#F1 & the FIA unmasked in Sochi

“The farce is finished, I go to seek a vast perhaps” – Francois Rabelais

In honour of Ted Kravitz: Truly a maestro of the rhetorical art of understatement and irony

For a while in Sochi before the commencement of the inaugural Russian GP, Bernie Ecclestone sported those puppy dog eyes, moist and downcast – like those of a jilted lover.

He had emailed the teams on Friday and ordered them that to a man there would be “absolute silence” during the playing of the Russian National Anthem (The Telegraph).

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Actual merchandise on sale in Sochi

Further, additional treats were prepared for Bernie’s new love – Vlad – as the drivers thinking they were lining up for a minutes silence for Jules Bianchi were duped by the F1 Supremo. They dutifully ‘fell in’ to look like some ragged line of Ivans – attentive and ready to pay homage to the Sickle and Hammer as the State Anthem of the Russian Federation played out.

Yet one figure of defiance stood alone. Unbowed by convention, the leader the F1’s drivers’ championship showed his subjugated competitors how it should be done. Cap fully donned, earphones in, Lewis Hamilton was oblivious to the shuffling around him as drivers removed their headgear and nudged others to remind them of the agreed protocol.

One could be forgiven for believing Lewis was ‘sticking it’ up to the imperialistic ambitions of Putin’s recent revisionist cold war homeland, had not one well known TV presenter commented how Lewis Hamilton appeared to have been recruited by the “Russian Tourist Board” – following his nigh on hourly pronouncements “all weekend” on how exceedingly excellent a place the Russian playground of the rich – Sochi – really is.

Though if we consider Lewis’ comments from earlier this year which sought to remind us that his formative years were in Stevenage, this may explain explain his predilection to the cubic hectares of concrete, which he described as “beautiful”.

In case Lewis had not made clear his message that Russia was a place of love and peace to the watching world – skeptical of Russia’s recent empire building intentions; Lewis reassured us on the podium that this was indeed a safe place, a place of hope and joy, a place to which he would return again and again – because he lived “nearby”.

The 2586 km as the crow flies fro Monaco to Sochi can indeed be covered toute suite in a chauffeur piloted Su-34 (the Ferrari of aeroplanes… then again…..no actually…. yes), which covers the ground at an amazing 340 m/s – making the direct journey in just over 2 hours at Mach 1.8.

However, Lewis may not be aware that this direct route is not an option for his new buddy’s personal aircraft due to there being a number of ‘unfriendly’ sovereign democratic states along the flight path.

No matter and we digress.

We must return to the tale unfolding of the ‘Grand Orchestrator’ of this magnificent occasion.

Bernie’s attention to detail in preparation for the arrival of Vlad could not be faulted. The house had been cleaned, gallons of Oust had been sprayed to remove any unpleasant odour, every nook and cranny had been adorned with fresh exotic in an attempt to brighten the place – and a beautiful meal had been cooked to perfection.

Yet despite this, prior to the commencement of his grand Autumn Russian ball, the apple of Bernie’s eye was nowhere to be seen. The cloud of great blue flies buzzed and was audible to all.

The party began, and lap after lap, Bernie looked around like the lonesome groom at the altar, wondering where his love may indeed be?

Crazed thoughts swarmed through Bernie’s mind – like a deadly plague of locusts sweeping across the plains of Africa.

‘Surely Vlad wasn’t again messing around with Buk missiles or indulging in his other favourite past-time of marching 10,000 men up to the top of the hill and then straight back down again?’

Yet Bernie should not have feared.

As always, true to his word, Vlad eventually arrived – though perhaps a little late. Bernie hurried down behind the grandstand, where in private, a warm (rather too warm for some) embrace was exchanged, and all angst immediately relieved.

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With 12 of the 53 laps to go, Vlad and Bernie were seated comfortably together in a private box high above the Bolshevik masses. In close attendance was his Royal, so very much, the Highness the King of Bahrain – Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – who reclined at a respectful distance as he dutifully performed the role of chaperone with discreet attention.

A small garden gnome appeared to have been placed on a seat near the loving couple as a small boy prank.

Bernie was uneasy, this relationship was breaking new ground for him, as his usual penchant is to leave these kind of social events with 10 laps to go, but of course today, that would send out the wrong kind of signals – and be just plain rude.

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The guests in attendance were treated to a number of opportunities for a close up picture as the rather dull party meandered its way to the final bell for last orders at the bar.

Vlad heartily congratulated the players on their performance, though one or two felt rather violated as the larger than life Moscovitch rampaged, uninvited and unannounced, around their private quarters as they were dressing for the final act. Though one was secretly beside himself with excitement at the presence of his Lordship – the master of the Universe.

Formula 1 and the FIA’s abdication of their responsibilities to Bernie Ecclestone have allowed themselves to be open to ethical considerations on the question of sport and politics on more than one occasion; each time resorting to the line “We are a sport and politics is not of our concern”.

The claim that F1 can exist between these two perceptions of reality with impunity was today outed as utterly risible, particularly given that the small matter of $50m of government backing lurked behind the scenes.

Even the most innocent or naïve of political observers could be in no doubt, that the Sochi ‘show’ was singularly for the benefit of one man – and one man alone.

Righteous indignation would be wasted as a commentary on today’s proceedings; instead the complete farce of the ‘Grand Spectacular’, should be glorified and exalted as comedic beyond the finest crafted script. And in the words of John Ratzenberger…

“A farce…. or slapstick humour… does universally well”.

#ForzaJules

 

50 responses to “#F1 & the FIA unmasked in Sochi

  1. “F1 & the FIA unmasked in Sochi”

    Though the article is about Ecclestone who isn’t part of the FIA but FOM. Once the FIA (Mosley) gave Ecclestone F1’s commercial rights, which includes hosting rights, the FIA merely become a body which certifies a track as being F1 standard. All other commercial issues are for FOM to work out.

    Whoever wrote the article doesn’t seem to understand what the FIA’s responsibilities are and what FOM’s are.

    • The FIA is still the sanctioning body. So they either agree with what FOM does or they would be perfectly within their right to threaten loss of FIA world championship status, as that is something neither Bernie nor Max could buy with money. That means if FIA sanctions the Russia race, they agree with FOM’s way of running things, else they would withdraw.
      I think it is you, who doesn’t seem to understand a few things here.

      • Hosting rights are strictly the domain of FOM. They bought them in 2001 and the agreement with the FIA runs for 100 years. The FIA’s responsibility are the Technical Regulations, which has nothing to do with who or where an F1 race can be held.

        Like most things in F1 your knowledge is at a rudimentary level at best.

        • Bullcrap. Hosting rights are one thing. The status as a FIA sanctioned racing series is nothing that can be bought. If FIA retracted that status, which they could at any time, F1 would be relegated to a rich man’s private hobby series. Alas they don’t and that makes the complicit in FOM’s decision.

          • Believe what you want Zippo – but I’m right and you’re wrong. Hosting is exclusively FOM’s domain. They bought and paid for that right.

          • Are you daft? Hosting rights mean they are allowed to stage races, man. That these races are considered part of an officially recognized world championship is FIA’s right. What part of that eludes your understanding?

          • …provisions under article 1 of the FIA’s constitution is sufficient for the FIA to sanction and prevent anything the commercial rights holder proposes to enact which may in breach of the limitations defined therein.

            Allowing F1 to be used as a political tool by a race promoter or host nation is clearly identified as prohibited within the article…..

          • “Hosting rights mean they are allowed to stage races, man.”

            Yet again you clearly don’t understand what FOM’s role is. They bought the rights in 2001 to host the ‘FIA Formula One World Championship’ for 100 years from 2011. FOM is the sole body that can grant hosting rights to any national organizer in F1. It’s part of the Umbrella Agreement. You should stop before you make yourself look even more bewildered.

          • “provisions under article 1 of the FIA’s constitution”

            That only might grant the FIA the right to revoke a race. It doesn’t allow them the right to grant a race. And who exactly determines that the race is being used as a ” political tool”?

    • There is beauty and innocence in nativity… Cav, I find your comment beautiful.

      Free advice: You need to work on your post 1st salvo debating techniques…

      (Piccy pls…)

    • There is beauty and innocence in naivity… Cav, I find your comment beautiful.

      Free advice: You need to work on your post 1st salvo debating techniques…

      (Piccy pls…)

    • Because some people are not very happy about the exposure given to a totalitarian dictatorship that just illegaly annexed territory of another sovereign state, commits endless acts of war and has a human rights history to rival North Korea. That’s like giving the Olympic Games to Nazi Germany… oh wait…

        • Possibly b/c of all our many faults as a nation, we’ve not permanently annexed any territory recently. But even if you accept that argument, the fact that US not criticised doesn’t exempt Russia from scrutiny.

          And then it gets more complicated as you’re targeting multinational news orgs with many stakeholders to satisfy.

          • Actually I thought about this, and for all of US’ faults—and the list is interminable, from America’s egocentric self-calling itself America; shotgun happy indigenous population and trigger happy police; mind bogging imprisonment rates for reasons defying any common sense, anywhere; overall its being a huge, ungodly mess; oh, and I still can’t wrap my head around Hiroshima and Nagasaki; etc., etc.—last I checked Barack Obama was still accountable to voters, as was David Cameron and all the other Western naughties from recent times.

            When I watched Austin in 2012, I can’t remember Obama anywhere near the paddock, and certainly not engaging in consensual three-way activities with Bernard and the Sleeping Beauty. Well, sure, Rick Perry was there, but I guess he just had one of his moments and simply forgot were he went. I suspect he simply missed the highway exit, and was hopelessly looking for his home hidden somewhere in the pitlane.

            As for Silverstone, I think David Cameron wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near the F1 circus. The only thing approaching a cult of personality is, I guess, Damon Hill. He always seems to be wandering round the Sky TV cameras, and since he is part of the managing structure of Silverstone, I guess he is best placed for political gains. Of course, he doesn’t have elite troops and Buks stacked in the Silverstone barracks, and lately he hasn’t threatened Eastern European countries with nuclear mayhem.

            Barack Obama and David Cameron and Angela Merkel wouldn’t give a rat’s ass whether their countries F1 GPs got canceled or not. The same cannot be said of Vlad Putin or Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. And I guess that’s the whole point of F1 being subject to political abuse *under* the sleepy eyes of the FIA.

        • Or China or whatever?
          The idea was that there’s this line between F1 and sport and – whoooops! Along came the Bahrein Unif1ed campaign. Since then, it’s clear that politics and regimes and F1 are intertwined. Which is Logic as there’s so much fokking money involved.

          • ….indeed. but its a recent phenomenon since public money was sought from the new circuits. Eye watering hosting fees fees paid by regional and National Govt money changed everything…. and not so unexpectedly they want their pound of flesh….

      • so it is some other thing the issue with russia, bc all the atrocities you cite well are seemingly not that important … for any organization fia, fifa, ioc… just strikes me as wtf that some minor detail has some ppl panties in a bunch
        but what do i know.
        good to see f1 fans are getting high (selective) moral standards
        wasn`t an article about that recently here? what about bahrain, china, abu dahbi, the friendly usa

        • That was my point to Spanners a few days ago… Selective moral discourse on internal social injustices isn’t the reason for protest, in his mentioned case, homosexuality… Why single Russia out for lesser crimes in that arena than other more draconian places that host GP’s. I await his tirade on the pre-UAE podcast.

          So in that sense I agree with you…

          But the issue is, as Hippo has pointed out, the geopolitical breaches and international crimes committed ala Russia’s annexing of another country’s land (among other things), then trying to gloss it over with an overtly well choreographed, politically charged, Putin propaganda friendly GP – as per the article written above. Istanbul was kicked out for less.

          Which other places are doing that right now, that you mentioned? None that I can see, with the exception of a conflict between China and Japan about an island…

          • Just to make sure I’m understood. I’m not against hosting big events in ‘politically dubious’ places. People seem to forget that back in 1986 someone decided to host a GP in communist Hungary and while there is no proof, I think it might have had an influence that three years later it was Hungary that set off the final downfall of communism by simply opening their borders to Austria.
            The same way Hitler’s propaganda ideas fell flat in 1936 when the Herrenrasse was comprehensively beaten by Jesse Owens.

            The thing about the Russia GP was that FOM and FIA made themselves into willing tools for Putin’s propaganda. The way Putin wanted it, the way it was done. Just because Putin wanted it that way, the toad from suffolk even stayed longer than he usually does. They let Putin bend them over the nearest piece of furniture and have their ‘accounts serviced’ because Putin pays enough. As of yesterday Ecclestone and Todt are cheap whores.

          • ….and of all matters on which the UN stand together, it is the will to never see a global conflict again. The fundamental principle which has prevented this for 65 years is the absolute and categoric respect for the territorial boundaries of the global map.

            So if global conflict is your worst fear – WWIII and all its possible horrors – then despite the media’s obsession with people getting their heads chopped off and all the ills of the rest of the world – the incursion of Russia into foreign territory and its annexation… amongst the diplomatic community is of far greater concern…. and more likely to precipitate an Armageddon.

            Sorry to be such a bore so early on a Monday – however, a proper perspective on Russia helps one to understand Bernie’s Bottom Brushing Better….

            Therefore, in short – yes, what Russia has done is very very very much worse than anything else filling up the 24/7 news channel timelines.

        • …. Nuke em all I say. ‘Britannia’ can then once again rule the waves – with dignity, honour and bringing justice for all…. PLUS we can legislate against Burger chain restaurants and very very fat people too…. and being French…. and make the French farmers grow something for a change… also we can selectively allow via immigration regulations only the finest examples of femininity from the eastern bloc European countries… what else….. chop Scotland off from England and relocate Japan into the North sea to facilitate better viewing times for the F1 races in future…. and a bridge to Denmark from Norfolk.

          • again don`t get me wrong, but geopolitics are the arena of F1!?
            come on, you are getting all emotional and stuff
            our game, f1, spends immoral amounts of resources in nonsense and does nothing to adress real problems, does it own propaganda of a way of life, does not care of where the money comes from.
            but that does not seem to be a problem.
            is it that too much f1 is diluting the sense of reality, and the world that matters is the one where f1 races can be held?
            you would say that is of concern of all mankind… then ALL the other conflicts around the world should be not only russia (i personally couldn`t care less about russia, they have the leader they deserve or they are doing nothing to solve it).
            but if you mean that this will be the tip of the iceberg and a new era is coming let`s get tatoos of f1, prep our rolex (not me…) and pull the lipsticks to war on injustice !
            sorry i have to quote “and of all matters on which the UN stand together, it is the will to never see a global conflict again. The fundamental principle which has prevented this for 65 years is the absolute and categoric respect for the territorial boundaries of the global map”
            the UN…cited in this context… this is a joke right?
            i`m getting a newspaper from other planet (the last 50 years)
            please guys, f1 is barbie world, don`t rip your clothes apart (even if it`s tempting to play the role)
            and fuck yeah nuke ´em all !

          • …agreed. Nuking them is the best option….. BARAK!!!!! We need a word….. WHAT?

            Has America gone soft?

            Where’s George Bush when you need him (either one of them would do)

      • And the annexation of Crimea was far more benign relative to the events that followed during the military conflict in East Ukraine. I follow news from blogs and sometimes Russian TV. Hundreds, probably thousands of people died. Doesn’t matter from which side. Many civilians. Worst case, this bloodbath is/was as bad as the last conflict in Gaza. The Russian involvement is undeniable by now.

        • …Yet in fact it is the annexing of Crimea which is more troublesome to the UN and also the EU (particularly the likes of Poland.. cf Katyn massacre and pseudo occupation for decades), unless of course Russia ALSO invades properly a portion of Ukraine.

          NATO’s response says it all. The rapid reaction force was stood down in the late nineties following the cold war collapse.

          It is now back and good to go….

      • Indeed, this GP could do without the public displays of affection between Bernie E and Putin.

  2. Wow, well written as usual.

    However reading it makes me happy I didn’t see that is how it all played out. It’s clear it was always going to be a total parade of propaganda…

    It’s even mildly aggravating picturing it in my head. I can only imagine had the images lodged themselves into my grey matter… Clearly, my TV screen was saved on that fateful day of the innagural Ruski GP…

  3. I think the only thing that was missing at the moment of the anthem was a tank parade on the start-straight finish, with a mighty display of the Russian Buk missile systems… All drivers were already all lined up for a symbolic “Heil Putin!”, so protocol was already in place.

    • It wouldn’t hurt to run a column of tanks around the tracks to make it more abrasive for tires.

      • …@Jacobs… as they say in small villages where families have not intermingled with outsiders for generations…

        Today, “you are on it…………. like a bonnet”… 😉

  4. Alternative headline: Naivety of childish TJ13 unmasked and exposed.

    The article is nothing but a childish reaction. TJ13 had a massive tantrum, whining, complaining, crying, breath-holding, pounding the floor, shouting, slamming doors, throwing toys out of the pram.

    Despite the tantrum by TJ13, the race went ahead.

    And despite all the TJ13 rhetoric, the race was covered by TJ13. The child had to pretend it was not looking while sulking, but was indeed giving full attention and coverage to the event.

    If TJ13 really felt that strongly about it, you should have taken the correct ethical stance – freely cover everything else to do with 2014 season but refuse to discuss and mention anything to do with this race.

    However, TJ13, like all other two-faced hypocrites, has to live in the real world.

    Of course Fat Hippo and SIS are excluded from the above, because they showed their true commitment to Ukraine and respect for MH17 victims, and did not watch or read about this event.

    Rant all you like about FIA and FOM holding races in Bahrain and Russia, but if you really believe in your cause then show your true mettle by having absolutely nothing to do with those races on this web site.

    Why “be a man” not go further and stop having anything to do FIA and FOM, with these two ghastly organisations that you detest so much?

    • ….Usual drivel I’d expect from PK.

      Let’s turn to your inept thinking…. (I use this rhetoric and tone as a mirror to that of PK’s original comment – if we can’t be civil, then we won’t be).

      So here’s a short case study in the art of ad homnem debate…

      1) Firstly, the piece makes it crystal clear this was comedic beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. No one is “whining, complaining, crying, breath-holding, pounding the floor, shouting, slamming doors, throwing toys out of the pram”, such farce is a rare treasure – In fact if it can be half as good again, let’s go back next weekend – Monty Python has much to learn.

      2) Your thought processes are clearly muddied, (though we don’t know what levels of radiation they used on you as the experimental subject in tests to raise the IQ level above single digits).

      You may not like war, but someone has to report it for you… so that you can sit in the comfort of you arm chair – Homer-esque, duff beer in hand – whilst you weigh at length the geopolitical factors presented….. before resorting to your predisposed pejorative opinion.

      …… I have more, but I’d like to focus my time on matters more worthy of note… such as calculating exactly the number of angels who can dance together on the head of a pin….

      Have a lovely day – and remember, you reveal much about yourself from the loose words you speak 🙄

    • “Of course Fat Hippo and SIS are excluded from the above, because they showed their true commitment to Ukraine and respect for MH17 victims, and did not watch or read about this event.”

      I’m confident your having a go here at me and Hippo, beyond the dig at the Judge…

      I didn’t indeed watch the race, nor any element to it, be it build up, quali or any footage. And I never will… I did say I was going to further peruse MH17 victims during the race, which I did, and also that I was going to catch up on Monday morn and read about the actual results, which I did very early Monday morning, my time. I subsequently felt like commenting with P’s…

      My point is I did exactly as I said and I also put myself on the line and said why, clearly, in past posts about the issue – despite a hijacking.

      I never suggested to anyone not to watch the race, or how to feel. I never forced a indignant negative and pious judgement on anyone who said they were watching. This was my own manifestation of protest, as well as subconsciously saving my TV screen. It’s a small act, perhaps, as FOM won’t miss one free to air Aussie viewer, but it is what it is… It’s mine. Like James Allen didn’t attend Russia but will indeed report the race results… To each their own.

      Now if you want to poke me on this issue, it won’t end well, probably for either of us. I am also aware, perhaps more than you may think, of other tragic events that happened to non-Western people.

  5. Damn you TJ13. Did you know that the Russian Topol-M missile could reach Monaco in only 5 minutes? So stop making fun of Hamilton’s comments. He does in fact live nearby.

    • ….Indeed and if Putin can’t manage to do a good enough job of ‘smoke and mirrors’ on a relatively confined 2000 F1 circus people – restaurant larders empty, supplies at an all time low for decades – imagine how the folk of Russia will suffer as the sanctions continue to bite in the coming months and years….

      …and in the meantime the good folks of Poland keep tweeting selfies of them eating the succulent Polish fruit and veg which Putin has banned from being imported….

      Russian cheese is not made to please 😉

      • “imagine how the folk of Russia will suffer as the sanctions continue to bite in the coming months and years….”

        That’s not how Russians operate, I’m afraid.

        Forget not that these are NOT skittish Greek-like Westerners. Former Soviets are born and raised while enduring financial difficulties (something that ~60 years of communist shortages have prepared them very well for), and their mentality is in part shaped by this. They live in an informational bubble, even pre-Putin, and do not get exposed to any ideas outside their communities. Putin is simply turning the economic hardships into a badge of honor that many “Russia über alles” citizens will proudly wear.

        Remember that Stalin manned his way out of WWII, putting millions of Russians on the western front and under the butcher’s knife, yet 60 years on each and every year in former Soviet republics people go celebrate “Victory day” (or whatever it is now called) with big photos and portraits of their idol. By and large even after 25 years of post-USSR liberties, Russians throughout are still hooked to the personality cults and, I suspect, are more than receptive to Putin’s overtures.

        While watching the race instinctively I felt that his anal, close-up shots with Bernard were something driving to a personality cult move. But I couldn’t quite figure it out in my head. But after reading that TE article (and this TJ13 very article), it all makes a lot of sense.

        The more, then, shame on Jean Todt for subscribing F1 and the FIA to such blatant political abuse. What next? The GP of North Korea? All hail Kim the Kid, in a neat row, while waving to the boy dictator?

        PS After having thought it through, it is actually positively disgusting from Todt how he hijacked a minute of silence for Jules and transformed it into an open ass kiss to Putin. Hypocrisy and impotence on high display…

          • Damn browser crashed..

            This means that former Soviets endured economic hardships after the break-up of the USSR far graver, I believe, than what Greeks have been experiencing, and with less hysterics. After all, the USSR has prepared them well to shortages and into developing well honed survival instincts. For example, in the 90’s people could literally go with several months up to a year of unpaid wages. And for many economic hardship is still a grim day-to-day reality.

            The Greeks, on the other hand, at first sight of hardships have kicked and shouted how unfair that all was, losing all the privileges (conveniently forgetting that taxes must be paid in a Western democracy), until they got themselves bailed out, repeatedly, while insisting behind Western backs that they had no intention of honoring repayments anyway.

            So my point is, I guess, that should Western sanctions bite Putin’s Russia as effectively as it “kneeled” Iran, economically, then I suspect Russians would simply revert to familiar territory. (Not unlike how the Muslim Brotherhood cheered when it lost power and reverted to being a subterfuge, opposition institution, for the simple reason that they have no idea how to play otherwise.) Russians have been played the tune of defending from the oppressive West from the beginning of the 2000’s, creating or let’s say perpetuating an introverted society hellbent on aggressive defense.

            So, surprisingly (to myself, I must admit), Western sanctions could actually very nicely play in Putin’s hand… So all must be going according to plan for the psychopath from Petersburg. And as they say, Winter is coming… Boy is he going to have fun with those gas taps this winter! Maybe this is the only reason UK and others didn’t push on banning the F1 circus from going to Russia…

          • Firstly, thank you for taking the time to respond. And respond you did…

            Secondly, in a broad sense, I agree with the overall “essence” of your thought process.

            However I think there are some Apples n’ Oranges perspectives… I won’t pick apart all, as many are simply semantic, but one in particular – the opening premise of your post.

            The revolutions of the late 1980’s to the final dissolution in 1991 is about a quarter of a century (up to 30yrs) to present day. The working generation you speak of, that were “hardened” then, are much, much older now. Many dead, or well into old age. They would not feel the pinch…

            However, the working generation now might have been very young children to not-even-born then. These are the 18-40yr olds now that would feel the pain, and I think it’s debatable how “hardened” they are as compared to the soviets of old. The modern day Russian may not be as resilient as you suggest, purely based on the hardships of the late 80’s – early 90’s.

            So you are comparing the older soviets, with modern day Greeks, which frankly few would feel more saddened by than I by how they turned out.

            Like in finance, past performance is not an indicator to future returns. Similarly, the past generations, in most countries, are like like and day when compared to the current working generation.

            Also, it may not be fair to cast the shadow of the current Greek generation across the entire Greek history, or even the ones of the last 100 years through the wars and economic slumps and hardships they too suffered with stoic grace.

            Thanks for the pleasant discourse…

          • Yeah, good points. I’ll only say that until proven innocent, I’ll just assume guilt. 🙂 What I mean is that Russian society and Russian communities abroad have never really got rid of Soviet-style propaganda, or intuitive “Russians über alles” mentality.

            Young Russians in places as far afield as Estonia or Moldova will blink and balk at the idea that maybe, just might be they should speak the local language of the ethnic *majority* population while socializing (you know, when asking for directions or buying bread). I mean, the nerve!! Didn’t they all live in peace in the USSR with all populations speaking Russian? Didn’t they all get along? (Of course selective understanding of events shields them from such minor details as totalitarian dictatorship, military occupation, deportations, colonizations, pogroms, Russification, etc., etc.) So why change things now? It was so much better back then (left unspoken because misunderstood is “… when we Russians had all those xenophobic privileges in conquered territory”).

            I had a couple years back an illuminating conversation along the lines above with a ~25 year-old guy from Gagauzia. (Well, nominally, as his mother was Moldovan and his father Ukrainian, and never mind that Gagauz people are Turks anyway; but hey he was harking for back to Mother Russia!) And I must note that this *open-minded* guy was living since early teens, alone, in France. Not exactly the perfect example of someone constantly being under Putin’s propaganda machine. And I think he was open-minded for the simple reason that we could have a civil, sensible, full-length conversation on very thorny issues. And he was even grudgingly willing to concede some points.

            So as I said before: Guilty until proven innocent… 🙂

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