I saw a very interesting post over at the nEUrosis calling upon the European Union to ease visa restrictions for Russians. I wholeheartedly agree with this blogger’s opinion – Russians are not second class citizens and there is absolutely no reason for them to be treated as such. This kind of insulting, paternalistic legislation from Europe contributes to the politics of paranoia and suspicion that the current Kremlin administration is so adept at selling. Laura Citron from nEUrosis:
Many young Russians have never been to Western Europe or any other liberal democracy. (Though Eastern Europe was a popular holiday destination in Soviet times). Don’t be fooled by the Prada-sporting Russians who have taken over Courchevel – they are a tiny minority. The average well-educated, young professional Muscovite cannot get an EU visa. It is any surprise, then, that many are wholly disinterested in democracy? They see the current Russian ‘opposition’ as a collection of loons, troublemakers and power-seekers. … Perhaps that is because the vast majority of Russians don’t believe the product we’re selling. Having lived through communism, perestroika and the Putin era, Russians are understandably cautious shoppers when it comes to political systems. If a true democratic movement emerges in Russia, it will most likely be from the new middle class. Yet our visa regime denies these very people a taste of what they could fight for. A unilateral easing of the EU’s visa regime with Russia would do a lot for grassroots democracy in Russia.