[Right to judge]

As many Russians, especially intellectuals, I deeply mistrust and sometimes fear the Russian “state” and government. I have good reasons to be wary of Putin or whoever is in power, as well as of the silent majority of my compatriots. Yet when some intemperate American neo-conservative plunges into analysis and commentary on Russian matters (you know the rap: Putin’s KGB past, imperial ambitions, corruption, etc.), I begin to lose my composure. They think they know everything — or, rather, the precious little they know is enough to pass judgement. It’s all a piece of cake to them.

Well, I pass judgement on American politics, too, so look who’s talking! But there is an obvious asymmetry between them and myself. I have learnt their language; I have lived in their country; I have long been interested in their literature, history and culture; and if love is too strong a word, I am affectionately fascinated by their country. To sum it up, I’ve been making good-faith efforts to understand them, and I care about America, strange as it sounds. And they — they don’t really care about anything but their homunculus-like, lifeless ideas. (We still stand united by one universal concern — that for the state of our pocketbooks.)

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