Russia’s fallout with the West had been going on long before the war in Ukraine. I have a chat group with my close Russian friends and several times they complained how Russia is always at fault, especially in the media. That’s generally true but I always noted to them that geopolitical tensions aside I personally have never experienced any Russophobia as an immigrant in the US. And by never I mean NEVER — not in personal life, not in business; not myself, not my kids. I can’t speak for Europe and the UK, but in America I’ve felt nothing but respect and empathy. I have, by the way, a habit of always mentioning that I’m Russian, when I introduce myself. There is no profound logic behind this habit. If anything, it’s a bit of an insecurity. Despite having lived in America and England for many years, I still have a slight accent.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is such a tectonic event that inevitably I do — for the first time in my life — feel true shame about my roots. It’s hard to say these days “I’m Russian”.
Still, even now, as weeks go by, I can attest again — I don’t see signs of Russophobia. Granted, my social circle in America is narrow. The people I interact with — whether my friends or new acquaintances — are not likely to ever show any “phobia” against anyone. For them “diversity” is not a buzzword. They are multi-cultural, multi-racial; they come from different walks of life and often international backgrounds.
But I don’t think I’m privileged in not experiencing Russophobia. I don’t think there is Russophobia, at least not at the level of every day human interactions. How it is in politics or big business — I don’t know.
This is a very profound observation. Why? Because the Russians in Russia are fed anti-West propaganda every day. They expect the West to hate them, as human beings, as a nation. That’s so not true.
My classmate from my Russian school from decades ago posted this today on her social media. She is a journalist, now living in Rome.
Translated from Russian (Google Translate, a bit rough in places, sorry for being lazy!):
There is no Russophobia in the West as it is described in Russia. I have long wanted to write about this, from the first days of the “special operation” and from the first fakes from our authorities, about how Russian students are expelled from foreign universities. Unfortunately, the topic does not…