To be honest, I did not know how to react to this drunk Frenchman. For about ten seconds he showed me his middle finger and shouted: “fuck Putin”, “fuck Putin”.
Russia and its heroic glory are haunting you wherever you go. For this, you do not even need to wear a fur hat or play a balalaika.
It happened in unknown European bar, where one quiet evening I set my gin and soda. Some guy at the counter asked me where I came from, and when I told him truth, he immediately started shouting political slogans. Basically everything was about Putin, but something was about Crimea and even about political prisoners.
The former head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin, wrote in his book that Angela Merkel doesn’t like Russians, because a Soviet soldier stole her bicycle when she was a child. Allegedly the Chancellor told him about it.
I don’t know about Angela Merkel, but that young Frenchman obviously reopened an old wound.
I asked myself, did he react like this to every Russian? Although he was lucky with this Russian that night. Another one would chose aggression to teach him manners quickly honestly reinforcing more Russian stereotypes, but me, I pondered the meaning of such strange behavior.
On one hand, I never voted for Putin, and all insults to him don’t involve me. But on the other … The Frenchman with his cries obviously violated my personal space, which is impolite even without binding to politics.
Most importantly, I could not grasp the essence of his claims to me. It didn’t fit in my head that the dude actually considered all Russians responsible for Putin’s tricks.
But this moron doesn’t even live in Russia, and heard about this country and its president mostly from news. And what is written in the Western media about Russia today?
They write about what we really are famous for these days: missiles, spies, weapons, political arrests and, of course, sinister Putin.
I, as a person who knows a lot about the news, understand how harmful they affect the fragile minds. It’s enough to not even read the news, just to glance at the headlines. Pay attention to how they are composed nowadays. The names of individual politicians or departments are replaced by the names of entire countries.
So, for example, Putin will say tomorrow that he wants to swallow a few more territories from Ukraine, they will write — Russia wants to squeeze Ukraine from Donetsk region
And if our Foreign Ministry will block another Syrian resolution in the UN, then most likely the headline will read — Russia against the peace process in Syria
Everything seems to be like that, but these headlines blur the differences between Russia, Russians, Putin and his government. But these are fundamentally different things
Why would they write: Russian authorities blocked Telegram
From this headline it would be clear that there are concrete initiators of the blockade in the country. But the title in the original edition seems to say that the whole country took and voted in a referendum for the blocking of the messenger.
And it seems to be a formality, it is clear that the word “Russia” means officials. But when the average reader is there, its hard to distinguish all these ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, ombudsmen, general secretaries and official representatives. Written in the title of Russia, it means all Russian, you never know who is who there and who responsible.
Another couple of examples:
Really the entire country of Russia and every Russian? Maybe specifically Putin, maybe specifically hackers?
At the same time, I can’t forget the Russian media, there things are even worse. Many major news of the country are built on the basis of blatant lies of Russian officials and are issued as an obvious truth.
Whole of Russia again? The gentlemen overestimate Putin, who obviously did not ask the people whom he’d better support. Who is specifically meant by the word Syria — the question is also controversial, especially in the country where many years everyone is at war against everyone. Personally, I would write:
Why Putin supports Assad in the Syrian war
After reading several such headlines a day on a regular basis, the word Russia (or any other country) in the consumer’s head begins to be perceived as a single organism. And our organism, in the international arena, only seizes Ukraine, bombs civilians in Syria, unanimously chooses Putin, poisons Skripals in London, justifies Assad from the chemical weapons and interfere into the American elections.
Thats why when you are in a bar and you see a dude from a country which you read about only horrible things, your unsettled brain wants to speak out in full. So we have a picture where a Frenchman pokes his middle fingers at a surprised Russian. I do not mind someone expressing their opinion, but before drawing conclusions about my views, it would be nice to ask about them first. Is Western democracy not working like this?
We live at a time when in every state power and society share a huge abyss. Especially, if we are talking about totalitarian countries such as Russia. As one famous journalist said, being Russian today is like being German in 1938. But even then it would be foolish to consider all Germans as Nazis.
The last thing the oppressed citizens of these states want is some fools to run up to them in Europe and accuse them of being involved in what they fight every day: insolent police, lawlessness, dumb officials, crazy patriots, gopniks (hooligans), Cossacks, religious right, propagandists and other shit.
Try to say to an American that he and Trump are synonyms now. Yes, he’d tear a shirt on himself, just to prove that he has nothing to do with his democratically elected leader. So why should all Russians be responsible for Putin?
I definitely don’t want to be responsible for the diagnosis of my president, especially when I drink an alcoholic hash on a legitimate vacation. Drunk Frenchman annoyed me with his ignorance so badly, I really thought about punching him. But for a minute I introduced what would be the headline in local news portals after:
Russian beat the Frenchman for insulting Putin
No, thanks. And no one would understand that this moron had asked for it, and this time Putin has nothing to do with it. Besides, violence is not my method at all. The problem was solved withs friends of this Frenchman who were around. I went up to one of them and hissed with a fretful Russian accent: “Iz yourr frrehnd rreally luking for trrahbelz?”
It looks like no one planned to have a troubles with a Russian at a bar and the dude quickly pulled his raging buddy from me.
He even reminded him of videos on YouTube with tough Russian fights. This is also a good information weapon, let them believe that we are all born UFC fighters.
However, the stereotypes are so terrible that they can touch anyone, no matter who your president is and how your state has distinguished itself.
So my German friend once told me that two Israeli soldiers had grabbed him and his friend in Thailand and demanded an apology for the Holocaust. Even my grandmother, who survived in Nazi concentration camp, would not have thought of such a thing.
Another friend of mine drove in a taxi from the airport of a British curator. When the Uber driver found out that the curator was an Englishman, he demanded from him, by the hand of Teresa May, that Russia never poisoned Skripals.
He decided that all the Englishmen are responsible for the actions of the British Prime Minister and, moreover, have the opportunity to send her messages from Russian taxi drivers. Funny and sad…
The information war differs little from the typical war. Propaganda in the media, like carpet bombing, does not strike the enemy exactly, but destroys everyone in a row indiscriminately. Except the radius of damage here is much wider, and the consequences are more unpredictable.