Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…
by Dave Essel
A tradition that neo-Nazi Russia continues from its Soviet predecessor is hypocrisy in its awarding of medals, thus devaluing, and making a mockery of, these strange little bits of metal that states award their most exemplary citizens.
Russia’s top medal, that of Hero of Russia (shown at left), “is bestowed on those committing actions or deeds that involve conspicuous bravery while in the service of the state. It has been presented about 750 times since its creation in 1992, primarily to cosmonauts or to those involved with military action in the region of Chechnya. Several artists, politicians, economists and athletes have also been awarded the title.”
Note, however, that one recent recipient was “FSB deputy director Vladimir Pronichev […] for his role during the Nord-Ost terrorist incident, a case where as “Sovershenno Sekretno” recalls, 129 of the 130 who died were victims of the use of lethal gas by people under his command.
Who would want to be a Hero of Russia after this? Could any recipient ever feel that he or she was joining a select band now?
The Soviet Union’s and Russia’s other medals are equally sullied by the sort of people they are given to and eroded by the quantities in which they were and are showered.
Hero of the Soviet Union (shown at right), established 1934, was “awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society. The total number of persons who were awarded this title is 12,745.
Compare this to Britain’s Victoria Cross (shown left), which is likewise awarded for “… most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy” but has only been given, with care for significance, 1,356 times to 1,353 individual recipients since its introduction in 1856. Exactly the same applies to the United States’ Medal of Honour (shown below), established 1862 and awarded since then equally exactingly just 3,456 times to 3,446 recipients for having “while a member of the Army, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”.
In yet a further debasement of the reason for medals, Russia seems to like to give medals to participants in shameful acts, seemingly believing that this will whitewash the act:
Rescuers involved in Beslan release operation awarded with medals
Rescuers who were involved in the release operation of hostages from the first Beslan school that was captured by terrorists in September 2004 will be awarded with Russian state medals at a ceremonial meeting on the Victory anniversary in the North Ossetian Emergencies Ministry, aide to the Emergencies Minister Vladimir Ivanov said. Firefighters of the state firefighting service, servicemen and civil staff of the Emergencies Ministry are awarded with orders and medals. Lieu. Aslanbek Beroyev is awarded with the Order of Valour posthumously. […] Meanwhile, five officers and firefighters of the sixth Beslan firefighting unit were awarded with medals for Courage and 23 people – with medals For rescue of people.
This Russian behaviour with its medals is nothing new, I recently discovered. Anthony Beevor, in his book The Fall of Berlin 1945 (Penguin, 2002), recounts the following about the evacuation of Germans from East Prussia during the Soviet advance at the end of the war:
The chief seaport for evacuations from the Baltic coast was Gdynia (or Gotenhafen), just north of Danzig. […] On 30 January , Germany’s largest ‘Strength through Joy’ sea-cruise liner, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which had been designed to take 2,000 passengers, left with between 6,600 and 9,000 people aboard. That night, escorted by single motor torpedo boat, it was stalked by a Soviet submarine of the Baltic Fleet. Captain A.I. Marinesco fired three torpedoes. All hit their target. Exhausted refugees, shaken from their sleep, panicked. There was a desperate rush to reach the lifeboats. Many were cut off below as the icy sea rushed in: the air temperature outside was minus eighteen Celsius. The lifeboats which had been launched were upset by desperate refugees leaping from the ship’s side. The ship sank in less than an hour. Between 5,300 and 7,400 people lost their lives. The 1,300 survivors were rescued by vessels, led by the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. It was the greatest maritime disaster in history.
Russia historians, even today, still stick to the official Soviet line and claim that the ship carried ‘over 6,000 Hitlerites on board, of which 3,700 were submariners’. The main interest in Russia seems to be not the fate of the victims, but in that of the triumphant submarine commander A.I. Marinesco. The recommendation to make him a Hero of the Soviet Union was refused by the NKVD, because he had had an affair with a foreign citizen, a crime for which he narrowly escaped a tribunal and an automatic sentence to the Gulag. Only in 1990, ‘on the eve of the forty-fifth anniversary of the victory’, was he finally and posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union. [emphasis mine]”
Things just don’t change in Russia…
@”Who would want to be a Hero of Russia after this? Could any recipient ever feel that he or she was joining a select band now?”
There are “Heores of Russia” like Ramzan Kadyrov. You know, the one who killed the Yamadayev brothers, the fellow “Heroes of Russia”.
It’s an interesting issue, this of the “heroes” in Chechnya. In the entire 10-year Soviet war in Afghanistan, only a few dozen Hero of the Soviet Union awards were given (30-odd, if I remember correctly – from the warlord Grachev of eternal infamy to the real soldiers like Gromov to Aushev). But in Chechnya the “heroes” were in their hundreds. There were also lots of promotions, too (and now they’re stuck with their thousands of generals and colonels that need to be retired).
But who are they anyway, the Russian “heroes” of the war in Chechnya? Besides Kadyrovs and Yamadayevs and Pronichev and his Gasmeister too? Politovskaya on this issue:
Also I don’t think the modern Russia had that many “cosmonauts”. So it’s actually mostly Chechnya.
@”Exactly the same applies to the United States’ Medal of Honour (shown below), established 1862 and awarded since then equally exactingly just 3,456 times to 3,446 recipients for having “while a member of the Army, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”.”
Medal of Honor history had his own “Chechnya” episode well over 100 years ago during the final chapters of the Indian Wars, when it could be awarded for such trivial thing like “killed a brave and captured his horse”, because of the state of racist hysteria in the United States at the time. Twenty (20) were even given for the Wounded Knee slaughter – more than in any battle in the American military history…
But of course all of them are for a long time dead of old age, while the recent “Heroes of Russia” like Kadyrov are continously murdering people even on the streets of other countries.
Seems to happen frequently with medals.
Britain’s VC was established during the Boer War and was initially distributed rather too generously.
But, as with the Medal of Honour, it didn’t take long to realise that this would have to stop if it was to have a real moral value.
Russians, for whom the word morality is just an entry in a dictionary they don’t have and who appear to be incapable of learning from their own or others’ pasts, do the opposite.
If the US were Russia, William Calley would have been given the Medal of Honour for My Lai, in the belief that it would somehow make black white.
No Dave, the VC was established in 1856 at Queen Victoria’s request, and the first examples were awarded to veterans of the Crimean campaign for valour at the battles of the Alma, Balaclava, Inkermann, and the seige and storming of Sebastapol. Many more were awarded during the Indian mutiny, the Pekin expedition of 1860, the New Zealand wars, the Ashantee expedition, the Zulu wars, the 1st & 2nd Boer wars.
It has NEVER been an easy medal to get or too liberally awarded, and was only avaliable posthumously from 1911.
In addition the recipient can (and will) be stripped of his medal if in later life he commits and is convicted of any crime which warrants jail time and brings the holder into disrepute.
This has happened on several occasions in the history of the award.
Forgot the link
Thanks for the correction: I had a vague memory of reading that the VC was initially awarded more generously than in later years (but perhaps it’s just a memory of Michael Caine in the film “Zulu”!)
No problem Dave.
The only time that the government was accused of awaring maybe too liberally was for the battle of Rourkes Drift (which the film “Zulu” was based on”, though to be fair around 144 men (including hospital invalids) holding off over 7000 very determined, disciplined and (contrary to widely held belief the Zulu’s recognised the value of firearms and most were armed with them albeit outdated) well armed warriors deserves a few gongs!!
George “slamdunk” Tenet received the Medal of Honor for his “service” as CIA Director.
LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:
We have rules, which you apparently don’t care to follow, requiring the documentation of fact assertions of this kind with links. From your fellow commenter’s response, perhaps you now can see why and will in the future respect our guidelines.
Tenet was a civilian and the Congressional Medal of Honor can be awarded exclusively for military achievements. Tenet was ineligible. In fact, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is a civilian award. I guess, it’s all the same to you, but why don’t you check your facts before commenting
Russia’s top medal (Hero of Russia) looks very cheap – more like a souvenir.
Compare to this from Latvia
The Russian medal is made of real gold (don’t know what carat) and weighs 21.5 grams. It’s just c cheap in other senses.
Britain’s Victoria Cross, on the other hand, is made of brass (usually said to be taken from a cannon captured from the Russians during the Crimean War), and has no intrinsic monetary value, its worth deriving entirely from the deeds of those to whom it was awarded.
I find the contrast interesting.
In the 19th century, the Victoria Cross was given to those who massacred Sepoys and Zulus, now it is awarded to the participants of the Afghan and Iraqui adventures. I, for my part, prefer the Gold Star.
“In the 19th century, the Victoria Cross was given to those who massacred Sepoys and Zulus, now it is awarded to the participants of the Afghan and Iraqui adventures. I, for my part, prefer the Gold Star.”
And in the 21st century, “the Gold Star” was given to those who massacred Russians and called for killing of all Russians/”as many as possible”.
Btw, Col. Sulim the Hero together with suspected assassin:
What is the medal pinned to AD?
Sulim’s complete Brezhnev Collection:
And Sulim in 1995 :)
Russia is a souvereign country that chooses herself upon whom should she bestow her awards. On its part, the Russian government did not fobid the US government, e.g., to award the Cold War Victory Medal to Mikahil Gorbachev, although an average Russian thinks that he deserves the Judas Medal (specially minted by Peter the Great for Mazepa- http://daviscenter.fas.harvard.edu/seminars_conferences/zitser_02_08_02.pdf) a lot more.
What did Gorbachev do to deserve such a “medal?” The only thing I can think of is that on his watch the old U.S.S.R. fell apart. But blaming him is clearly illogical. Didn’t you and many other Russians repeatedly state that Russia did not want the Communist rule and that’s a different country now. So, shouldn’t Gorbachev be a Russian hero for getting rid of the Communist rule?
> The only thing I can think of is that on his watch the old U.S.S.R. fell apart.
And what should he do? Bring the Kremlin keys (and those of the Soviet ICBM start positions) on a silk cushion to a victorious President George H. W. Bush ?
> So, shouldn’t Gorbachev be a Russian hero for getting rid of the Communist rule?
In a manner of speaking, he threw out the baby with the bathwater in the process. The death toll of the ethnic conflicts in the post-Soiet territory and the crime wave that accompanied the transition period is comparable to that of an all-out war. :-(( China is still ruled by Communists – but who cares, as long as it is a superpower and the “workshop of the world”?
Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you people, but you either want to have the old U.S.S.R. or you don’t. You can’t have both at the same time. From your posting and from many others, I have an impression that you don’t really know what it is you want. So, again, Gorbachev helped destroy Communism, willingly or unwillingly, is that good or bad?
I understand the concern about the crime wave and ethnic wars, but didn’t most of that happen after Gorbachev? How could you blame him, when most of this terrible stuff happened under Yeltsin?
Wasn’t Yeltsin lauded by the West for doing away with Communism as well?
Sorry, my mistake. I tried to talk to you as though you were a human being and not a biorobot with a binary code: “Good – Bad”. :-(
Stop wiggling as a fish on the frying pan. Yeltsin’s is a separate story, so don’t try to obfuscate the issue. And the issue that you yourself brought up concerns Gorbachev. Again, what did he do to be hated?
And more broadly, do the Russians want the Communist rule or not?
@”Stop wiggling as a fish on the frying pan. Yeltsin’s is a separate story, so don’t try to obfuscate the issue. And the issue that you yourself brought up concerns Gorbachev. Again, what did he do to be hated?”
I guess Eugenics hates Gorbachev because Yeltsin was his greatest political rival during the later Soviet era (as a leader of the Russian Republic).
And I guess he loves Putin because Putin always so-faithfully served Yeltsin in the Tsar’s Boris’ closest circle and in the end was hand-picked to become his chosen successor.
What, makes no sense whatsoever? Don’t except any from Eugenics and his kind (the Russian idiots).
In a few words, when he came to power as the Secretary General of the CPSU he followed the path of the least resistance: instead of making Soviet economy efficient, he embarked on the “democratization” experiments, as though “voting on an alternagive basis” or publishing the Gulag Archipelago is going to fill anyone’s stomach or improve the quality of cars and products. When ethnic conflicts started brewing in the territory of the USSR (Nagorno-Karabakh, the Baku and Fergana pogroms, separatism in the Baltics) he did nothing to stop them (by force if necessary) or framed the Army and the services the way it was in Tbilisi in April 1989 and in Vilnius in January 1991 without wishing to assume responsibility to anyting. He went back on his oath as the President of the USSR after the Belovezhye Agreements were concluded when he resigned without trying to do anyting to save the country. But probably the greatest of his offenses was withdrawing the Soviet troops from Germany and letting Germany reunite without concluding a legally binding accord with the USA and the NATO council that would forbid the adoption of the East European countries of the NATO and the deployment of the NATO military infrastructure in the Eastern Europe. As a result, now we see the NATO troops deployed along the same lines where another coalition of “Western Values Promoters” manned by the same countries (except the USA) stood in the tragic summer of 1941. You will find the situation described through the eyes of a fellow Westerner here – http://www.sptimes.ru/story/2378.
Finally, I would like to tell you the following: I don’t wish you to see your country suffering the fate that befell mine, but nevertheless I do hope it’ll happen someday…
“as though “voting on an alternagive basis” or publishing the Gulag Archipelago is going to fill anyone’s stomach or improve the quality of cars and products”
Actually, that is precisely the precondition for filling the people’s stomachs and improving the quality of manufactured goods.
The truth lingers at the back of commie minds and resurfaces involuntarily and unexpectedly in denial attempts.
This happens surprisingly often. I suppose it’s difficult to maintain a permanent state of artificial schizophrenia.
> that is precisely the precondition for filling the people’s stomachs
For some reason, this “universal law” didn’t work in Russia – or, for that matter, in China that does quite well without all that democratic crap.
You are right – of course it doesn’t and won’t, with people like you around.
Once your kind is cured of its mental diseases, then the weight of negativity will probably be lifted and perhaps there will come a time when Russian will be able to live decent and fulfilling lives.
“In a manner of speaking, he threw out the baby with the bathwater in the process.”
Unfortunately for Russia, they didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, your country would be much better off today if they had shed themselves completely of the communist beast. But today you are left with the results, a cynical, envious, depraved society, ruled by a devious murdering tyrant who is supported by the ignorant masses.
Should we have “shed ourselves completely of the communist beast” and such legacy thereof as the Russian nuclear arsenal, I would probably be writing this post to you from a bomb shelter during some “democracy promotion humanitarian bombing”. :-(
No, if we don’t bomb other democracies.
Only criminal regimes such as Serbia, Iraq, and the like.
Russia was and is a criminal regime, hell even the Iranians hate you.
> No, if we don’t bomb other democracies.
So Russia is a democracy if you don’t bomb it? Or it is because of those Rusty Soviet Missiles the very thought of which makes you sh*it in your pants?
The only fear I have of Russian missiles is that some corrupt Russian pig like yourself will sell the warheads from one so he can go whoring and drown himself in vodka.
If the latest peice of Russian junk is anything to go by, your missiles would probably only devastate Russia by failing to launch properly.
This would be doing the world a big favour.
“your missiles would probably only devastate Russia by failing to launch properly.”
No kidding. One Soviet ICBM (no warhead) even killed the very chief of the Soviet missile forces, Marshal Nedelin (and about 100-200 other VIP officers, rocket scientists and ordinary soldiers). A Russian missile failure also sunk Kursk and so on.
And what is that “so on”? Maybe the Challenger and Columbia disasters “Americans have multiple-use spaceships and single-use space crews”? As to Kursk, everyone knows that it was torpedoed by a Pindostani submarine Memphis.
Okay, if you don’t fear Russian missiles, why don’t you bomb Russia? Maybe because it’s a democracy, after all? ;-)
On the morning of August 12, 2000, as part of a naval exercise, Kursk was to fire two dummy torpedoes at a Kirov-class battlecruiser, Pyotr Velikiy, the flagship of the Northern Fleet. At 11:29 local time (07:29:50 UTC), high test peroxide (HTP), a form of highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide used as propellant for the torpedo, seeped through rust in the torpedo casing. The HTP reacted with copper and brass in the tube from which the torpedo was to be fired, causing a chain reaction leading to a chemical explosion. A similar incident was responsible for the loss of HMS Sidon in 1955.
According to Raising Kursk broadcast by the Science Channel:
“In June of 2002, the Russian Navy recovered Kursk’s bow section. Shortly afterwards, the Russian government investigation into the accident officially concluded that a faulty torpedo sank Kursk in the Summer of 2000.”
Those “ethnic conflicts” you mention were started by Russia as a means to undermine and take over states which had gained independance from Russia during the collapse of the USSR.
Ethnic cleansing and other such crimes that occurred in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Trandenistr and many other areas were planned and executed by Russian military officers.
As for the crime wave, well Russians always have been fairly criminally minded, be it shoplifting or genocide you are always game.
Andrew, I won’t be surprised even if you write that King Herod was a Russian. I know from experience that the vaunted Western “political correctness” does not apply to Russians.
No, Herod was Jewish.
Actually he was a romanised Jew.
Never the less, the many ethnic wars that ocurred were a part of Kremlin policy to destabalise and weaken the newly independant republics.
This is historically documented, though I doubt you are capable of understanding it.
Similarly, Anti-Semites will provide you with great many “historical documents” “proving” that the ill-will of the Jews is the hidden cause of all the conflicts and disasters in the history of mankind. Nothing is new under the Moon… including the Moon itself. :-)
2Dave Esel: we DO live decent and fulfilling lives – after we shed our “democratic” and “liberal” illusions.
Can you explain how come and why? A bald statement is hardly convincing, given the weight of evidence existing against it: pathetic birth rate, pathetic achievements in any sphere of human endeavour one cares to mention, criminality, corruption, tortures that would make Guantanomo and rendition locations shudder, and so on down an endless list, a general level of inhumanity and amorality which is inconceivable to most Westerners.
I find it sickening to have to put up with such nonsense, you low-down neo-Nazi heap of filth.
Why don’t you go back to the ubornaya where you belong?
All the “evidence” you heap in your post is nothing but logical results of the West-inspred “democratization” imposed upon the ex-USSR. Now it is the task of our lives to clean up the mess and to return Russia to her legitimate superpower status she enjoyed since the times of Peter the Great. In 1921, after the Civil War and the intervention of 16 democratic and not-so-very democratic countries (from France to Japan) the state of things in the Soviet Russia was much worse than now – just 40 years later, she launched the first man in the world into space.
Let’s say for the sake of argument, that democratization was bad and that life was much better under Brezhnev and Communists. That appears to be your point throughout.
But you said it was “imposed” on the USSR. Who may I ask imposed it? Was there a foreign military intervention like during the Civil War? Perhaps, there was an embargo so the USSR had no choice but to democratize? Maybe some green men from Mars came and set up your “democracy?” I thought Yeltsin did it with the large majority of population supporting his reforms. Or was Yeltsin really a CIA spy?
Now, the democracy clearly did not work in your savage country. But why do you people always blame the foreign powers for any of your failures? Why not try to look into a mirror once in a while and ask yourselves some hard questions?
Oh dear oh dear. Aren’t you just a waste of space! I can just picture your self-satisfied flabby FSB butt sat at a computer, wriggling as you perform these pathetic mental contortions.
First man in space! Wow! The American journalist Tom Wolfe put that in its place. “The fact that the Russians are in space proves it’s not that difficult.”
He goes on to say that the proof of progress will be when Russia makes a decent razor blade, a technologically harder feat. Russia still doesn’t.
I’m sure you can explain to us how it’s the West’s fault your rockets don’t work (and are of an obsolete design anyway).
Talking of American journalists hitting nails on the head I also greatly like P.J. O’Rourke: “Commies love concrete. Trouble is, they don’t know how to make it.” From his book “Holidays in Hell. Written a while ago but still true today. Remember a certain Moscow swimming pool? Not even O’Rourke was thinking about something like that; he just meant ugly and badly made.
By the way, putting the word “evidence” in inverted commas in your last comment presumably means that you deny the truth of theitems in my list. Do you call two inverted commas a reasoned argument? Now that is seriously mad.
I appreciate that a reasoned argument was not really an option for you, given the factual truth of the items I selected somewhat randomly from the great array of Russian “successes” I had to choose from. [Note a proper use of inverted commas here]
And how about a recent find of mine. I read in last week’s Economist that, excluding oil and gas, Russia’s exports are less than Sweden’s. How’s that for getting up from your knees.
Actually it reminds me of a blues: “Been down so long, it feels like up to me.” I think that best describes the schizophrenic confusion you and many of your compatriots display so clearly.
What we need to ascertain, however, is whether this is a malignant pathology or a sad breakdown. In your case, I would say malignancy. I address myself to those who might like to cure their disease.
The sad thing about these Russian neo-nazis like Eugene is that they show the twisted psyche of Russians.
Rather than wanting to build a state that has respect for personal freedoms, rule of law, provides real leadership in solving the worlds problems, is a good neighbour to surrounding countries etc, they want to “return Russia to her legitimate superpower status” through agression against their neighbors, repression of ethnic minorities, repression of thos who hold different political beliefs and so on and so forth.
What deluded vermin such as Eugene forget is that their whore Russia has always been a backward rubbish tip of dead end ideas and repression. Russia was a “superpower” because of its massive population superiority to europe in the 18th, 19th, and mid 20th C.
Now however, Europes population has massively increased and has a far higher standard of living than Russians even in the most recently liberated (from Russian opression) members in eastern europe.
Russias military is a joke, its equipment outdated and outnumbered by NATO at all levels.
Even Russia’s latest weapons are failures as shown by the failure of its Iskander missiles to hit the BTC pipeline in Georgia despite several attempts, and the repeated failure of its latest SLBM to launvunch properly.
Unfortunately the disease Dave Essel describes so well is genetic, inherited and incurable in most Russians.
@”I’m sure you can explain to us how it’s the West’s fault your rockets don’t work (and are of an obsolete design anyway).”
Well, but it is the fault of the Westerners: all of Russia’s German prisoner-scientists are dead by now.
Was Werner von Braun captured by the Red Army? That’s something entirely new to me. :-)
Zhenya, you are a man of little knowledge and crude thinking. (But I never thought otherwise and you’ve never given reason to doubt this assessment). You are out of your depth here and your masters should replace you as you are bringing shame yet again on your country.
The Americans took Werner von Braun, a mid-weight rocket specialist and hence went on to develop lighter rockets than the Soviets, who seized Peenemunde, where work had been done on heavier rockets.
See http://www.russianspaceweb.com/rockets_ussr_germany.html for details.
For people of intelligence, by which I mean readers other than Eugene / Yevgeni , here is a lovely little couplet about von Braun’s move to the USA, written by Tom Lehrer in what he did not realise were in fact happier times:
Vonce ze rockets are up, who cares vere zey come down /
Zat’s not my department, says Werner von Braun.
On a quite separate issue what is it with Russians that they think their names should be translated? Why does our Yevgeni think he should be Eugene? In fact, if eugenics were to be employed, Eugene would be euthanised.
Plenty of German scientists were captured by the Russians too Eugene.
It’s little use, RV. It’s like an old Hungarian joke from the 1950s about two rats, a father and son, walking in the sewer when one day, they pass an open manhole. The son looks up and says, Dad, that sunlight! It looks so beautiful! Why don’t we live up there instead of down here with all the s***?” The father replies, “Because this is home, son.”
Most Russians are stuck in Russia, and to placate themselves they delude themselves with lots of hyper-nationalistic propaganda designed to hide the fact they have the lowest living standards in Europe, and that which cannot be hidden or explained away is blamed on dirty, stinking foreigners — because of course, Russians would *never* build a country like Russia is today. A few very brave Russians have dared to tell the truth, but as you know by now, telling the truth in Russia is a disease with often fatal consequences. In reality, of course, while Russia has suffered some invasions, few countries in Europe have had the isolation and freedom to develop unmolested by outside powers as Russia has, and yet they still managed to build a semi-feudal Hell hole. But just remember — it’s all your fault, not theirs. Your only consolation is knowing that you don’t have to live in Russia.
Funny joke Tomek. You are right, talking to some of these people is like talking to a brick wall. Still, I have noticed this phenomenon. Many Russians, certainly those posting here, claim that they don’t like Communism and don’t want it to return. At the same time they extol the glory of the Communist era. I cannot understand how they explain this obvious contradiction
When I was a teenager and making my first trip to Romania, I was utterly shocked at the huge drop in living standards between Poland –and we’re talking late 1980s Poland, when the economy was in a near state of collapse — and Romania. It was like I’d crossed a border somewhere into the 18th century. Then my shock was tempered somewhat by a Soviet Moldavian citizen who shared my train compartment one night, and he was shocked at how high the Romanian living standards were compared to his native Soviet Moldavia and Kyiv (Soviet Ukraine) where he lived and worked. He kept telling me “This is the West!” I was reminded of World War II, when Soviet commissars went into overdrive in late 1944 as the Red Army crossed the Prut River into Romania (proper), and the commissars had to explain away to Soviet soldiers how a poor, peasant (and war-ravaged) country like backwards Balkan Romania still managed to have a higher living standard than the Utopia that was the USSR, how Romanian peasants were all well-fed and the shops were full. All capitalist trickery! Russians have been trying to explain away these kinds of contradictions for many years.