when we get to the power" (once I even had to change my e-mail) but I am not worried too much. Anyway I have already expressed enough to be checked by the FSB ages ago (a good old joke: a guard at a prison-camp calls: "Ivanov" - "I am" - "Petrov" - "I am" - "Sidorov"... "Sidorov!" ... "Sidorov!!!" - "I am" - "Sidorov, you should have been silent earlier"). Really I don't think I may have problems because of my postings to Internet - I can't imagine how will the FSB outwork such giant amount of information that is transferred through the nets everyday.

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>the freedom of speech flourishes in the Russian Federation, and people are not being arrested for criticism toward authorities. They were before 1905 and in 1918-91, but not now.

As I remember there was nobody officially arrested for criticism in 1918-1991 also but it didn't mean that we had the liberty of speech in these years. Now the most famous reporters imprisoned for their bad words about the authorities are: Babitsky (Radio Liberty, sentenced but paroled soon), Titov (old NTV, still in prison), Pas'ko (Krasnaya Zvezda, had spent 4 years in a camp before being paroled). If we say about arrested for a couple of days but not transffered to the court - it happened with almost every independent reporter working at politically unpleasant subjects (the Chechen War for example but not only). For example once the FSB arrested and deported a whole group of French TV reporters when they attemted to shoot the building in Ryazan' that allegedly was going to be blown up in 1999. But generally speaking there are not too many such cases - rather more commonly a journalist is found with a bullet in his head off his home. The most famous example is Kholodov - he was blown up by Septznaz officers for his bad words toward Defence Minister.
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At last some humor: a famous observer Parfyonov was fired this weekend for his jokes about Dobby and Putin Laughing . This is Parfyonov's photo:
http://grani.ru/images/dob.jpg
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2003 06:40 am
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2003 08:43 am
Talk about the workings of the "Russian Mafia". We are told they are very powerful...very dangerous.
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Sugar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Feb, 2003 08:44 am
I saw this thread yesterday and read it with great interest, just for my own educational purposes as I really know very little about Russia. I came by this article this morning and thought it might be of some interest:

http://english.pravda.ru/main/2003/02/13/43376.html
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Feb, 2003 01:09 pm
Docent, Do you know about the farm boy that went to St Petersburg when he was 11 years old, and started his schooling from first grade? He eventually became the superintendent of schools in St Petersburg with a PhD. Was that Pushkin? c.i.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Feb, 2003 01:43 pm
I am not DocentP, but I may assure you that this was not Pushkin. The latter one belonged to the noblesse family, and he got a perfect education in the appropriate timing. And he has never been a governmental official.
The story resembles a slightly distorted biography of Lomonosov, the Russian natural scientist and poet, a man with encyclopedic erudition. He was born in the farmer's family, and he started his formal education very late, at age of 20 (long before having went to studies he became literate by self-learning, and he read much). In order to be accepted to the educational institution he had to pretend being a heir of the noblesse family. But later he proceeded to the post of Executive Secretary of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. And he was one of the founding fathers of the Moscow University.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Feb, 2003 02:31 pm
I get the feeling that being a poet in Russia is a badge of honor.
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