Friday Reading: Week 2

Alexander Pochinok with former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The photo looks to be ca. 2001.
Alexander Pochinok with former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The photo looks to be ca. 2001.

I survived week 2 of the second half of our semester, everyone. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week. Beyond the usual Russian theme, I seem to be channeling Russian Jewry this week, as I’ve read two excellent pieces on Russian Jews’ experiences in the Soviet Union and with the Russian language.

Maxim Shrayer remembers what it was like to be the only Jewish kid in his school in Moscow. I’d like to send this to my ex-tutor at Oxford who rather brazenly (and wrongly) told me that in the socialist paradise that was the Soviet Union, there was no anti-Semitism. (Then he gave me a B for the term because of my criticism of the Soviet Union and reliance on Dmitri Volkogonov for some of my essays. But I digress.)

Alina Dizik, a Soviet Jewish emigre, debates whether to teach her newborn daughter Russian. I can’t imagine not teaching your child Russian (I’m not even Russian but I’m planning to teach my future children the language), but I do sympathize with her feelings after reading this:

In the former USSR, Jews were always reminded that we weren’t Russian and didn’t belong.

Anne Applebaum says that Russia will never be like us (“us” in this case meaning the West). Though I disagree with her solutions for handling the current crisis in Ukraine, the first part of the article is spot-on.

Putin invaded Crimea because Putin needs a war. In a time of slower growth, and with a more restive middle class, he may need some more wars, too. This time, it’s really not about us.

And finally, a photo essay (there’s text in Russian but you can just look at the pictures if you don’t speak Russian) in honor of Alexander Pochinok, a Russian economist who died in Moscow on March 16. I used to listen to his radio program a lot and I’ll certainly miss him.

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Natalie K.

Banker. I like good things like foreign languages (I speak Russian!), history, writing, reading, playing violin, and knitting. I have a fabulous blog about all of the above.