In search of Russia

September 15, 2009

President Dmitry Medvedev’s conference on the modern state and global security this week was an object lesson in efficiency and organisation. Four hours north east of Moscow in the ancient city of Yaroslavl, security was tight but not overbearing, hundreds of Moscow and Saint Petersburg students guided guests to their hotels and waited tables with exquisite fish, caviar, pastries, vegetables and fruit in a marquee beside the conference hall.

Russia was showing the face of a modern state with a global role.

Escaping the speeches for a view of Yaroslavl’s medieval Kremlin and onion-domed churches and monasteries, a few of us set off down the road from the conference centre in search of a taxi to drive us into town. The modern conference grounds quickly gave way to small wooden kiosks selling ‘products’, ‘vegetables’ – no brand names here.

No taxi either but there was a kiosk selling water melons, run by an Azeri eager to earn some extra cash.

His Lada stank of petrol and exhaust fumes belched inside the car every time it pulled away from every junction. He told us police sometimes stopped him because of his dark colouring – in this part of northern Russia blonde is the order of the day. And he complained that his invalid allowance – he had kidney problems – barely covered the cost of his medicine.

Bumping into the centre of Yaroslavl, the Volga stretched before us, we saw a harbour packed with millionaire’s boats. Out of the car and walking through the ancient gates of the Kremlin, we were greeted by an old woman sitting on a wooden chair.

Can the real Russia please step forward?

3 comments

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What you describe IS the real Russia – divers, colorful and full of nice and ugly surprises. Just enjoy!

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive

Dear Janet,
I have gone through this article with some interests.
Your heading of Russia was really interesting.But you have not covered many parts of Moscow or to some other towns.
Once Russia became separated from Soviet Union,not much development news on science,space research,agriculture,trade and commerce,literature,and life and style from any known,reliable sources.
After reading,writing,some interactions with Russia visitors,students and from trade representatives,,i firmly believed that, the existing media networks are not giving much interests on !A Real Life In Russia!
For this doubt,being a journalist ,you and your co-workers can answer to my questions with logical inputs.
Beautiful country,historical places,a famous university, notable contributions on Space Technology and timely help to some undeveloped countries.
I thought that, once Russia came out Communism set up,the world will get more brighter notes from Russia in all fields.
But still,some areas of knowing and sharing with rest of the world are missing.
As on today,Russia is well placed in energy sectors,tourism and very friendly with more countries.
Thanks for their day today life in a particular days,and a particular hour.
Still, Russia is a super power.Many interesting things will come out sooner or later to us.

Russia is a paradox. On one hand there is democracy but no real opposition to Putins iron hand. A country of geniuses led by thugs. The U.S., China, Britain, Germany, France, Japan and Italy all have larger economies. Not exactly a ‘superpower’ in my book. Russia is a thug-ocracy that sells WMD’s to states like….Iran, N. Korea, etc. The Russian government is an embarrasment to its people. With Putin as the number one thug. There are people in the West who have not forgotten Litvenenko. Putin will pay.

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive