February 20, 2024

20 February 2024

I am so sad tonight, thinking about Navalny.

If you've seen the recent oscar-winning documentary they made on him, you may remember the scene of him trying to film in Novosibirsk, while a guy was taking a piss in the background. Navalny says "welcome to the Russian ghetto" or something.

I was in Russia for 3 months in 1998. Yeltsin time. I was in Chelyabinsk, outside of Yekaterinburg (it's the nearest international airport, an hour or two away if I remember right.) Also in Siberia, and arguably equally a ghetto.

I'd already been following the Navalny story closely like so many of us, but something in the film hit me hard, and I have to write some thoughts out.

There's a clip from Russian TV where some sort of roundtable news show is shown, where there's a lot of talking heads criticizng Navalny as pathetic ("tik tok is a new low", that kind of thing). Sure, every country has their Fox news equivalent–I think the phrase "state tv" was coined with Russia in mind–but this hit me as so insulting to the Russian people. This kind of reduction, reduced to Western news nationalist stereotypes. I spent so much time in deep conversation with the many friends I made there, and the intellectual pride runs deep. My first conversation was with a man named Zhenya, who'd become a little bit of a father figure for me, asking me "Why I can't kill? Whose rule is religion, god's or the police?" The people I knew had a depth of character, a resolve, a focus, a precision, a bursting bright light when there was a problem to solve.

I'm hopeful that they will get past this phase with the resolve of Pussy Riot led by Alexei's wife Yulia. I'm so grateful for the time I got to spend there and my heart is torn up for the people there, living with this regime's bullshit rolling into their ears every day.

I don't play much blues–this is probably as close as I get. (Thanks Jason for the waves)

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