An American-bashing vacation in Moscow


Katya brought along her camera to document the protesters' agenda (which turned out to be nebulous discontent directed at America). "It interests me how the government brainwashes the youth," she says.

I finally had my first run-in with Nashi (“Ours”), that foreigner-bashing, Putin-loving, sex camp-organizing government-sponsored Russian youth movement, and even lived to tell the tale.

Nashi and its “Dobrovolnaya molodyozhnaya dryzhina” (“Volunteer youth brigade”) organized yesterday’s “American show” protest outside the American consulate here in Moscow, which I checked out with a couple Russian friends.  Buses were parked up and down the block, having brought in massive amounts of youth from the provinces.

It wasn’t clear exactly what the protest was about (the announcement on enigmatically reads “You will find out what the real American show means”), but the theme definitely centered around some sort of vague, anti-American rhetoric.  Attendees were asked to bring pumpkins — Halloween is indeed celebrated in Russia, mainly by nighttime revelers — which were then supposedly going to be decorated with the names of Iraq War victims.

The mysterious

The mysterious protest pumpkins, which were somehow related to the Iraq War.

I kept a low profile given the high number of xenophobes and policemen (also often unfriendly to foreigners), but my friend Katya was luckily up to the task of ferreting out the motivating factor for these young protesters.

Besides a free vacation to Moscow, there wasn’t much of one.  The first “chuvak” (dude) we asked said he was protesting war and especially the wars for which America is responsible.  The second cited the world economic crisis caused by the U.S.A.

“If Europe is also shown to be responsible, would you protest against Europe?” our intrepid citizen reporter inquired.

“I don’t know, it’s all the same to me.”

“And how is the economic crisis connected to the names on the pumpkins?”

“I have to go.”

Admittedly, the U.S.A. is no angel.  But especially now that the ruble is falling, it’s just a convenient scapegoat.

Almost any Russian who actually knows Americans seems to disagree with such comfortably ill-defined hatred.  As Katya said, “No country is all bad or all good.”  But when so many of the next generation here think otherwise, and do so with the Russian government’s wholehearted support, it’s clear we’re careening toward another Cold War-style cultural conflict.

As evinced by the “American Show” video on the Web site, the cheesy propaganda has already arrived … but more on this in the next post.


2 Responses to “An American-bashing vacation in Moscow”

  1. It’s worrisome that Russian youth is protesting the U.S. but the three sagging pumpkins make the whole thing seem pretty pathetic. Is this the extent of the protests or is there more behind it?

  2. I’m a Russian American living in California (immersed in many different cultures here). As a liberal, I refrain from bashing any nation. Although the U.S. is not an angel (just like Russia never was), I am grateful for the opportunity it gave my family. I love both nations regardless of their faults. Bashing isn’t going to get anyone anywhere but another Cold War. Plus, the pumpkin thing is pathetic, I agree.

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