Hi everyone!

I'm Fedor Alekseev and I'm nowhere near famous but after seeing this AMA by a pro-government journalist I thought it would be interesting to share some experience and knowledge from the opposite point of view.

I'm the editor-in-chief of a small online magazine that has been around for a bit more than two years and has gained some popularity in my city and region.

In addition to doing local-tier stuff, I also write for bigger media outlets on a freelance basis, including Meduza, the most popular anti-Putin media outlet and the most cited one on Russian social media.

I've been holding strongly anti-Putin views for at least 10 years, took part in dozens of protest events and organized one, was also arrested a couple times.

Feel free to ask me anything about life in Russia, Russian politics, my work, or just whatever you want to know. Russia is an awesome place in all regards but politics, I really love living here and will be happy to talk about things not related to Putin, and debunk your stereotypes of cold weather, cold people, ugly commieblocks, vodka and bears. Life around here is nothing like that!

Proof

Here's a page I made on my tiny magazine's website as a proof.

Here's one of the articles I wrote for Meduza, featuring my name and a link to my own tiny magazine, which I guess counts as another proof.

Cheers!

Edit: I'll have to sign off soon, sorry that I haven't replied to all of your questions yet. I absolutely can't guarantee that I ever will, as there are tons of them, and many are repetitive or just jokes, but I'll try to comment a bit more when I'm back.

Now that the thread got some traction (way more than I expected), I want to use this as a chance to promote r/AskCentralAsia, a tiny but fairly active and interesting sub I created not long ago to help people learn about our rather obscure part of the world (yeah, my city in Russia is just one hour drive away from Kazakhstan and the area is way more similar to it than it is to Moscow or elsewhere in Russia, so it kinda belongs to Central Asia). r/AskARussian gets a honorary mention too.

And of course, thanks a lot for your questions, most of them were really interesting, deep and thought-provoking!

Comments: 1747 • Responses: 75  • Date: 

Rkane442319 karma

Are you worried you’re on a hit list now?

gorgich2425 karma

I doubt I am. I'm dead sure there are some police and/or FSB employees who keep an eye on me, among thousands if not millions of Russians with similar views, but I don't feel like I'm in danger.

Fake_William_Shatner399 karma

Are you in Russia or some place that Putin has influence or outside the country?

gorgich990 karma

I live in Russia, in the city of Astrakhan in the South-West. Here are some pics of my city in case anyone is curious what it looks like. It’s beautiful!

Right now I’m in Saint Petersburg though, but that’s also in Russia.

m_keeb12 karma

[deleted]

gorgich106 karma

I'll copy two previous comments of mine on the topic.

Answering a question by a Korean American if they'd be unsafe here:

Here, not at all, but my city is a big exception. I’m from a very diverse area where like 40% aren’t Slavic/White and most of those 40% are Asian. Here you’d totally fit in, and the area just has very little racism because of having been a melting pot for ages.

Other parts of Russia, including Moscow, are way more racist on average, but racism is almost entirely limited to “familiar” peoples, i. e. Russia’s own minorities and immigrants from the ex-USSR, most notably countries like Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Once people realize you’re a “total” foreigner from nowhere near the general region, even the racist fucks will turn friendly and curious in most cases.

Answering a question about immigration problems:

We do have immigration, but not immigration problems, I think. I mean for the country as a whole it isn't problematic. But it is often problematic for the immigrants themselves.

My region has been a melting pot for ages and is internally diverse as hell, so recent immigrants mix in well and don't face much discrimination.

It's very different in most of Russia though, and weirdly enough even in Moscow, which, although being a huge and sort of globalized city, tends to be incredibly racist in daily life. You can even see ads of apartments for rent where the landlord openly says "will only consider Russian citizens" or sometimes even "will only consider Slavic people" (basically euphemism for White). Cops on Moscow subway often single out Asian or Middle Eastern people from the crowd and stop them to rudely ask to show their ID to make sure they're staying in Russia legally. Some may even ask you to show what's in your pockets or wallet, hoping to find drugs. It's not even legal for cops to ask for that, but the folk they stop often don't know much about the law or are just too afraid to refuse. And that's just the top of the iceberg, so much shit happens there, and not just to immigrants but also to Russia's very own indigenous peoples and other minorities. To myself when I go to Moscow too, as I'm not Slavic either. Nothing like that in my city, thankfully.

MagjinBuu711 karma

Do you think Russia could change after the era of Putin?

gorgich776 karma

I really hope so. At this point almost any drastic change would be for the better.

jackanapes8284 karma

Do you think Russia could have a true republic/democracy without tyrannical over reach or massive corruption?

gorgich643 karma

I know it may sound weird, but I think one of the big problems is how huge and diverse the country is. It's very hard to govern it efficiently from just one place, and with the degree of centralization Moscow is imposing, half-successfully, it becomes barely possible. If Russia became a super loose federation, a confederation, or a bunch of independent states, it would be definitely more likely that at least some of its parts would be way more democratic and just better off than now.

boofboof123690 karma

How do you feel about the poll taken by Pew Research that suggests the majority of Russians (78%) regret the breakup of the Soviet Union, and 58% hold positive feelings towards Stalin?

gorgich1044 karma

Even I partly regret it. Nostalgia often works like that, you remember the good parts and forget the bad ones. And the USSR definitely had both.

The Stalin part is terrible though. Really sad.

djdj5050616 karma

What is the story that you have written that you are most proud of?

gorgich1065 karma

That of a small ethnic group in my area that has gone through some wild shit.

First, they had to leave their homeland because it was invaded by another tribe, then they were forced to stop living as nomads and settle in newly created towns by the Soviets, which led to massive famine because they weren't used to non-nomadic lifestyle or familiar with agriculture. Then a massive gas processing plant was built in their area, making the ecological situation total shit. In the late 90s they had to resettle again, and the government ended up moving some of them to tiny commieblock flats in a ghetto'ish area on the outskirts of the nearest city, despite their promises to build a nice new town for them. And during all that stuff, they never had formal recognition as an ethnic group, were lumped together with bigger ethnicities for census purposes and other official stuff, and absolutely overlooked by the media and just general public. And many more sad stories.

Static_Salt202 karma

What is the name of the tribe?

gorgich437 karma

The Karagash or Karagash Nogai, not sure if there’s much information about them in English though.

OpenWaterRescue57 karma

What kind of a response did the article get?

gorgich290 karma

None from officials or big companies, but ordinary folk living around here got more curious about that ethnic group, and people of that ethnicity itself were happy to learn that they attract curiosity and media attention, and knowing that helped them organize themselves and launch an NGO aimed at preserving and promoting their language and culture. I keep in touch with the guys and helped them organize an open-lecture-about-their-culture-for-the-general-public type event in January.

Sluggerknuckles27 karma

You should post or link the story.

gorgich58 karma

It’s in Russian though. But I can give a link if you’re curious and can read it or are fine with having to read a Google Translate’d version of it.

Sluggerknuckles34 karma

Hell yeah. I’ll Google translate it.

gorgich64 karma

I’ve written a few articles on the topic but this one sums it up the best, although it’s pretty straightforward and informative rather than having a more poetic style I used in some other texts about the Karagash.

I just tried Google Translating it by putting a link into the translator and it didn’t work, I guess it’s because of the website’s weird CSS, so you may need to copy&paste the contents.

ChezBoris410 karma

Is Putin's Russia the most authentic version of "We wanted the best, but it turned out like always" (Хотели как лучше, а получилось как всегда)?

gorgich328 karma

Definitely.

ChezBoris155 karma

:/

Do you think there is something specific about the Russian soul that guides the nation towards this sad fate?

gorgich369 karma

Might be centuries of serfdom and absolute monarchy and Soviet dictatorship afterwards. People are just not used to democracy mentality-wise.

needaguide258 karma

Where did you learn your English?

Your English reads exactly as western country's English would read: tone, mannerisms, phrasing etc., it's uncanny.

gorgich394 karma

Thanks a lot for the evaluation :)

I was lucky to have a surprisingly decent English teacher by public school standards and then went to one of the few liberal and West-oriented universities in Russia. My mom also is an English teacher, so there’s that too. Reddit and just internet in general also helped, I guess, as well as some traveling.

Edword2367 karma

Where have you traveled to? I'm always interested where people from other countries have been able to travel to.

gorgich166 karma

All major European countries except France, some minor Europeans ones, a lot of the ex-USSR, and Israel.

peteroh925 karma

Interestingly/ironically, this is the first comment where I've noticed a grammatical problem.

gorgich40 karma

Lmao, just noticed it too! No idea how/why it's there, doesn't seem like a mistake I'd normally make. Too much typing today I guess :)

Effinepic13 karma

This is just a random bullshit question, but I'm curious: is Andrei Tarkovski generally well-known there, or is it like in the States where he's mostly just known by people explicitly into film?

Do you have a favorite of his? I recently came across Stalker and my mind was blown. Any other Russian filmmakers you recommend?

gorgich24 karma

Fairly well-known and appreciated, especially among creative class folk and generally more educated demographics. Hard to pick a favorite tbh, Stalker indeed is good. I'd recommend Leviathan (2014) and other movies by Zvyagintsev, anything by Yuri Bykov (but especially The Fool). Aleksei Balabanov is great too!

GreatZarquon211 karma

Hi OP,
From the UK, so this is a rare opportunity for me to find out something that isn't heavily edited to avoid offending Putin. A few Qs about the media, if you don't mind.

First, as someone else asked, are you worried that doing this will offend someone higher up in your government and/or media?

Secondly, what is it like writing in a media outlet that isn't pro Putin? For instance, do you get censored in any way, or does publishing online bypass that?

Finally, what do you think your career prospects as a journalist are like, if you aren't pro regime?

gorgich304 karma

Not really. Guess I’m not important enough for them to make my life dangerous. If I focused on corruption scandals in my writing, it could be different. If I lived in Chechnya, I’d be likely dead by now.

Anti-Putin media outlets exist almost exclusively online and at least the ones I write for don’t have any internal censorship, except very basic legal stuff. Like if you mention ISIS, you also have to mention that it’s a terrorist organization that’s banned in Russia. There’s stuff like that and that’s about it.

I’d say career prospects are pretty good if you’re fine with working for online outlets and not federal TV or biggest print newspapers.

jeremiah1119185 karma

What are some misconceptions of Russia that you'd like to clear up?

Are there any things said about other countries that you think are misconceptions that Russian people have of other countries?

gorgich535 karma

It's not that cold in some parts of Russia. My city barely gets any snow in the winter and gets as hot as 40 C / 104 F in the summer.

We have nice architecture here, not just ugly commieblocks. Here are some pics of my city.

We don't have that many bears wandering around, I have never seen a bear except at a zoo.

Not all of us like Putin or are homophobic/racist/etc. Most of my friends and family aren't that.

It's a very diverse country that has majority-Muslim and majority-Buddhist regions. It's not just Slavic folk all the way.

A lot of Russians are just as ignorant of the outside world as the stereotypical American redneck, so I don't even know where to begin, talking about your second question.

cookerg149 karma

What makes being anti-Putin in Chechnya more dangerous?

gorgich412 karma

It's not just being anti-Putin, it's just being there.

It is an absolute-majority-minority region that was at war with Russia proper twice since the USSR fell apart, and now functions like an almost fully independent country only formally being a part of Russia. It's run by fundamentally Muslim and incredibly conservative mafia clans who torture LGBTQ rights activists and burn houses of people who criticize the regional government. It's like 10x or 100x more dictatorship-like than Russia proper.

prunero140 karma

Our view of Putin in the West is that he is an all-powerful dictator, but I have heard Russians dispute this, saying Russia is really full of competing secret agencies and he is only large cog in the wheel.

How deep is Putin’s hold on Russia, and who are the other main players?

gorgich222 karma

I have heard Russians dispute this, saying Russia is really full of competing secret agencies and he is only large cog in the wheel.

This is true. I mostly say "anti-Putin" about myself and people with similar views just because it's simpler and more recognizable, but in fact Putin isn't personally responsible for most of the shit we dislike. FSB is a huge player, definitely. Other siloviki too, and corporations / oligarchs.

rasterbated85 karma

[deleted]

gorgich60 karma

Yep. By the way, colloquially, the same term is often used to describe the said forces/services as a whole, or even their ordinary low-rank employees.

Chrischn89131 karma

I have so many questions!

Mostly about the general Zeitgeist of the normal Russian population.

  • How popular is Putin really?

  • Do people know he's acting like a Tsar and what do they think is his overall plan?

  • Is there a deep rift between the old generation who longs for the times of the USSR and the young liberal generation or is everyone on the same page?

  • Where do you think all of this is headed, especially considering that Putin isn't going to live forever?

  • What do the people think about the Crimea annexation? Justified or not?

  • What about the passenger plane that was shot down? What's the general consensus about that?

  • Do people care about the increasing internet censorship?

  • Do people take climate change serious? Is it even a topic people talk about?

  • Do people know about the rigged elections and do they care?

  • And lastly, I heard about those Mail Order Brides, is that still a thing? Asking for a friend... (just kidding!)

gorgich389 karma

How popular is Putin really?

I'd say 25% really dislike him, 25% really like him, and 50% are just indifferent with the Soviet-like mentality of "we won't protest until we're starving; we can't change anything anyway so why bother; TV doesn't show any alternatives so I guess I'll vote for him even if he isn't that cool".

Do people know he's acting like a Tsar and what do they think is his overall plan?

Yes, even his fans sometimes acknowledge it (and are fine or even happy about that, apparently). Tsar is a common ironic nickname for him actually. Many people think he will be the president until he dies, and even if he formally won't, he'll be still really in charge even if they will choose and "elect" some puppet guy.

Is there a deep rift between the old generation who longs for the times of the USSR and the young liberal generation or is everyone on the same page?

There is. You just described it fairly well.

Where do you think all of this is headed, especially considering that Putin isn't going to live forever?

I wish I knew!

What do the people think about the Crimea annexation? Justified or not?

It's one of the fairly sensitive topics. I'm absolutely against it, but there are many people who were supper happy when it happened.

What about the passenger plane that was shot down? What's the general consensus about that?

If asked, most people would say the Ukrainians did it, I guess. It's barely discussed here, compared to how big of a topic it is in the West and especially the Netherlands.

Do people care about the increasing internet censorship?

Yep.

Do people take climate change serious? Is it even a topic people talk about?

Not really except the minority of educated creative class youth in big cities.

Do people know about the rigged elections and do they care?

Most people will acknowledge it is at least partly faked, but surprisingly, some are fine even with that.

And lastly, I heard about those Mail Order Brides, is that still a thing? Asking for a friend... (just kidding!)

Not a thing really, and never was nearly as big as the stereotypes suggest :)

dbatchison87 karma

What's your favorite home made russian food recipe?

gorgich121 karma

Not an ethnic Russian/Slavic dish but fairly common in my (ethnically diverse) part of the country: plov (also known as pilaf), it's awesome. Just google it and you'll find tons of recipes, most of them likely very good.

Of ethnic Russian dishes, pelmeni and blini are great.

Erick_Alden84 karma

Why don’t you like Putin?

gorgich308 karma

Because he and his government are inefficient, corrupt, oppressive and undemocratic.

ForeingFlower77 karma

What is it like being a journalist that goes against the government's ideas? Have you ever received by threats or feared for your well-being?

gorgich217 karma

I've been arrested at protest events, but not for being a journo. They just arrested like everyone they could. That's about it.

If I lived in Moscow, worked for a bigger and more important media outlet, and mostly focused on corruption scandals in my writing, it would be different (i. e. more dangerous).

If I lived in Chechnya, I'd likely be dead by now.

jebo12375 karma

Do you believe the United States and Russia will go to war again? Further, do you believe the Russian people would support a war against the United States, or do they identify with Americans to the point where they wouldn't support it?

gorgich418 karma

I doubt that, most people would agree we don't need a World War Three, including those in charge.

I don't think most Russians would support any major war, really. And only extreme Putin fans and nationalists dislike ordinary people from the West.

My granddad once said something along the lines of "I wouldn't fight for any flag or idea, but if armed soldiers appear on my village street disturbing the peace and causing disorder, I'll fight em, even if they're Russian". Sums it up pretty well I guess.

polloloco8173 karma

Hi Fedor, thank you for doing the AMA. Generally speaking, how do Russians view Americans, and how is the general vibe of the Russian people regarding Trump.

Do they feel like the turmoil created from all that’s going on with the U.S. election meddling as a victory for Russia?

Do russians have stereotypes for Americans?

gorgich138 karma

Some Putin fans and nationalists may have a negative view of ordinary Americans, but most Russians perceive them just like any other people and are friendly and curious if they meet them. The general half-joking negative stereotypes are the same many Europeans have: fat, loud, ignorant, arrogant, overly patriotic. But that's just banter, really.

I don't think many people care much about Trump or the election meddling thing. It's not discussed here nearly as much as it is in the West. Safe to say most Russians don't have a strong opinion on the matter.

modernatlas67 karma

I hope I'm not too late! How large would you say the interest in literature is inRussia, or at least your region? My russian language professor tells us that most Russians are well read and it is either fairly normal, or at least looked favorably on to have read the classics of russian literature: Nabokov, Solzhenitsin, Bulgakov, and especially Pushkin.

gorgich88 karma

Classic literature is a huge part of our culture and many people are fairly enthusiastic about it! What your professor said is true.

dinocat265 karma

Hey, as an American who’s never been to Russia, is daily life affected by Putin? Like will someone shush you from saying something bad because you don’t want to be arrested?

gorgich165 karma

Not at all. It's not a North Korea-tier dictatorship. Even if you say that at a police department, they will most likely give you weird looks and maybe some angry comments, but definitely not an arrest. Saying that at a bar, on the street or something is common and absolutely fine. At my uni, even profs did it during their lectures, but that isn't that common, my uni is among the most liberal ones.

broken_clubs63 karma

Does car drive you?

gorgich56 karma

I don’t even have a car :)

RumiMM41 karma

Do you often get approached with bribes?

gorgich59 karma

Never, so far!

fakeymcgee939 karma

What is your favourite, and least favourite, thing about living in Russia?

gorgich126 karma

Favorite: really hard to pick one. I love pretty much everything about living here, at least in my part of the country. Landscapes, architecture, people, mentality, food.

Least favorite: again hard to pick, but the obvious choice is the government. Some other points would include prevalence of homophobia and racism (both not as common and strong as pictured by foreign media, but still problematic); inequality; the fact that I had to get a visa to go anywhere in the West and the process includes annoying paperwork, fees, waiting in lines, sometimes even interviews, and still the possibility of being denied. Also climate for most of the country but not my part. It harldy ever snows where I live, and summers can get as hot as 40 C (104 F). I like the heat way more than the cold.

DoucheMacGoo37 karma

I was browsing in r/normaldayinrussia the other day and a user posted a picture of fellow co-workers in full black face, head to toe. I was horrified by it and he said they were dressed as Aboriginal people or papau new Guinea natives, I can't remember. He was unfazed by it and said they had no ill will. How are race relations and issues such as respecting other cultures generally looked at in your country and does the media do anything to help educate the citizens?

gorgich77 karma

Russia is fairly diverse. There are majority-indigenous regions, as well as majority-Muslim and majority-Buddhist ones. My state in the very South-West is a huge melting pot, and here there's relatively little racism in daily life.

Weirdly enough, if you go up North, it's different. Whenever I go to Moscow which is a global-ass city I face a lot of subtle but annoying discrimination for looking (and being) non-Slavic. I totally know I'm not the only one.

I'm sure there are countries where it's worse, but Russia definitely has to improve a lot in this regard.

Black people specifically are fairly rare here, so they're often ignored even when talking about racism. Most people here are either Northern European-like, or Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-looking, or East Asian-looking. In a lot of Russia all groups but the first face racism. But then there are in fact majority-Asian parts of the country where White people face some discrimination.

Other groups like Africans or, say, Native Americans are so rare that they're hardly ever discussed.

zerotakashi29 karma

Does Crimea belong to Ukrainians or Russia and why?

WB other areas in Eastern Ukraine with large Russian populations?

gorgich64 karma

Definitely Ukrainian, because breaking international law is bad per se, and the annexation caused way more negative than positive things.

William_Harzia28 karma

How do you feel about Nekrasov's the Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes?

I watched it, thought it was compelling, and then went on to read all these criticisms in which Nekrasov was painted as Putin apologist and Kremlin stooge. What do you think the truth is?

gorgich34 karma

Weirdly enough, I haven't watched it. Will check it out when I'm not too busy replying to the questions here and get back to you!

Slavaskii25 karma

Доброе утро, спасибо большое за это вопросы-ответы!

I frequently visit Minsk and have heard troubling news about the Union State agreement which, as I understand, could be finalized as early as 2024. Yesterday I attended a conference in DC explicitly about this which discussed the large amount of influence the Kremlin is exerting upon Belarus in order to ensure this is a success.

Do you believe integration between the two nations is a likely scenario, and if so, how important will the Russian media be in this? As I understand Putin's interest in creating a 'new internet' would allow for the censoring of pro-western platforms (such as Facebook and Instagram) in favor of ВК и Одноклассники, and if Belarus is 'absorbed' into this network, their chances at resistance is impossible. Is the annexation of Belarus a necessary strategic goal for Putin that you see as an inevitable way to keep him in power?

Ещё раз спасибо)

gorgich40 karma

I also visit Belarus frequently and I wouldn't say Belarus and Russia are getting closer these days. I'd say it's the opposite, actually. The real probability of Belarus and Russia becoming one country seems very low, and the internet thing doesn't even affect Russia proper at this point, so I doubt it will have much influence on Belarus either.

Slavaskii9 karma

Very interesting, thank you!

gorgich22 karma

You’re welcome! I’d like to add that the recent hype around Belarus apparently becoming a part of Russia was basically made up by Western media and is mostly unknown in both Russia and Belarus.

Also, I’m curious why you’re visiting Belarus, if that’s not too personal?

bipolarnotsober24 karma

You've mentioned Chechnya a few times now and mentioned you would be dead if you lived there. What makes it so dangerous? Sorry if I come across as oblivious.

gorgich46 karma

It is an absolute-majority-minority region that was at war with Russia proper twice since the USSR fell apart, and now functions like an almost fully independent country only formally being a part of Russia. It's run by fundamentally Muslim and incredibly conservative mafia clans who torture LGBTQ rights activists and burn houses of people who criticize the regional government. It's like 10x or 100x more dictatorship-like than Russia proper.

realazorahai24 karma

Is it pretty safe to travel to Russia for an American?

gorgich77 karma

Yep, absolutely. Even people who dislike the West politically are fairly friendly and curious to ordinary people from there in most cases. General safety-wise (danger of pickpocketing, getting robbed or something) Russia is very similar to most of Europe, probably even safer than a fair share of it. The only time in my life I faced street violence and almost got beaten up by strangers was in fact abroad, in Portugal.

TWCSwagger9 karma

Hello, I've been reading your AMA enthusiaticly and I came across this. I'm Portuguese and we're, as a country, known for being quite safe to everyone. And since I doubt the violence you're speaking of was nightlife related (which would be my first guess in most cases), mind if I ask what happened, out of curiosity?

gorgich17 karma

I’m in fact learning Portuguese and would be happy to respond to you in your language but it takes me longer to phrase things in it than it does in English, so I’ll resort to the latter because I’m fucking tired after this huge AMA. Later I’ll be happy to talk to you in Portuguese about Russia or whatever you want for some practice though, if you’d be willing!

The violence thing wasn’t too harsh really. Could’ve happened anywhere but it happened when I was walking around Bairro Alto in Lisbon at night with two local friends. A Black guy approached us and asked for a cigarette, as he saw I was smoking. I pulled the pack out of my pocket to give him one, and he just grabbed the whole pack and started laughing.

I was like “weird flex but ok”, I brought the cigs from Russia anyway where they cost like under €2 a pack, so it really wasn’t worth arguing.

One of my Portuguese friends, however, got really mad at the guy for stealing my pack and started saying how the fucker should’ve been nicer to a foreigner and stuff. Then a bunch of other Angolans appeared out of nowhere and started yelling and throwing threats, one of them punched my mate and we had to run away from them.

ChornWork223 karma

Have Russians accepted that Putin will be in charge indefinitely? If so (and I assume so, but thought worse asking), was there a moment/event that led a lot of people to this realization? And was that a catalyst to more opposition to him, or just acceptance of the situation?

gorgich44 karma

Most people kinda know it likely is so, but many don't like it and hope it still changes somehow.

I don't think there was a specific event, no. Just a gradual realization really.

ChornWork212 karma

was the medvedev presidency recognized as a sham at the outset?

gorgich30 karma

Some people hoped it would change things for the better, even knowing about his close relations with Putin, but quite quickly most people realized nothing would change at all.

Xyrxes122 karma

Is krokodil still a big problem? I watched a vice documentary on it and that was beyond fucked up.

gorgich60 karma

It was never as big as portrayed by some foreign media, many Russians haven’t even heard of it I guess. Even heroin is much more of a problem, and alcoholism even more so.

composurereboot21 karma

So I work and live in the United States, and we work with a freelance artist from Russia. This freelancer is a student, and has told me about how their university forced then to vote for Putin. And it was strongly implied that their future at the university was on the line.

I studied print journalism years ago and wrote for a paper for a while so I'm fascinated by this. I would love to interview them and share their story, but would hate too jeopardize their safety. Are my worries valid? If so, what's a safe way to tell their story?

gorgich35 karma

You definitely worry too much! Just don’t mention their names and it’s going to be fine. Maybe also name the city but not the specific university in it, if they ask for that.

fromRonnie18 karma

How popular is Garry Kasparov (the former chess world champion) compared to Putin, and who would win an election between them?

gorgich48 karma

Most people barely know anything about him except being good at chess and wouldn't even consider him an alternative.

doingthehumptydance15 karma

2 questions:

  1. What's the tone of people in the Crimean peninsula after Russia annexed it. I have heard that the people there welcomed the annexation and are happier now, but I take that kind of news with a grain of salt.

  2. If Putin is ever overthrown, what are the chanced of Robert Kraft getting his Super bowl ring back?

Thanks for doing this.

gorgich29 karma

  1. I think it was like 70% to 80% support from locals when the annexation happened, and more like 50% vs 50% these days. Haven't been there after the annexation, but that's what I hear from one guy from my city who moved there and friends who went there and hanged out with locals.

  2. I have no idea :)

cxalva712 karma

What are your views on the religious freedom and most recently the Jehovah witnesses being labeled as extremists?

gorgich21 karma

It's another instance of our government being totally fucked up. Religious freedom is a need.

mackenzor11 karma

How would you compare Putin to Trump?

gorgich61 karma

Both are dickheads, but Putin is at least smart and consistent, sort of.

sandleaz11 karma

Privet. Do you think that Russian trolls are responsible for electing politicians?

gorgich27 karma

Pretty sure it was one of the factors but nowhere near the main one.

abatchofbread11 karma

Is Russia facing any immigration problems?

gorgich27 karma

Thanks for the silver!

We do have immigration, but not immigration problems, I think. I mean for the country as a whole it isn't problematic. But it is often problematic for the immigrants themselves.

My region has been a melting pot for ages and is internally diverse as hell, so recent immigrants mix in well and don't face much discrimination.

It's very different in most of Russia though, and weirdly enough even in Moscow, which, although being a huge and sort of globalized city, tends to be incredibly racist in daily life. You can even see ads of apartments for rent where the landlord openly says "will only consider Russian citizens" or sometimes even "will only consider Slavic people" (basically euphemism for White). Cops on Moscow subway often single out Asian or Middle Eastern people from the crowd and stop them to rudely ask to show their ID to make sure they're staying in Russia legally. Some may even ask you to show what's in your pockets or wallet, hoping to find drugs. It's not even legal for cops to ask for that, but the folk they stop often don't know much about the law or are just too afraid to refuse. And that's just the top of the iceberg, so much shit happens there, and not just to immigrants but also to Russia's very own indigenous peoples and other minorities. To myself when I go to Moscow too, as I'm not Slavic either. Nothing like that in my city, thankfully.

funfu10 karma

What is happening to the Caspian Sea?

gorgich23 karma

Uhm, nothing? I don’t know but I live next to it!

funfu9 karma

How can anti putin media generate income? It is possible to attract advertisement or other support from commercial interests?

gorgich24 karma

Meduza, one of the anti-Putin media outlets I write for and mentioned in the OP, is actually the most cited news source on Russian social media websites, which means it gets more readers online than any pro-Putin media. So, sure, they do get a fair share of advertisement in all forms: banners, partner articles etc.

grim_hawk8 karma

Why would you dox yourself with proof?

gorgich30 karma

Because this sub requires posting a proof and I don't feel like it was worth doing it privately through the modmail. I've mentioned my magazine and at least first name on Reddit before, and my Reddit username also appears on other social media like Instagram, so...

sleepingsysadmin7 karma

What is your opinion on the gulag archipelago?

gorgich22 karma

I have to admit I only read the first part of the book, but it was good. Nice writing style, interesting and important topic. I know it's often criticized for being not entirely facts-based, but Solzhenitsyn definitely did a good job by just bringing the topic as a whole to attention of both Russian and foreign public.

goodbetterbestbested6 karma

How do you have such good English? You use idioms and slang in your comments that I wouldn't imagine anyone but an American, or someone who lived here a long time, would use.

gorgich7 karma

Copying my previous reply to the same question:

Thanks a lot for the evaluation :)

I was lucky to have a surprisingly decent English teacher by public school standards and then went to one of the few liberal and West-oriented universities in Russia. My mom also is an English teacher, so there’s that too. Reddit and just internet in general also helped, I guess, as well as some traveling.

tweak05 karma

As an American, it seems like the Russian people have allowed themselves to be used by one demagogue or another for over a century. Do you think that's ever going to change?

Also, I've always wanted to take a long train ride through northern Europa and Asia. Do you think that'd be a dumb idea?

gorgich4 karma

I can’t say for sure if it changes soon but I definitely hope it does.

Russia is an awesome place to visit, and it has tons of cool stuff beyond Moscow and St Pete. That being said, trains are boring. You just see forest or desert from your window and are stuck in a carriage, likely not too comfy, with a bunch of Russians, sometimes loud and annoying. Flying is very cheap and just better in my opinion. Road trips too.

tweak03 karma

If you'll pardon me two followup questions:

What, if any, help would you ask of other countries to see that change happen?

Would you recommend a road trip as opposed to a train trip then? I'm looking for peace and open space.

gorgich3 karma

I have no ready answer to the first one but it's an interesting question, I'll think about it and get back to you if something interesting pops into my head :)

Yeah, road trips around Russia are great, I recommend that!

Hodorgasm5 karma

Did you enjoy the movie Borat?

gorgich14 karma

Yep, it's pretty fun. I like The Dictator starring the same guy even more though.

TheDJ9555 karma

Hi! Half-Russian/Englishman here. Have you been to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast? If so, could or would you make a story about how Jews are the minority there since most moved to Israel?

gorgich15 karma

I haven't yet, but I'd love to go, it's def on my bucket list! Sounds like a good idea for an article, thanks a lot: )

If I ever get there, I'm definitely writing about it.

funkseoulbrotha4 karma

Living in the States, I hear from our news media of Russian hooligans attacking and harrassing non-caucasians. If I were to walk in your city, will I be met with prejudice(I'm Korean by the way)?

gorgich21 karma

Here, not at all, but my city is a big exception. I’m from a very diverse area where like 40% aren’t Slavic/White and most of those 40% are Asian. Here you’d totally fit in, and the area just has very little racism because of having been a melting pot for ages.

Other parts of Russia, including Moscow, are way more racist on average, but racism is almost entirely limited to “familiar” peoples, i. e. Russia’s own minorities and immigrants from the ex-USSR, most notably countries like Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Once people realize you’re a “total” foreigner from nowhere near the general region, even the racist fucks will turn friendly and curious in most cases.

mart13733 karma

What do you think you life expectancy is, now that you’ve publicly announced you’re against Putin (AKA: your death sentence)?

gorgich17 karma

The first time I publicly announced that was years ago :)

Hermit-Man3 karma

Do the majority of Russians actually believe Putin's BS or are they oblivious, apathetic, brainwashed, or nationalized?

gorgich6 karma

I’d say 25% really dislike him, 25% really like, and 50% are indifferent of the “we won’t protest until we’re starving & we can’t change anything anyway & Putin isn’t very good but I don’t see any alternatives, so...” kind.

howhao19992 karma

I have a question about Russian society. Why do I hear a lot of stories about girls getting married in their early twenties and having kids in their mid twenties? Was that a thing in the Soviet Union? Russia has also one the highest divorce rates because of infidelity what do you think is the cause of this?

gorgich13 karma

Yeah, it's common to marry early. Idk why, maybe just overall conservativeness of many population groups. Divorce rates are sad. My parents are also divorced.

kapa7762 karma

If you had the chance to be a different nationality, which nationality would you pick? (Also, I feel sorry for you, because I myself despise Russia, although for historic reasons rather than current ones.)

gorgich13 karma

If you had the chance to be a different nationality, which nationality would you pick?

Seriously, something very close. Kazakhstani, maybe

I really love everything about my part of Russia: landscapes, architecture, people, mentality, food. Everything but politics.

I live just one hour drive away from Kazakhstan, so living there wouldn't change that much.

If I could get some sexy first world passport that would allow me travel pretty much anywhere visa-free, but I could still live here, I'd also take the offer!

KickAssMiles2 karma

What's cooler than being cool?

gorgich3 karma

Winter in Northern Russia.

reallyageek2 karma

How open are people in expressing their beliefs?

gorgich12 karma

Fairly open, it's not North Korea or something.

Hung-S0-Low2 karma

Hi, I am curious have never gotten a journalist's answer for this question. Are Russians generally racist?

gorgich4 karma

I'll copy two previous comments of mine on the topic.

Answering a question by a Korean American if they'd be unsafe here:

Here, not at all, but my city is a big exception. I’m from a very diverse area where like 40% aren’t Slavic/White and most of those 40% are Asian. Here you’d totally fit in, and the area just has very little racism because of having been a melting pot for ages.

Other parts of Russia, including Moscow, are way more racist on average, but racism is almost entirely limited to “familiar” peoples, i. e. Russia’s own minorities and immigrants from the ex-USSR, most notably countries like Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Once people realize you’re a “total” foreigner from nowhere near the general region, even the racist fucks will turn friendly and curious in most cases.

Answering a question about immigration problems:

We do have immigration, but not immigration problems, I think. I mean for the country as a whole it isn't problematic. But it is often problematic for the immigrants themselves.

My region has been a melting pot for ages and is internally diverse as hell, so recent immigrants mix in well and don't face much discrimination.

It's very different in most of Russia though, and weirdly enough even in Moscow, which, although being a huge and sort of globalized city, tends to be incredibly racist in daily life. You can even see ads of apartments for rent where the landlord openly says "will only consider Russian citizens" or sometimes even "will only consider Slavic people" (basically euphemism for White). Cops on Moscow subway often single out Asian or Middle Eastern people from the crowd and stop them to rudely ask to show their ID to make sure they're staying in Russia legally. Some may even ask you to show what's in your pockets or wallet, hoping to find drugs. It's not even legal for cops to ask for that, but the folk they stop often don't know much about the law or are just too afraid to refuse. And that's just the top of the iceberg, so much shit happens there, and not just to immigrants but also to Russia's very own indigenous peoples and other minorities. To myself when I go to Moscow too, as I'm not Slavic either. Nothing like that in my city, thankfully.