Re: Russia’s Americans

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

Subject: “Russia’s Americans”
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2017
From: Deena Stryker <deenstryk@gmail.com>

Recently Johnson’s Russia List ran a story about the dearth of Russian experts available to participate in serious projects seeking to mend US-Soviet relations. The fact that fewer college students are studying Russian than in former periods caught my attention because last May I travelled to Russia for the first time, intrigued by a report in the Moscow Times that several thousands Americans were living and working there. [https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-20/wanted-russia-experts-no-expertise-required]

As a former ex-pat who lived and worked in half a dozen foreign countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain, I was struck by the fact that I had never encountered any reports about this in the US media. Thanks to Sharon Tennison, a former California nurse who was sufficiently alarmed by the threat of nuclear war to travel to Russia back in the eighties, subsequently founding an NGO that has been bringing Americans to meet with their counterparts in Russia since then, I was able to tease out a diverse list of Americans and Europeans who were willing to be interviewed.

The result is a 53,000 page illustrated manuscript that melds Russian background – and current information – with their real life stories. Some of the younger people had in fact become curious about contemporary Russia while studying the language at American universities – one, in particular did so for want of a compelling major! Besides the daily Moscow Times, there are several websites that facilitate the transition and serve as a hub for information on the latest activities and sites of interest to the growing US-British-European expat community, not to mention a host of blogs written by its members, including several who live in out of the way places, including the originator of California’s succession movement, Calexit, who lives in Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Ural region, where the last Czar and his family were killed.

I knew from watching commercial-free RT that a growing list of Americana have shows there including Thom Hartmann, Chris Hedges, former Minnesota governor, Jessie Ventura, Larry King (who has one on entertainment, the other on politics) and that former MSNBC anchor Ed Schulz is one of the newscasters. RT also shows dozens of American academics and businessman attending the conferences organized by President Putin several times a year in Moscow, St Petersburg or Sochi, apparently unafraid of being called out by the media for being a Putin-whatever.

Oliver Stone’s four-part interview with Vladimir Putin disappeared from YouTube almost as soon as it went up, but I’m hoping the real-life stories of American graduates and established professionals who have chosen to live and work in Russia will have better luck reaching an American audience.