Dec 182007

Here’s a BBC article about “Russia’s deep suspicions of the west“.

The author, Rupert Wingfield Hayes, seemed to find that the Cyrillic highway signs made Russia unfriendly for foreign tourists. I’m not quite sure what he expects. If I ever got to do the bicycle tour in Russia that I’d like to do, I really wouldn’t care to have English language signs as a crutch. If I want to read highway signs in English, I can do that at home. I don’t need foreign travel for that.

He also makes some other points that make it sound like Russia still is as inward-looking as it was before the time of Peter the Great, or at least that it is turning back to those days. He talks about the hostility to foreign investment and the shutting down of the British Council centres in Russia.

I can’t say I like this hostility. Sometimes on weekend evenings I watch the standup comedians on RTR Planeta. I can understand hardly anything of what they’re saying, much less “get” the jokes, but one thing I do note is that an inordinate amount of time is spent making fun of America and Americans.

Russian comedy skits about Americans? Yes. When’s the last time you saw an American comedy skit making fun of the foibles of Russians?

And as far as Russia being inward-directed, it should be noted that an ubiquitous symbol is still the Foreign Ministry building in Moscow. You’ll see it on every Mosfilm DVD and you see it as a background on the news programs. Seems to me Russia has more than itself on its mind.