Thursday, August 03, 2006

More letters...

Hi, Adam, my name is John, I live in Indianapolis. I have a Russian wife, Nastya, who is a Database Administrator and Software Developer at a company here in Indy and I have a soon to be 6 year old son with Nastya. She and I have been married for nearly eight years, now.

Anyway, I wanted to introduce myself and let you know that I also have fantasized about living over yonder some day. I would never dare to attempt such a feat having to depend on local employment, however, as you have. Sweet Geezus! I have to admit, you have a bigger set 'o nads than I do.

It has also been my experience that while in Eastern Europe (specifically Russia), you are a victim waiting to happen. And the police are more likely to victimize you than the populace in general. I recall an event where an enterprising group of young lads made a half hearted attempt to relieve me of my possessions and, after dealing effectively with them, suggested to my wife that we go and report the encounter to a nice policeman standing nearby. To which she replied, "Are you out from your mind?!" It seems that the youths were very likely working in conjunction with the cop and that not only would he in fact finish what the punks had started, I would also get a taste of what Russian "justice" was like. I also learned that my wife would likely be taken back to the local lock up, also, and be raped by him and his buddies.
This is a matter of fact type of knowledge to the Russians and they are not in the least bit surprised or outraged by your own experience (I relayed your story to several of our Russian friends here in Indy). In fact, when I told them your story, they just kinda looked at me like, "And is there some point you are trying to make with this?" Suffice it to say, they were somewhat less than taken aback by it all.

Anyway, I definitely feel for you and your shitty experience with the Polish authorities and I can say that I steer far away from any police that I encounter while in St. Petersburg. In fact, I go so far as to look down and not even make eye contact with them (I nodded and smiled politely at one once and he wanted to know what the hell I was smiling at).

Other than that stuff, I am keenly interested in your life as an expat there in commie country and I hope to learn more about your situation and experiences when and if you have time. Heck, maybe we could be neighbors some day!

Indianapolis, Indiana

Hello John,

Thanks for writing to me. Now, what happened to me happened in Poland, and not Russia. I do know that what you say exists; I know it from friends who work in Moscow and Petersburg and have to deal with either the bad guy Mafia or the Good guy Mafia every day. I also had an English friend assaulted by seven or eight guys after bar time and the cops would not even respond to him. And also, I think they portray this in films from there on TV all the time. In fact this is one of the reasons that I kind of appose the Union State with Ruussia.

But I should say that in all seriousness, I have never had this from the Belarusian Police. I have had dealings with them since I have been here for drunks in our corridor (a real problem here) and with issues back when I still had to buy visas and though one guy sort of hinted that he could be bought, and it was a real subtle hint, I have never had anything but outward fairness from the cops here and have never been assaulted by anyone. I had a friend from England who got robbed late one night. He should not have been out alone late at night. He was drunk and stupid and left our dacha when he should have stayed. Of course a farmer was nice enough to ride him back to town in his horse cart for free just before this happened…

But basically, it has been my experience that Belarus is a bit more controlled than Russia is. Everybody here seems to think so. I mean, we have our idiots, but they simply don't seem to be so strong or prevalent or even such a presence that they influence people as they might in Moscow or Petersburg. And those towns to me seem even to relish that tough-guy, Russian Mafia image. But Minsk is not really like that I don't think, at least nowhere near as much and Belarus as a whole, and certainly Pinsk where I am, really is not so much like that. I mean, Pinsk is known as a tough town, but I really don't see it like you say.

Probably this is one of the things you can thank Lukashenka for. He supported the police when times were really bad and has a pretty hard justice system as you can see by the opposition candidates who are now in jail. Maybe this is why.

I mean, Belarus is no panacea to be sure, and I wish people would be a bit cleaner about how they go about their lives, but there is a rhythm here which follows the seasons and something like a friendliness which is sort of pervasive. I am comfortable in my way. Especially during harvest time.

Yours truly,