This is what I will miss most about Russia

Alexei Sorokin
4 min readMar 7, 2022

The final week of February of 2022 marked the end of Russia.

A very clickbait way to describe the outcome of Russia’s war on Ukraine, I know. Russia survived this and that you might say, over its long and turbulent history.

Well, no.

Russia, “as we know it” (I hate using this cliche expression) is no longer. It will not survive Putin.

Sure, it will metamorphose into some new form and shape, reorient towards Asia probably, but it’s too poor to stay meaningful; it’s too untrustworthy to belong to any serious international community. It was poor already, despite some progress in recent decades and the perception of stability (note — perception, not stability) and over the last few days, it lost it all. Three decades of struggles and attempts to find a path from a dysfunctional system to a prosperous state — all gone, like in Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd:

The child is grown

The dream is lost

Maybe because there was never any attempt to build a prosperous nation in the first place. There was instead an attempt to recreate the illusion of power and strength, mainly in the form of war machines and weapons that had existed already anyway (and never made the nation strong or prosperous).

I’m Russian. I’ve spent more than half of my life away from Russia, but I’m Russian. I have many memories from my years in Russia. My wife is Russian. I have many dear friends and relatives in Russia. I don’t miss Russia but I can never forget my past love for Moscow, my home city; my dream — in my younger years — to be part of Russia’s new future.

The child is grown

The dream is lost

So what will I remember most?

I’m sure most of my Russian connection would rage about what I’m about to say.

I miss the 1990s, the Yeltsin era. It was the most turbulent epoch in modern Russia’s history — full of economic and political turmoil and corruption. Russia’s transition from the planned system to a market economy was extremely painful. Most Russians hold Yeltsin responsible for the mess of the 1990s and the murky privatizations that created the oligarch class.

I am more empathetic. I think Yeltsin faced was the challenge of unparalleled, incredible complexity — to transform the economy from one system to another and that…

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Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. https://runningwritingliving.substack.com/