Mudcat Café message #3392011 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #146443   Message #3392011
Posted By: Rob Naylor
18-Aug-12 - 07:45 PM
Thread Name: Free the Pussy Riot Three
Subject: RE: Free the Pussy Riot Three
Well I'm over here in Sakhalin (Russian Far East) at the moment, working. The trial and outcome have been debated in the news here, at least, and locals are not averse to giving an opinion (I've had all sorts, from condemnation of the sentences to "stupid girls, what did they expect?"). There was a robust debate yesterday among a group of mainly Russian acquaintances in Gagarin Park, including a local member of the FSB (successor of KGB!). That's a huge difference from when I was first in the Soviet Union back in 1984, where as independent travellers our hotel room was bugged, we were followed everywhere we went and kept away as much as possible from locals.

Not saying it's perfect here, by any means, and my daughter almost got beaten up by a member of OMON in St Petersburg a few months ago, just for *watching* a demo....but it's a lot freer here than it was, and a lot freer than many people think it is. I hear Putin being slagged off all the time by locals, with no apparent fear of being overheard, or carted off somewhere.

Now the bureaucracy....that's something else: Take the worst part of French government tape, ally it to British civil service inefficiency of execution and multiply it by a factor of 10, and your somewhere close.