Friends and readers, here is my post about the Sochi opening ceremony at Legal Insurrection.
February 14, 2014
September 24, 2013
Having recently caught the largest pike in the world, Russia’s “President” Vladimir Putin felt emboldened to write an New York Times op-ed. Either that or he ate Barack Obama for breakfast.
In that op-ed of his, Vlad the Shirtless insisted that American exceptionalism as “dangerous”. I’m sure the main reason Putin focused on American exceptionalism is because he was addressing America’s own wishy-washy elites. Still, lets not forget taht Russia has it’s own wanna-be exceptionalism issues. Check out this from The Primary Chronicles, the manuscript, compiled in 1113 in Kiev, widely recognized as the first attempt at Russian history:
Invitation to the Rus’
860-862 (6368-6370) [The four tribes who had been forced to pay tribute to the Varangians--Chuds, Slavs, Merians, and Krivichians] drove the Varangians back beyond the sea, refused to pay them further tribute, and set out to govern themselves. But there was no law among them, and tribe rose against tribe. Discord thus ensued among them, and they began to war one against the other. They said to themselves, “Let us seek a prince who may rule over us, and judge us according to custom [po nravu]“. Thus they went overseas to the Varangians, to the Rus. These particular Varangians were known as Rus’, just as some are called Swedes, and others Normans and Angles, and still others Gotlanders, for they were thus named. The Chuds, the Slavs, the Krivichians and the Ves then said to the Rus, “Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come reign as princes, rule over us”. Three brothers, with their kinfolk, were selected. They brought with them all the Rus’ and migrated. The oldest, Rurik, located himself in Novgorod; the second, Sineus, in Beloozero; and the third, Truvor, in Izborsk. From these Varangians, the Russian land received its name [prozvalas’ Russkaia zemlia]. Thus those who live in Novgorod are descended from the Varangian tribe, but earlier they were Slavs. Within two years, Sineus and his brother Truvor died. Rurik gathered sole authority into his own hands, parceling out cities to his own men, Polotsk to one, Rostov to another, and to another Beloozero. The Varangians in these cities are colonists, but the first settlers in Novgorod were Slavs; in Polotsk, Krivichians; in Beloozero, Ves; in Rostov, Merians; and in Murom, Muromians. Rurik had dominion over all these folk. Two of Rurik’s men [Askold and Dir] who were not of his tribe but were warriors [boyare] sought permission to go to Tsar’grad [Constantinople] with their tribe. They thus sailed down the Dnepr, and in the course of their journey they saw a small city on a hill. They asked, “Whose town is this? ” The inhabitants answered, “There were three brothers, Kii, Shchek and Khoriv, who built this burg, but they have since died. We who are their descendants dwell here and pay tribute to the Khazars [ID]“. Askold and Dir remained in this city, and after gathering together many Varangians, they established their dominion over the country of the Polianians. Rurik ruled in Novgorod. [Bold is mine, --ed.]
“Don’t thread on me” this isn’t.
I don’t think there is anything exceptional about this kind of history, and, to be fair, a republican government existed in Novgorod in the middle ages. Novgorod was eventually swallowed by Moscow, whose then Prince Ivan the Terrible went on to call himself a tzar, the name derived from Latin Cesar. After the fall of Constantinople into the hands of the Ottomans, Russians took to thinking of themselves as the third Rome. C. 1520 Russian monk Philotheus wrote: “Two Romes have fallen, but the third stands, and a fourth there will not be.” Not exactly a match for American exceptionalism, but, clearly, Russian rulers thought of themselves as very special people.
Having conquered the Republic of Novgorod in 1478, Moscovy went on to expend its empire which become the world’s largest a few centuries later, occupying half of Europe and stretching all the way to the Pacific. Russiana wasn’t exactly bringing civilization to Lithuanians or freedom to the cossacks of Zaporozhian Sich. The 19th century Russian populist socialist Alexander Herzen called his native land “prison of the peoples”.
The Bolsheviks toppled Romanovs and undermined Orthodox Christianity, but the dream of empire remained. Moscow became the sight of the Third International, a communist organization dedicated to fight:
by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State.
The 1943 Soviet national anthem proclaimed that “Great Russia had assembled the unshakable union of the free republics” (a reference to the 15 “republics” of the Soviet Union), while the Soviet coat of arms superimposed hammer and cycle over the globe. In a 1941 musical comedy “The Swineheard and the Shepard”, a young woman from Ukraine meets a young man from Georgia at an agricultural expo in Moscow. They fall in love and coyly serenade each other: “I will never forget a friend if I met him in Moscow”.
In 1939 Stalin and Hitler divided Central Europe, and after the end of World War II, Stalin created a “buffer zone” well into Germany. In 1979 The Politburo marched its troupes into Afghanistan, and a few years later Ronald Reagan referred to Russia as an “evil empire”. I remember my 90′s travel guide warning against attempting to communicate with Czechs in German. Well, just try Russian.
Anyhow, I can see how annoying it is, from Russia’s perspective, to watch the US, a reluctant Third Rome. I can see how frustrating, too, to observe Barack Obama, a bumbling fool fed on the ideology crafted somewhere in Lubyanka, and to think “We lost the Cold War — to THEM?” Putin wants to restore Russia to its former glory, which is quite a task. The US might be in decline, but so is Russia, and so is every other geo-political entity on this planet. In any event, we are in his way.
September 14, 2013
This iconic Mother Heroine is an artifact of the decade following WWII. Over 25 million Soviets died in that war, and after the Allied victory, the birth rate was stagnant. Those worker bees had to come from somewhere. In 1944 the honorary title of Mother Heroine was established by the Supreme Soviets. Mothers with 10 or more children were awarded a medal and state pensions.
In the 70′s and 80′s, when I was growing up, documentaries about such mothers were on TV from time to time. My thought was that, of course, in a country as large as ours somebody is going to have 10 kids. But in my grandma’s opinion if such mother heroines existed at all, they were alcoholics who had kids to qualify for pensions and then turned around and neglected them. No reasonable woman, she said, would have more than two in this day and age. And to many families two kids were a luxury. Mother Heroine was a target of sarcasm.
The chart above indicates that the current uptake in birth coincides with peak fertility years of those born during the modest uptake of the 1980′s. A more careful study will show that babies are most plentiful in Muslim regions, and that the European part of the country is practically barren.
Much had been said about the post-Soviet demographic collapse, but it was a comparable plunge in the 1960′s that took the country to low fertility levels. At some point in the late 1950′s Russia’s subjects decided to stop bringing new life into this world (I’m sure it can be somehow attributed to homosexual propaganda corrupting minors), and that attitude has proven to have remarkable staying power. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. This post-Soviet hot mama is infinitely more pleasant than the handsome Slavic Fraulein of the 1950′s.
As you can see, a Russian women look particularly fetching after birthing triplets. Unlike the post-war mother heroine, this girl next door does not appear to have a particularly broad neck and shoulders. I suspect the advertizes couldn’t determine what kind of arms she’s supposed to have, so they obscured them with babies. She didn’t gain too much fat in her middle, but her breasts are nothing if not appealing. The viewer can see the seam on her bra pointing right to the nipple area. Although she looks ostensibly European, an Asian chick could project themselves into this unassuming babe.
She’s less ambitious than the Stalinist prototype (three, not ten children), but less of a comrade, too. Unlike her Stalinist predecessor, she radiates no knowledge of moral certitudes. After the whole Soviet fiasco, Russians grew weary of moral certitudes — unless they get to lecture somebody in a New York Times op-ed. One can see this new incarnation of Mother Russia put her children to bed, and then brush her luscious hair and join a group of close friends for vodka and pickles. Unlike Vatolina, the ad agency that produced this poster didn’t set out to create a seminal work of art; their ambition is to be relatable to women and attractive to men. But outside of Russia their natility propaganda is laughable.
August 2, 2013
It’s one thing to be outraged by the Russian anti-gay law that was passed unanimously by Duma in June and signed by Putin the following month. The law bans “homosexual propaganda” to minors, public manifestations of gay lifestyle and voicing support for the gay community. 88% Of the “citizens” of the country whose president runs sexed-up campaign ads approve of the bill.
Although some wide-eyed Americans think that the ban means something very narrow, like no more gay pride parades, we can realistically expect the law to be applied in whatever manner pleases the Kremlin. All the while Nazi homophobes across the Russian Federation (and I mean Nazi homophobes*) feel emboldened. In the wake of the law’s passing violence against sexual minorities skyrocketed.
Politics of Russian homophobia work in not so mysterious ways. The increasingly unpopular Putin needs a scapegoat which he found in the increasingly unpopular sexual minorities (some attribute populist homophobia to weak masculinity). Russia is dying, its birthrate is low, for which desperate elected officials blame homosexuals, which makes perfect sense considering that gays comprise about 1% of the total population. Dear friends, “homosexual propaganda” must be the reason Russian women abort more than a million children each year (if we believe the likely conservative official number). Westerners find it hard to imagine, but this one million figure represents a sharp drop from the Soviet-era highs. And, oh, in the Soviet times homosexuality was criminalized.
Foreigners and their decadent news organizations are subjects to the same penalties as Russian nationals plus deportation. A group of Dutch filmmakers arrested for interviewing a 17-year-old homosexual about his view of gay rights in Russia. But did you hear about the 50K sex trafficking victims in Moscow? (For some reason it feels very satisfying to sprinkle my post with statistics in re Russian moral degeneration). Many of said prostitutes are orphans Americans can no longer adopt. I’m sure this whole mess has something to do with the said group of Dutch filmmakers.
With the 2014 winter Olympics coming up, Putin found himself in a sensitive situation. Exception will be made for the Sochi games (or not). I look forward to watching Putin maneuver between whipping up homophobia at home and needing to attract the Olympians and the spectators from abroad. A side drama: the IOC having to coddle every petty dictator (and Putin is by no means a petty dictator) on one hand and appease the Western Left on the other. Wow! Pass the popcorn.
The reaction of the Western “LGBT” community was predictably inane. Egged on by the likes of the eternal teenager Dan Savage, they came up with a novel idea — boycott something. Something like vodka because vodka is a Russian word, you know. And so gay bars across the US and Canada made a public spectacle of “dumping Stoli”. Curious: Did they purchase some extra bottles in order to “dump” them?
And why Stoli? Stolichnaya sold in Russia is a government-owned. But Stolichnaya sold elsewhere is manufactured by a privately owned international corporation with only tenuous connections to Russia. The company sponsors gay pride events worldwide, and, I’m tempted to think, it’s the overexposure that landed the vodka on community organizer crap-list. The brand is so ubiquitous, it was the first thing to pop into activists’ minds.
Even if Stoli was made in Russia, private enterprise is not what’s wrong with the country. Heritage Foundation puts Russia at number 139 of its 2013 Index of Economic Freedom worldwide. It’s notoriously corrupt, the bureaucracy is vast, the laws are applied capriciously, capitol is hard to come by. Only 22% of gross domestic product of Russian Federation is generated by small and medium size businesses. Half of the country’s economy is the government, with natural resources comprising 17% of the GDP. Former Russian sub-president Dmitry Medvedev correctly saw the public sector dominance as a problem. (And how pathetic it is that 20-some years after the Soviet collapse there isn’t even a Russian consumer product for the West to boycott?)
In their latest video, Russian punk collective Pussy Riot attacked Russian Federation’s omnipresent oil and gas industries likening Russian Federation to Iran and UAE. Most compatriots don’t share Pussy Riot’s views, of course. They think of the state as a benevolent provider and redistributor. According to a December 2012 poll, nearly every other Russian dreams of working for Gazprom, a major state-owned natural resources company. The number of aspiring Gazprom employees rose by more than 10% over three years.
This is not going to end well. Technological advances made drilling possible just about anywhere — in North Dakota, Australia, Israel — you name it. The prices of fossil fuels are declining, and Russian economy is about to go in a tailspin. This is the reason for rising opposition, and for the need to scapegoat gays and lesbians. Empowering the individual to take care of his economic destiny is one way of addressing Russia’s problems. Empowering the individual will also create a more tolerant society. But I’m not holding my breath.
For the record: Gay Russian Neo-Nazis exist. Everything Neo-Nazi exists in Russia.
June 20, 2013
I know progress when I see it. With our Progressive President appointing a hard core anti-Semite to UN ambassadorship, the US has caught up with the rest of the world. Meanwhile, I’m getting referrals for “Samantha Power negligee“.
I hear that the young lady described in media reports as Michael Jackson’s “daughter” attempted suicide a few weeks ago. At some point the unfortunate minor lived in the sprawling mansion of the late pop sensation; she bears his surname and she has some sort of claim to his wealth. But we all know that she is not nor has ever been Michael Jackson’s daughter. The drug-addled celebrity arranged some sort of guardianship of several children, but merely because certain individuals have custody of minors doesn’t make them a mommy or a daddy (or even parent 1 and parent 2).
The most exiting current gossip item is Mooochelle feeling upstaged by the Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan. The Western media has been fawning over the “glamorous”, “elegant” and “dazzling” Chinese entry on the First Lady circuit to such an extent that Michelle refused to attend the recent two-day Chinese American summit in California. The better half of the international has-been claimed that she needs to be with her daughters at the end of academic year, and the Chicoms did not buy the excuse.
How bad could that little summit be? Mobama already paraded her get ups alongside the Spanish and British royalty and Carla Bruni in the latter’s fresh-faced days. Speaking of fresh-faced, unlike Bruni, Michelle grows cheeks with uncharacteristic caution. In fashion, she’s all about excess, but her plastic surgery options are pretty restrained. And speaking of cheeks, there is Putin.
What must be really intimidating about Ms. Peng is not that she is easy on the eyes or dresses smartly, but that, being a soprano, she has a real skill. How would you feel about an obviously talented counterpart if you were an affirmative action baby?
Some in the West are trying to make sense out of Ms. Peng’s talents. NY Mag, for instance, deemed her “campy” and “opera-singing”, which is a bit of wishful thinking. No doubt Peng is perfectly capable of executing an aria, but she isn’t known for performing Puccini; her domain is state-sponsored cheesiness. I bet my pinkie the commie diva will get a homage from many faithful impersonators in the upcoming Pride parades, but no, she herself is not camp, camp being an ironic and gay Western aesthetic. The patriotic songs she hums mandate sincerity, and I don’t sens an iota of ironic detachment in any of her acts. Peng Liyuan was deemed earnest enough to be trusted to perform for the troops in the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre. Does the Chinese public find any irony in the First Lady’s musical numbers? Consider the following reaction of a [presumably] Chinese American listener:
I asked the Cut’s resident Chinese speaker Diana Tsui to translate. “It’s just about how great China is,” she said after listening to the first one. “I’m in your heart, you’re in my heart. Sons and daughters of China.” I could watch this stuff all day long.
Curious reaction. Six minutes of this video nearly triggered gag reflex in this blogger:
In New York the boa trimming Peng’s dress would be camp. Scary thing is, Peng is absolutely sincere about that feather boa. And the boa is not the scariest thing about the lady.
Everything about this video is dehumanizing. There are the dancers whose faces never merit a close up and who move in near-perfect synchronicity, but without any passion (Soviet ballerinas, trained in Romantic tradition, combined technical excellence with passion, and the ones I know scorn Chinese ballet. It’s mere acrobatics, they say.) I particularly deplore the sight of the audiences that rises on Peng’s cue and sings along. (And to think that such obedience can be mastered without sophisticated surveillance technology — no wonder Ms. O is jealous!) Camp is not my cup of tea, and I’m a bit tired of irony in general, but I’ll take camp over Tiananmen pop any time.
As far as offstage fashion is concerned, Peng didn’t seem to do any horrible errors, which is really all we ask from political women. No lingerie, please, and for God’s sake, no dadaism. Yeah, she wore a Pierrot a few times, but her outbreaks of poor taste are confined to stage.
Compare it to Moochelle in her pre-celluloid days. Yep, this is our down-to-Earth First Lady prior to the face jobs:
The wife of the Leader of the Free World should feel intimidated by a Chicom propaganda tool, no matter how pretty or polished. Not if she, FLOTUS, is proud of what her country stands — or once stood — for. If anything she should feel sorry for somebody like Peng, a woman gifted with a great singing voice who wastes her talents. An individual brought up in the free world has to convince himself that Peng’s art is some sort of elaborate parody in order to even begin to enjoy it.
February 5, 2013
The R’n'B band is to play some sort of a part in Russian state’s ongoing effort to convince ordinary men and women to be fruitful and multiply:
The story comes from the Moscow Times, which writes: “The stylish trio of Boyz II Men, the most successful R&B group of all time, is coming to Moscow on Feb 6. The group will perform a selection of their classic and new romantic ballads, hopefully giving Russian men some inspiration ahead of St. Valentine’s Day.” The Times insists that the band will be lending their “powerful voices” to Putin’s fertility campaign. Whether or not the Russian kingpin personally got on the phone, tracked down their agent and demanded that they “do the show right here” is pure speculation on the newspaper’s part. It’s a little hard to believe … but it’s also not impossible to imagine. [My guess is Boyz have no clue about Europe's demographic woes. Russian newspapers, however, are prone to overstatements. -- ed.]
For Putin has declared war on empty cots with classic Putin bravado. He’s often insisted that having lots of babies is key to Russia’s internal security, to Russia becoming more “influential” on the world state. Why have a great democracy or a flourishing economy when you can simply outnumber everyone else? Putin puts the desirable figure at three babies per household and, in 2007, one province helped things along by declaring a Day of Conception. The idea was that if Russians got the day off work then they might stay at home, put on some Boyz II Men, close the curtains and help bring back the good old days of Soviet hegemony. Women who gave birth 9 months later could win a refrigerator.
Which makes sense. I can’t think of another top 40 band that’s all soft light and kitchen counters.
If you, my reader, are a snob like me, you probably spend countless Friday nights complaining about the current sorry state of American popular music. I hope you realize that much of today’s American pop sells very well abroad, and that even if Americans suddenly abandoned their music idols, many performers would do just fine. Truth be told, American pop in decline does not sound that bad compare to what musicians around the world have to offer.
Russia one horrid example of horrid taste in horrid popular music. The country’s President is a noted connoisseur of “popsa” (Russian slang for particularly annoying tunes). Remember his inspirationally sexed-up 2012 Presidential campaign? Well, in 2007/2008 it was Putin copying Obama, not the other way around. Shortly after Obama girl went viral, Putin lent his likeness to a video with two babes who singing ditties about him:
A few years ago I went on a facebook-like Russian site where I found some old friends and made a few new ones. Most of them were Russian-speaking Ukrainian women, about my age, college educated, either gainfully employed or with a husband providing for the family, and with a kid or two. Often times our conversation turned to the little ones; specifically they wanted to know how much does the United States government pay to have a baby. I got the impression that their sole reason for striking a conversation with an American woman was to pose that particular question.
Turns out, all Ukrainian women are promised a one-time stipend for each child — “promised” is the operative word here because in their experience the money doesn’t always materialize. They were bitter, which was understandable. I’m not sure how much sense it makes for the state to beguile its citizens short term. Our government is also making promises on which it’s not going to deliver (think Social Security), but those are long term promises. By the time the the populace realizes that its been had, the politicians who designed the system are long dead and buried. Anyhow, Russia touts fertility measures similar to Ukraine’s, with second baby currently worth 9K. Russian women find it equally easy to discuss such prizes.
Now, I’m all for people being practical about breeding. People other than myself that is (I got pregnant with my first while on our honeymoon). It’s just that on the surface of it, at least, the women in Russia and Ukraine do not appear to be practical enough. I had to explained that in the US children are seen mainly as expenses. It costs upwards of a half a mil to raise a child, which dwarfs any tax write off a middle class American family can possibly take advantage of. Kitchen appliances are a sorry compensation when you have another mouth to feed.
What is interesting is when middle class American women think “how can I afford it”, their Russian speaking counterparts think “who pays better”. That’s the difference between freedom and personal responsibility on the one hand and slavery and hand outs on the other. Arguably, American fertility subsidies are obscured through our tax code. We still have subsidies (as we should as long as the government provides for retirement), they are just not obvious. Yet I don’t know a single family that would calculate exemptions prior to trying to conceive.
The fertility rate in Russia is up from under 1.2 child per woman at its 1999 low to about one and a half child for each woman of childbearing age. The rate of population decline is down, and Putin is claiming victory. I remember Russians here, in Cali, being surprised by that Russian style baby boom, and quipping that maybe it’s caused by mothers too drunk to get themselves to abortion clinics. They were not too far off. Then there is the argument that the uptake in fertility is partially caused by the increase in the number of ethnic minorities and the calls for awarding “maternal capital” to ethnic Russians only. Still, the current fertility uptake is partially caused by the women born during the 1980s mini-boom now reaching peak childbearing age. Once they age, Russia is due for another bust.
From Putin’s point of view it must be now or never. He really does need to get as many children as he can out of Russian women today because, he must realize, there is no tomorrow. The generous sums of money offered to moms at the time when state revenues are declining are really a sign of desperation. Putin bought off Russia’s middle class with petroleum money, but with development of new technologies of oil and gas extraction, the world is not willing to pay top dollar for Russia’s resources. Russian mothers might be looking for another owner.
And Putin might do better if he had a whole different population of women to work with. Russian-speaking women are just not that into large families. I personally know of five Russian-speaking women of my generation who had more than two kids, and by more than two I mean three. Two of them live in Israel (one is an ethnic Russian), one is in New Jersey, but spent several years in Israel. Another is in the Bay Area, and her third child was an accident. And, by the way, had she stayed in Belarus, the boy would had been summarily aborted, and so would had been several of his siblings. Only one lives (and has always lived) in Ukraine, but she was always a bit odd. Not that there is anything wrong with being odd.
It’s not just that tough economic times drove families to postpone parenting. Russians have an easy attitude about divorce and out-of-wedlock birth. A sizable number of Russian women would rather stay single than marry Russian bachelors. Even those who marry and stay married simply don’t want large families. One or two kids were a norm for generations, and it’s hard to imagine that this norm can change in the near future.
January 7, 2013
Kidding. I’m sure everyone heard about Gerard Depardieu’s decision to renounce his French citizenship and move — first to Belgium, and now to Russia. For one, Russians offer a better tax deal:
If Mr. Depardieu chooses to take up Russian citizenship, he would potentially trade steep French income tax rates, which he said now claim 85 percent of his income, and even Belgian rates of 60 percent or higher, for Russia’s flat 13 percent income tax. The value-added tax, a sales tax on goods and services, is 18 percent in Russia compared with nearly 20 percent in France, while Russian social security taxes are 30 percent compared with 50 percent in France.
On its way out of communism Russia, like many other former Eastern Block countries, had adopted a flat tax. And if Gospodin Gepardieu thinks that 13% is too high, no worries — few Russians pay income taxes to begin with, and the country relies heavily on its oil and gas revenue. Sure, Mihkail Khordokovsky is doing time for tax evasion, or so we are told, but given how the actor was caught admiring Putin’s foray into popular culture, I don’t think he needs to worry about such things:
If it’s the low flat tax rate that interests Depardieu, why not chose Georgia or the Czech Republic? Putin continued:
But aside from tax savings, Mr. Putin suggested that French officials were too brusque in their response to Mr. Depardieu’s complaints and that he might find that Russians simply understand him better as an artist. “Actors, musicians and artists are people with a special, delicate psychological makeup and, as we say in Russia, the artist is easily offended,” Mr. Putin said at the news conference on Dec. 20. “So I understand Mr. Depardieu’s feelings.”
I assume he understands Pussy Riot as well. Not to say that Pussy Riot is anywhere near Depardieu’s talent, but we are talking bohemian sensibility here, not talent. Then again, perhaps Putin does know something about artists, many of whom, like our former Frenchman, like dictators.
Depardieu might want to review Russian ideas about immigration. If a Russian is to renounce his citizenship, he’ll be seen as a traitor by many of his ex compatriots. Actually, in that part of the world one doesn’t need to leave the country to rise to the status of Benedict Arnold. When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, virtually any activity that involves moving from one group of people to another, like switching places of employment, was considered treasonous. Things changed in the 90s, at least for a short time, but it looks like today’s popular opinion is back to the Soviet assumptions.
After the Pussy Riot “trial” last year, I was looking through Russian chatrooms. The general consensus there was that the young women had it coming, and that in other countries the punishment for their performance would be even harsher. One individual opined that Pussy Riot are traitors to their motherland, and that in the US they would be put to death for [high] treason. It was a well-liked opinion. Last November Putin broadened the legal definition of treason, giving himself a green light to go after dissenters.
Regardless the Russian views on dissent and treason, the new arrival will get to keep more of his money. How will he show his gratitude? Russians don’t have the tradition of charitable giving akin to the one we have in America. When we arrived to the US, we were moved to see people donating their money, time and possessions to help us settle in the new country. It was all new to us. Perhaps Gerard Depardieu, a Westerner, knows how charity is done.
The Russian population of parent-less children is now greater than it was at the end of World War 2. There are children starving in Russian orphanages, and now, because Putin is playing politics with their lives, they can not be adopted by American families. Surely an actor known for creating humane characters can not remain indifferent. He should contribute to an overhaul of the Russian orphanage system and perhaps adopt a kid or two.