March 07, 2014

7 Ways Not to Protest the Occupation of Crimea


7 Ways Not to Protest the Occupation of Crimea

Russia’s occupation cum annexation of Crimea is a tragedy no matter how you slice the salami tactics. One just wants to protest, boycott, DO something. But what? Well, like President Obama and the EU, we’re coming up a bit short on the list of feasible and effective sanctions. But here are a few things we recommend NOT doing.

  1. Boycotting Vodka. Yes, Russia invented vodka (don’t tell the Poles). And they export a lot of it around the world, including to the US. But boycotting vodka, or even making the drastic personal sacrifice to drink only non-Russian vodka, is not going to be more than a drop in the proverbial vedro. What is more, the good Russian vodka you can buy in the US is made by private companies, and chances are they, like most of the Russian business world, is anti-conflict. So please oh please don’t pour vodka in the streets again, it just makes us cry.
  2. Ritual Matryoshka Burning. Spring is coming, and I know that up here in Vermont we are itching for a nice big, warm bonfire (if we can find the fire pit beneath all the snow). And a fire fits right in with Russian Spring Traditions. But the matryoshki didn’t occupy Ukraine, so why punish them? Besides, if you torch them, the Ukrainian pysanki are going to be lonely on your Colorful Folkcrafts From Around the World shelf. Perhaps most importantly, we’re willing to bet those little mothers were not painted with eco-friendly paint, and you wouldn’t want to be breathing their flame-licked fumes. So step away from the nested dolls.
  3. Posting Anti-Russian Tirades on Facebook. If we have to explain the futility and incivility of this, well...
  4. Boycotting Russian Companies. As I pointed out in this space during the Snowden Affair, this is harder than it sounds. Unless you have a Gazprom pipe feeding the line into your basement, it’s pretty difficult to find a worthy boycottee. The world economy has just become so intertwined and complicated – as Obama et al are discovering – that any economic sanction aimed at Russia has as much chance of exploding in one’s face as it does of hitting the target. Better bet: buy anything Ukrainian you can get your hands on. Zubrowka anyone?
  5. Boycotting the NHL. Ok, sure, there are loads of Russians in the NHL, but, like the matryoshki, they didn’t occupy Ukraine either. Besides, the US and Canada both beat the Russian team in the Olympics, so isn’t that punishment enough?  
  6. Cancelling Your Trip to Russia. Bad idea. Traveling in Russia will give you the opportunity to meet Russians, discuss this and other issues with them, and basically become better informed on this, something you can share with others when you return. In fact, perhaps the current situation in Crimea will cause NBC to carry more of the Paralympics in Sochi. One can only hope. Those athletes deserve the exposure!
  7. Cancelling Your Russian Life Subscription. Now wait just a gosh darn minute! Is it our name? Did that confuse you? If so, we hasten to remind you that the word “Russian” in our title is descriptive of our content, not our allegiances or origins. In fact, our [American owned] magazine has zero connection with the Russian government, and we rarely agree with what the Russian government gets up to before, during or after hours. So cancelling Russian Life because you disagree with the Russian government’s actions would be like cancelling your TIME subscription because you loathe Congress. If anything, more people need to be reading more about Russia, not less. But then you knew I’d end up there, didn’t you?
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955