I asked my “Consider…
I asked my “Considerettes” corespondent in Russia what the word on the “Muscovite street” was about the Ukrainian election situation. Here’s his response, with a note about how the news is being reported there and insight into the Russian political mindset in general.

The Russian reaction to the Ukrainian election is complicated.

This election stinks with the same odor as the recent Chechen ‘election’. No one in Russia is fooled by this but their attitude is markedly different than one might expect. If you recall, just a few months ago was a very under-reported Russian presidential election. Putin won without a fight.

Russians idealize Putin to a degree that would be very uncomfortable to Westerners. When it comes to freedom of expression issues he is a tyrant, but in bread and butter issues he is a savior. After the fall of the Soviet Union things got desperate quickly. Hyperinflation turned the life-savings of a whole generation into pennies. No one living today in the West (not even Westerners living in Russia today) will ever appreciate the psychological effect this had on the society. To make matters much worse, those coming into their pension that they had been promised all their back-breaking lives got little more than $20 a month to live on (and it’s not much better than that even today). Now that real economic change for the better is being felt almost nationwide, all other issues pale by comparison. No one objects to the lack of freedom of the press; Not a ripple of disturbance anywhere. “Show me da money”, is the only relevant mantra.

I read a story in the (English) newspaper in Moscow about a Ukrainian prostitute working in Moscow. She came from Ukraine to Russia to take advantage of the new economic prosperity that she heard about. And unlike some others who migrate for financial reasons, she harbored no illusions about what she would have to do to get her piece of the pie. She was a prostitute in Ukraine before she even came to Russia. Her complaint was that the ‘customers’ in Ukraine were so poor that it made prostitution a bad living. So she came to where her practice would pay off. She credits Putin for the improvements and idolizes him as much as the Russians do.

It is true that Ukraine has been run by thugs for the past several years. Corruption rate there (according to Transparency International) is one of the worst in the world. The thought of some real prosperity coming to Ukraine as it has come to Russia is a tantalizing thought. This explains the showing, to whatever percentage, for the current Ukraine pro-Russian president.

I heard on the BBC that the several thousand election inspectors who witnessed the election process are unanimous in their opinion that there were serious-to-fatal flaws in the electoral process rendering it a political ‘false-positive’ outcome for the president. This news is not as aggressively reported in Russia. The Russian people despise these protests currently taking place in the cities of Ukraine. As always, Russians fear the West encroaching on their borders. If Ukraine had a Western loving president that would be a real threat to Russia. Xenophobia is not cured in one (nor two) generations. There are 1000 years of fear, loathing, and sometimes both for the West. The fact that we’re on the same side now won’t be discovered at any level of depth anytime soon. Also keep in mind the recent pro-Western president elected in Georgia. That did not go down too well in Russia. The West is fine as long as they stay in the west!

* Since ethics and the various ‘fringe’ freedoms we enjoy in the West are NOT seen as essential;
* Since a pro-Western Ukrainian administration IS seen as a threat (They don’t want to see another Georgia);
* Since the economic benefits that Putin has brought to Russia COULD spread to Ukraine;
all other reasoning disappears into insignificance for Russians.

I’ve seen it before so I don’t care to see it again. If you tried to debate with the average Russian about this you would hear the most righteous defense of the Ukrainian election and how it was administered. If you protested you would be condemned for trusting your Western news sources and given a lecture of how controlled by their governments and unreliable they are.

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