всем привет! Hello(everyone)!
One of the key factors in learning a new skill is enthusiasm. The more enthusiastic you are the more quickly you learn. Therefore, to keep your enthusiasm for learning Russian at a high level it is useful (sometimes) to step away from learning grammar and vocabulary and make things fun.
Here we'll take a short break from what I call the hard language skills to enjoy some humour about Russia. And through these you'll learn about what has been going on in Russia in recent times and perhaps what is likely to happen in the future.
First, here's what some people regard as the greatest comedy anecdote ever. It happens to be about Russia and does an extremely good job of explaining what Russia was like after the collapse of the Soviet Union and before Putin.
Here's Bert Kreischer:
(If anyone fluent in Russian would translate this for a more general Golos audience I'd be fascinated to see whether the humour crosses over)
So what does this tell us?
Mainly, that in the 90s, Russia was a hive of corruption and lawlessness and things were largely run by the mafia. But this poses another question. How did Russia find itself in such a bad situation?
To that question there are both long and short answers.
Here's the short answer.
Sadly you'll also need the long answer to fully understand how things got so bad. However, whilst I have an opinion, there seems to be no full consensus on what the long answer is, so we'll deal with it in detail in another post. Suffice it to say that during Yeltsin's reign the Oligarchs were allowed to come to power. This caused problems for ordinary Russians.
For the final part, for reasons of clarity, I'm going to present my personal 'take' on Russia, and her future.
In the west the Oligarchs are generally seen as self interested businessmen who rapidly accumulated their wealth after the fall of the Soviet Union. I believe this perspective falls short of disclosing their full objective, which was to balkanize and ultimately destroy Russia whilst making themselves as wealthy as possible. Crucially, they undertook with the encouragement and support of western elites.
And then came Putin. To cut a very long story short, Putin foiled the west's and the Oligarch's plans for the disintegration of Russia. Here he is making an example of the billionaire Oleg Deripaska
As the man says, 'Classic Putin'.
This aggressive approach to corrupt oligarchs, coupled with determination to strengthen and unify Russia, is why Putin is disliked and feared by the western establishment. Indeed if you know what to look for it seems obvious that he is setting in motion the means for Russia to fully decouple from the 'Washington consensus' or, as I prefer to term it, 'Dollar hegemony'. This will likely take decades to complete.
Once this, and the west's desperation to stop this happening are understood, clips like the following take on a deeper level of irony.
(N.B. the gentleman on the right of Lavrov. Can anyone confirm whether he is Vladislav Surkov? A man who will be mentioned in a future lesson.)
Heads of state rarely joke on camera about bribing one another. Whilst it is hard to tell precisely what Putin is implying, Kerry's discomfort is clear.