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Why I Love Russian Snobs

I do not really like to be flying in company with my compatriots! They are habitually discontent with the service they usually get, with the tourists from other countries and with each other too. They buzz, clutter, and drink indulgently aboard. By every word and gesture they demonstrate their desire to rebel. And this may happen ubiquitously at any time.


I actually think that our people do not want to be aware of and respect the notion of order. If the authorities tell us to line up for something, then people will bend their heads and humbly stand to the command. But it is hardly possible to imagine that we the Russians consciously behave in a decent manner and have consideration for the regular and reasonable course of things and events. You can’t really take aboard the plane more than one carry-on. You just cannot it is a rule. Period! For many years this rule has been applied by all carriers. But does it matter to Russian tourists who have bought thousands of things in Italy and now want to get on the plane with several huge bags?! They fight against Italian providers, scolding in Russian, and finally get permission to take aboard this entire uncountable luggage. But this is not the end of the story. The funniest moment will take place later, when the selfsame people start complaining aboard the plane: ‘There is not enough room for my bags, all the racks are already full, damn it’. I have observed this with my own eyes in the Venice airport, just on the eve of the New Year.

 


I do not like to be a snob, especially towards my compatriots, but is their routine behavior rational and civilized? I do not think so. Snobbery is a bad thing. But, unfortunately, some Russian citizens are inveterate snobs. And, as funny as it may sound, they feel superiority towards other Russians. That does not mean these snobs are arrogant by nature. Moreover, they are very nice, civilized, and intelligent people. Then what's the matter?
This snobbery has been traced in the Russian character for hundreds of years and it will not disappear any time soon. The generations and political regimes take turns in Russia, but this weird phenomenon is still present. The main cause of this might be a split between the two groups of the Russian people, separated by invisible fence. These groups have coexisted in Russia since the time of Peter the Great.


The first group — the snobs are well-educated and very proactive individuals, who realize clearly the necessity of Western ways and means for Russia. The second group consists of people, who are usually less educated, more inert and most importantly, indifferent or hostile towards Western culture. They can voraciously consume Western commodities, from tea bags and IKEA furniture to Hollywood movies and European sights, but they believe that Russia and Russians are special and different from Europeans, or say, Americans. Answering the question ‘Do you want to leave Russia for another country?’ many of them would say yes. But here speaks the dissatisfaction with their current life in Russia, and not the rational desire to be residing somewhere else or to improve the situation in Russia. These Russians carry out big shopping bags from Paris and Milan, travel abroad only with tourist groups, and sneer at ‘prim Germans’ or the ‘overly amiable French’. The second group is quite big. Those are Putin's voters. At the same time, the first group, which is pretty small, is diminishing because of high emigration rates. As Anatoly Adamishin, a Russian diplomat once said on the air of the Echo Moskvi radio, this is the ‘moral emigration’ taking now place. This type of emigration is an escape of the most proactive and educated people, who are fed up with the feeling of political and mental bog in Russia.


I have a feeling of fellowship for the first group - the snobs. I respect rules that make sense, I want to respect myself and others and, which is utterly crucial, I do not believe in Russia's ‘special ways’. The Russian civilization is very closely tied with Europe. Of course, our culture is original, but it is impossible to imagine Russia distracted from Europe. For instance, Pushkin is an eminent Russian poet and writer whose works were influenced a lot by Englishman Byron. Saint Petersburg is a majestic Russian city, in which many European architects have put their creative efforts. Capitalism was not invented in Russia as well, but it is the only economic system that proved its efficiency. It seems to me that it is very important to understand and to accept the vitality of this connection.


It is also essential to honor the universally accepted rules and respect foreigners, and to esteem oneself not for ethical uniqueness but for real doings. And real doings are absolutely the same for different cultures: to build a house, to plant a tree, to bring up children etc. The snobs understood this long ago. To start the European way Russia needs the numerous ‘Putin's party’ to understand the same.

Reported from Marco Polo
Airport in Venice

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