Russian writer and journalist Arkady Babchenko, who has been doing some unflattering and atmospheric reporting about the Chechnyan wars, published a satirical "open letter to the Crimeans" titled Welcome to Russia!
this weekend in The Daily News
, the biggest morning newspaper of Stockholm. I think it was written or translated exclusively for the paper, haven't seen it published anywhere else, and it's a hilarious and dark run-down of Putin's regime and the implications of joining Russia for ordinary people in Crimea. Here's the opening part and a bit from further into the piece:WELCOME TO RUSSIA!
So happy to see you – and allow us to send our heartfelt congratulations to you on the last referendum of your lives. Trust me, there will be no more. You will see no more queries for your free choice – never and on nothing. Not even on the colouring of the borders to your own back yard. Remember where you heard it first.
Point the second, you can kiss your own television goodbye. Bye bye live transmissions, talk shows and true debate programmes. Say hello to fearmongering, dead bodies, loonies and joking about peeing and gender. Hardcore propaganda instead of news! And extra hours with Putin’s own exclusive monologues.
Third point: conscripted army service, which is a chapter of its own. Over the last twenty-three years you had forgotten what military occupation is like: it means your children getting called up for service in wars that don’t have anything to do with you. But hey, so what? You’ll soon remember what it felt like. Especially when kids in our – sorry, make that your
– army begin to die from diseases that young, healthy people in other parts of the world haven’t died from over the last century. Pneumonia, for instance. They were used to the Crimean terrain but will be sent to serve far away on the isle of Kunazhir, on the shores of the subarctic Pacific. - It might also be a good idea to check out what the “Caucasus force” have tattooed into their clean shaved skulls.
Why, I almost forgot to give you this link: http://mright.hro.org
. It’s to the Foundation for Mothers’ Rights, which for two decades has been offering assistance and legal support to mothers of young conscripted soldiers killed during their term of service. Out of such Russian soldiers killed during that time, 20 percent were suicides, 20 percent “enforced or prompted suicide”, 25 percent diseases and 5 percent abused or beaten to death.
I guess you already met our Cossacks? Handsome young men, are they not? But it’s almost nothing, guys. You haven’t met our priests yet. Oh by the way, there’s a state funded campaign in build-up phase to increase spirituality in the people and to further religious feelings of togetherness. The tagline being “A church on every estate plot”. You may have thought you’d get a kindergarten or a road crossing, but you’re getting a church instead in those places. Yup, that’s how it’s run around here. Opposite my house they are building a new church instead of repairing the broken traffic lights. There are queues and jams every morning but never mind the street crossing, dear friends! A church is what we need and nothing else. Oh by the way, you're the ones who will have the honour of paying for the effort.