EDITORIAL: Russia and Rape

On December 2, 2009, in the seaside Indian state of Goa, speedboat manufacturer and failed candidate for the Indian parliament John Fernandes (pictured above right) allegedly offered a ride to a Russian woman (above left, face concealed) and her friend, both of whom he had been acquainted with for more than a year.  At some point after that, after first dropping off the friend at home, Fernandes then allegedly attacked and raped the Russian woman.  He’s now in prison awaiting trial.  The Russian woman, whose identity is being withheld, worked as a tour operator for a major hotel; apparently Russians are flocking to Goa these days.

A few days later the ruling Congress Party’s Shantaram Naik, Goa’s representative in the upper house of India’s parliament, stated: “An alleged rape of a lady who moves with strangers for days together even beyond middle of the night is to be treated on different footing.” Fernandes’s supporters began claiming the charges could be politically motivated retaliation following his unsuccessful bid for office, which he only narrowly lost.

The Russian consulate in Goa reacted rather strangely — or it would seem so, if you were not well acquainted with the Russian mindset on rape.  Study the matter a bit, and you see the true horror of Russia’s blind hypocrisy fully revealed.

Consul General Alexander Mantytsky stated:  “We would be happy to inform our citizens not to remain outside after 10 pm, if you suppose that it would assist in their security.”  Such a flippant remark hardly seems to accord the horrific crime of rape the gravity it deserves, does it?

Mantytsky’s confusion may of course be the result of paying too much attention to what his boss says.  Russia watchers no doubt remember how then “president” Vladimir Putin joked raucously about rape charges that had been leveled against Israeli president Moshe Katsav back in 2006.  Such comments would make it rather difficult to express harsh condemnation of the Fernandes accusations, and in fact Mantytsky might even be worried that Putin would think him a “girly man” if he took too strong a line in defense of Russian women.

The net result was that other members of the Indian government appeared far more concerned about Naik’s statements than the Russians were, and far more willing to criticize him.

Mantytsky also stated:  ” He did go so far as to acknowledge, however, that “we are deeply concerned about the criminal situation in Goa. As you know, the number of Russian tourists coming to your state is steadily growing. At the same time, there is an increase in crimes against women. Because of poor security situation in Goa, foreign tourists might become victims of crime.”  That’s ironic, of course, because exactly the same situation obtains in Russia itself, where the society is so corrupt that the police are actually more dangerous than the criminals.  Yet you will not hear Russian politicians raise that subject or demand reform in Russia itself very often.

And in the final expression of hypocrisy, Matytsky seemed to suggest that Indians might be reduced to tears if Russians stopped coming to Goa as tourists.  Such an attitude is hard to reconcile with Russians’ own blatant disregard for the desires and interests of people visiting Russia or with the country’s infamous xenophobia.  The old Soviet joke about the American man who complained about poor service at his hotel and was met with the reply “yes, but you lynch blacks,” is apropos here.  It’s simply bizarre that Russians rationalize horrific abuse of foreigners at home and then manifest outrage when Russians meet the same fate abroad.

One response to “EDITORIAL: Russia and Rape

  1. I guess Putin and his pals might “envy” the “mighty man” Fernandes too.

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