An image with an unpleasant odor By Grigory Pasko, journalist In European countries I’ve lived in many different hotels; eaten in many different restaurants and more modest eateries, but everywhere I saw one constant: outstanding croissants. In Moscow, by the way, they have appeared as well. But for some reason, nobody’s advertising them. They’re just another kind of bun, crisp-crusted and tasty. What’s to advertise? The reader can no doubt easily recall another dozen things that don’t need advertisement. For example, the tap water in European countries. Good things, as a rule, don’t have any need for advertisement. But goods that are rotten, have an unpleasant odor, “sturgeon of second-rate freshness”, as we say… that’s something else entirely.
Recently, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (known by its Russian initials – the RSPP) offered to create in Russia a non-governmental agency for the formation of a positive image of the country. Both business and the organs of power are interested in having Russia perceived of as a dynamically developing country where a favorable business climate has been created, declared the head of the RSPP, Alexander Shokhin, at a forum of industrialists and entrepreneurs.Another participant in the conference, Moscow State University rector Viktor Sadovnichy, considers that “propaganda of real affairs, telling the story of concrete people, concrete affairs, cooperation” is important.But here’s the deal. If you truthfully and constantly write about what concretely is taking place in my country, then the image will hardly come out looking positive. Walk into any office of Sberbank, Russia’s ubiquitous state-owned savings bank, and take a look at the queues: they’ve been there since the middle of the last century. Walk into any passport office: the queues there are outrageous. Walk into any state institution whatsoever: the rude and boorish behavior of the officials there is a permanent fixture of the place. There are hordes and hordes of such examples.Moscow is Russia’s visiting card. And just about the most expensive city in the whole world. So ridiculously expensive that tour operators are seeing a sharp decline in the quantity of tourists to our country and to Moscow in particular.All this, as you understand, doesn’t help the image of the country, and indeed, has quite the opposite effect.But these are all just trifles that I’ve listed here. There are, however, global things – thinks like freedom of speech in the country and the rights of citizens. Here is a brief list of everything that clearly have not helped the formation of a positive imaged of the country beyond its boundaries.The total destruction of the successful company YUKOS, the managers of which are sitting in various jails and slowly – guilty without guilt – dying there. Serving outrageously long terms are the innocent scientists Sutyagin and Danilov. Let’s recall the children of Beslan, the hostages of «Nord –Ost». The murders of the journalists Politkovskaya and Shchekochikhin, the politician Yushenkov… The opposition has essentially been deprived of its rights and voice. The system of democratic elections has been annihilated. Those who think differently are being persecuted… I could continue.Instead of intelligibly articulating an explanation for why the rights of citizens are being violated everywhere and all the time, the apex of the country’s bureaucracy concocts new forms of struggle with those it regards as unwanted. Recently, for example, the negative image of Russia that has gained such acceptance in the world today and the methods of struggle with those who are supposedly forming it from the outside were even a subject of discussion at a session of the National Forum of Information Security «Infoforum» that took place in Moscow under the patronage of the government of the RF. First deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the RF general Alexander Burutin noted that influence is being conducted on the population of Russia along the line, in part, of destroying spiritual values, “by way of influence on individual, group and mass consciousness”. In the words of the general, [an unspecified “they”] “are using an information war” against Russia, with the help of which certain foreign forces are influencing upon the means of telecommunications, and one of the main objects of the influence of which “remains people, their world-view”. This sphere is used in part for the forming of a negative image of Russia, including by a series of non-governmental organizations, supported from abroad, noted the military man.
If I understood the general correctly, then those journalists too who write the TRUTH about THEIR OWN country are also enemies of Russia and personally of the general, because their articles do not fit in the general’s world-view relative to what is in actuality beneficial for the country, and what isn’t.I would like to remind the generals of Russia that there are, fortunately, other moral reference points in the history of the country. For example, Pyotr Chaadaev – a Russian philosopher and political essayist, and by the way, an officer of the life guards, a participant in the fighting at Borodino and the foreign expeditionary campaigns of the Russian army in the years 1813—1815. And oh yes, by the way, he was also one of the Decembrists. Chaadaev wrote: “I did not learn to love my motherland with eyes shut, with head bowed, with lips closed…, I find that a person can be useful to his country only in the event that he clearly sees it. I think that the time of blind enamourments has passed, than now we are duty-bound first and foremost to the true motherland. I love my fatherland, as Peter the Great taught me to love it. I admit that that blissful patriotism, that patriotism of laziness, which adjusts to see everything in a rose-colored light and carries about with its illusions and from which, unfortunately, many sensible minds in our country are suffering now, is alien to me.”Pyotr Chaadaev (1794-1856)I too consider that criticism is only for my country’s good. Because covering up your sores with a thick layer of paint – this is anti-sanitarily harmful. Putrefaction will set in. They will start to give off an unpleasant odor. And an unpleasant odor – that’s something that will come through any layer of paint and varnish. And all you’ll get is an image with an unpleasant odo