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  • Writer's pictureAnna Kultin

Raping Russia: Greed and Gluttony of the Russian Elite

Faces, smeared with blood and smoke, mourning their dead children amidst the desolation of their shattered homes, haunt me. The Russian-Ukrainian war. On the day of the Great Judgment, they will be silent in the face of those who bombed their homeland in search of non-existent "militant fascism". They will simply stretch out their tired arms, holding their children’s corpses, offering to share their unbearable pain.

On the other side of the border, exhausted by a self-absorbed, schizoid patriotism, the ordinary citizens of the country named Russia live encapsulated in a propaganda bubble, snared by their enraged-at-the-world ruler.

War is a forbidden word, Peace is an unpronounceable word, Reason is a forgotten word.

Everything I remember about Russia has become a dark caricature, with a disembodied hand writing out one question, "Why?"

With its glamorous sparkle, Moscow could have dazzled even those mythical admirers of luxury, King Herod or Louis XIV. Beginning in early 2000, the Gold-Domed City came into its own: a world-class capitol of fashion, gastronomy, gorgeous women, and profligate oligarchs entrenched in unbridled wealth, corrupt and of course domineering bureaucracy obsequiously serving its chief, and other lesser servants, dreaming of ascending to the same rarified heights.

Not so long ago, it was the capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and regardless of shifts in political tempo it still waltzed toward a very promising future, shedding the tattered castoffs of socialist ideology and stoically enduring a hangover from the gangster strife of the 90s. The waltz was awkward, too fast and too erratic, like everything the Russian soul has ever done, in unbridled intoxication, to the exclusion of any cautious apprehension of consequences.

The new passion, no longer condemned but, on the contrary, elevated to a powerful cultish mantra by "gangster capitalism", was the desire to make money. The only class distinction they had was that either you had money and were successful, or you had no money.

The memories of those who were born in the Soviet Union with its social norms of equality were blown away by the vicious accessibility of even the smallest tidbit of bourgeois wealth.

The average family living in the Communist Paradise was supposed to be satisfied with one small apartment loaned by the Soviet state. Having a car was an extreme luxury, as was travel beyond the USSR’s borders. Eventually, yesterday’s Soviet children, dressed in identical school uniforms, marched in an almost-military line from the Soviet Paradise to a new exciting commercial future. Later, many of them were afflicted by the malaise of avarice, concentrating all the country’s wealth into their hands.

Having money elevated even the worst scoundrel and crook to the rank of a special person. Money opened the door to the world of the chosen few. While all Western narratives of success were painstakingly drawing the portrait of the successful person, Russia was nurturing its own version of Bill Gates, wearing a Brioni jacket with a hint of a peasant’s vatnik peeking out from underneath it. And the newborn Russian mega-capitalist was not in the vanguard of global innovations and technological solutions; rather, those “bandit businessmen” were appropriating the oil and gas resources, factories, and banks of the previous system.

As businessman Alexander Lebedev, a banker ruined by the Chekists who once belonged to this "special class" wrote: Russian oligarchs are "a bunch of cultural ignoramuses" for whom "material goods are a very emotional and spiritual thing. They think the only way to impress someone is to buy a yacht."

It was an unstoppable drunken pursuit of wealth that crossed all moral and ethical boundaries: murder, blackmail, extortion... American journalist David Sutter, a keen observer of life in the USSR and then Russia, described it as: "The driving force behind this process (that is the drunken pursuit in my words) was not a desire to create a system based on universal values, but the desire to introduce a private property system, which, in the absence of law, would open the way for a criminal pursuit of money and power."

The periphery somehow continued to live its own life, while this new class – those with money – arose, but the majority of the Russian population could never aspire to join them. It was a simple, hidden longing in the depths of the tired masses. Inaccessibility. Successful business in the provinces was the exception rather than the rule, and in comparison with the radiant display of wealth in Moscow, a pale glimmer.

Along and across its Mkadov and non-Mkadov rings, Moscow was overrun by elite high-rises, houses, business centers, and restaurants beyond even the greatest chef’s fantasies. Any self-respecting official or big businessman had to build his own mansion, buy an airplane or a yacht, and satisfy any whim whispered by his mistresses’ full lips.

While the fun-loving, hard-drinking president of this newly-minted democracy, Boris Yeltsin, was dancing on political podiums, the rising oligarchy was mastering politics, mass media, blackmail, and intrigue-weaving techniques. True power was held by a handful of businessmen, insane with greed, who were lounging on a massive bed of burning embers – nearly 40 million disenfranchised citizens – that could have turned into a raging bonfire at any time.

Those who had acquired wealth had no intention of caring for the working class; those poor people, from whom obedient patriotism is required at all times, were left out of the picture.

Soon, the baton of governance passed from Yeltsin's feeble hands to Vladimir Putin - the tamer-to-be of the oligarchs, the terrorist outlaw, the diligent student of the Chekist school, the person who sensed that all the Russian people truly want – is a tzar.

In the 2000’s, the fame of the “wealthy Russian” soon spanned the globe: epic parties at the French resort Courchevel, villas on the Mediterranean, the most prolific buyers at Sotheby's and Christie's events – they even dared to defy physical mortality, investing in mind-boggling life-extension technology.

After 30 years of unchallenged rule by the new president – the “guy with the balls”, as he might be called in the West – the 40 million non-elites, with their glazed eyes, had simply become a bargaining chip. With this same currency, he might also buy a toilet brush for his $100 billion palace. Putin was a brilliant leader who learned how to take advantage of the insatiable greed of his elite and control them through fear and intimidation. And if any of those timid people ever breathed a word – they would be expunged from the Russian life-map. A cruel but simple rule.

Alexei Navalny, a critic of corruption, exposed Putin's construction of a castle costing over 100 billion rubles. The president waved away Navalny’s accusations, but it weakened his position and the sleeping populace was disturbed from their slumber. There was, possibly, HOPE. But sadly, it was simply the momentary convulsion of a sick body, which was then immediately injected with a propaganda antidote to purge any free-thinking, critical attitudes towards power. Like never before in Russia’s history – 146 million human beings were transformed into a tamed herd wallowing in fear and ennui, with no ability, no rights to have a voice. The more talented and independent thinking of them were having terrible waking nightmares: beautiful Russia raped by lustful and insatiable greedy ghouls. But as in any dream, you can’t raise your voice, and have to hopelessly wait until you wake up.

A new bureaucratic oligarchy, with its castles and yachts, was again ruling the country and its quiet, obedient people. The specter of Socialism then materialized, in the terribly looped plot of Russian history, the formidable enemy of world imperialism – the rebellious beast, despite a grievous head wound, opened its blasphemous mouth again. But now at its feet also crouched a subjugated Church. In vain do the Orthodox domes shine in fear-shrouded Russian cities – they do not disseminate the word of God, but the word of the Ruler. Blessed covenants of the blood-stained Christ are recast into something governmentally convenient. Inconvenient phrases are surgically excised and the patient, anesthetized by schizoid patriotism, has no desire to read the Bible or classical Russian literature, written in the blood of those who were in the Gulag, who were imprisoned, who fought, who lost their loved ones in fratricidal wars. Their works are just escapist fantasies for the weak - with their themes of love for human life, love, preaching of peace.

Within a month, Russia was finally redrawn into the semblance of a Chekist state, where words were filtered and denunciations welcomed. Fear, like a pervasive acrid smoke, seeped into every home and became a gray cloud over people’s heads. And those who had not yet learned to whisper would find themselves mocked, crushed, killed. All artists and the entire liberal press were to be destroyed, and academics to receive directives on what to say and how to say it. Everything would be justified by special martial law. Everything. Even outright insanity.

On the altar of the country's future greatness, hypnotized mothers, who unabashedly mourn unhappy heroes in soap operas, sacrificed their own children without a second thought. And their drunken husbands in their striped wife-beaters emerged from their beer binges just long enough to scream obscenities about the repulsive West, its evil values and monstrous gays. "Kill, kill everyone! Glory to Russia!"

The history of modern Russia is tragic, not a story of greatness, but a story of the unbridled greed of its supposed elite, who have never cared about what they call the common man. It is the story of doomed Sisyphus, a history of the constant commoditization of inhuman ideas – most of all murder in the name of good, which is not only accepted but applauded by the slavish top bureaucrats and controlled media.

In 2022, Russia crossed the line – the war with Ukraine revealed the deeply-rooted cancer in her soul.

Great Russia is a paradox: based on the hearts of touchingly kind and open people capable of great sacrifice, but whose thoughts have been corrupted by the ideas of false idols. The result is a cultish spirituality and a deeply anti-Christian country, where the wisdom of the Bible is heard from the lips of the Antichrist.

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