During my visit, Russians were thinking about America a lot, which was a kind of compliment, but in the way of a spurned lover who keeps sending angry texts long after the breakup.That's how things seem to me, anyway. Many Russians feel that they somehow lost the Cold War, and the humiliation of defeat almost always seems to create a depressed mood. The crazy ups and downs of both politics and the economy in Russia since 1990 haven't helped. All of this pressure creates a desire to lash out at something, or in some other way to change the situation and make Russia a winner again. Putin and his circle have manipulated this feeling, of course, but they are also captive to it. They want somehow to restore Russian greatness, but have only vague notions of what that might mean, beyond standing up to the U.S. in whatever way they can.
“Tell her how well we all live, how much better than in Europe and how wonderful Crimea is now,” hissed a woman in a skintight dress to someone I was interviewing. She was referring to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed last year. That of course, was the other big change I encountered.
Inside Russia, Mr. Putin’s actions in Crimea have broken friendships and split families, leaving society as divided as I have ever seen it. Politics, once everyone’s obsession, now seems like a distant land no one visits. Those who do, pay a price. Mr. Gudkov said he felt like “a Jew in Hitler’s Germany” when he opposed the Crimea annexation.
The move also caused the biggest break in relations with the West since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“It’s like a divorce,” said Keith Darden, a political-science professor at American University. “They are saying: ‘the relationship we had is over. We’ve had enough of your efforts to change us. We’re doing our own thing now.’ ”
He added, “But they don’t know what their own thing is.”
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Anti-Americanism in Russia
Sabrina Tabernise has an interesting view of rising anti-Americanism in Russia: