Russia: A Letter to Putin

Global Voices Online
Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's a letter-writing season in Russia.

LJ user yashin posted an appeal (translated here) to the judge who had given a harsh sentence to an activist for placing a banner saying “Putin, go away on your own” on Hotel Rossiya in Moscow.

LJ user aneta_spb has come up with a letter (RUS) to president Vladimir Putin himself, and for a while, it was one of the highest-ranked posts at the Yangex Blogs portal. Below is a rough translation:

Here, I've written a letter to the president.

Gospodin [Mr.] Putin!

Or, Gospodin President of [the Russian Federation].

I, a rank-and-file citizen of the Russian Federation, Gavrilina Svetlana Dmitrievna, have started writing this letter to you and became puzzled right away.

For some reason, addressing you the way I did is considered impolite. The polite way is "Vladimir Vladimirovich." Or "[dear] respected Vladimir Vladimirovich." This takes aback right away. Because I can use the first name and patronymic to address an uncle twice removed or an old high school teacher, etc. But when I'm writing to the head of the state - that is, to a person who is not related to me in any way personally, but is placed in this position by the will of the people and lives on the people's money, and I'm part of this people (even though I didn't vote for this character)... In Great Britain, I wouldn't write "dear Tony," right, or in the States, "dear George"? And in the times of the Czar, so beloved by many of your brothers-in-arms, they didn't write "Nikolay Aleksandrovich" or "Aleksandr Nikolaevich" - but "Your Majesty" or "Sovereign." Title, function...

In any case, there is something in the word gospodin... But we're talking about a form of address here - wouldn't fit to call you tovarishch [comrade], right?..

Whatever, done with the addressing part, sort of. Now, on to the essence.

As I've stated above, I didn't vote for you. But it absolutely doesn't matter. Let's have flies and cutlets separately. Those who vote or not, those who [make big money] or not, those who [get their salaries from the state budget] or work for private [entities] or for themselves - in any case, we are the tax-payers. We buy a loaf of bread - [and pay a value-added tax]. And if not a loaf of bread, then a piece of meat, [clothing], a fridge, a tram ticket, a cell phone operator's services... Everyone has the right to vote or not vote. Because we are all humans, alive, and for now it is not up to you to deprive us of the right to live and breathe.

Anyway, since you've been installed into your position on our money, I'm writing you. Because in a normal country, it would have been enough for me to address a municipal elected official with the issues I'm concerned about. But [you know] what a farce has the so-called local self-government turned into.

[...] I actually this that you impressed the great Russia with, above all, your pure, St. Petersburg, pronunciation, without hek-ing and ok-ing, after all the previous Leonid Ilyichs [Brezhnev], Yeltsins and [Chernomyrdins]... Though, at one point, [Andropov] conquered many weak souls with the same thing, too. Ah well, [I digress] again.

Here's why I'm writing to you. I find you annoying. Not really you, the person, but all this disgusting pharisaism, improprieties and the lies that literally get under one's skin - and everywhere, there's corruption of society worse than during the Soviet times.

I live in the city of St. Petersburg, at [Okhta].

And here, they are going to dig a tunnel and build a skyscraper. Your faithful [...] [Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko], has once again totally ignored the city residents' protest. [...] They are going to worsen the people's life quality, which is already not too good. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that you aren't aware of it. One reason [I don't believe it] is because you haven't yet refuted the rumors that for a while, after you've installed the "successor," you're planning to have some rest at the post of [Gazprom]'s head...

This is really interesting. Excuse me, are you an expert in gas extraction? A professional? Or is there a putsch going on now, invisible to the world, when this Gazprom is basically seizing power in the country? While the majority of the villages are not equipped to receive gas?

Do you know what people are talking about? They are saying that the government's goal is to just destroy the population, because they don't need so many people to serve the pipe... Some people, out of stupidity, see [non-Russians] behind it, others see "the hand of America," but despite this, people do have intuition.

You know, I left the big politics a long time ago. I'm not interested in the party hustle, I'm a modest person and have never been too interested in my own career. And if they didn't try to get me right by the door of my own apartment, I'd be quietly reading good books and listening to good music.

But I'm annoyed by the billboards at the St. Petersburg-Moscow highway: [UNITED RUSSIA] TOGETHER WITH THE PRESIDENT! ([I'm annoyed] because it's like "Long live the [CPSU]!") I don't like it when there's a public transportation paralysis in my favorite city. I don't like it when [towns and villages] in the European part of the Russian Federation are cut off from the civilized world - roads are broken down, phone connection is terrible, and there is no internet whatsoever... I don't like the disgusting bootlicking in the media. Do you really think that people pray to you as they do in front of an icon? If every type of official has your portrait in his study, it doesn't mean that your portraits hang in people's homes... If you find one idiot like this, I think all the central media would show up and do stories...

Do you think that people pile up in big cities voluntarily? Deprive themselves of fresh air and nature? Look into the federal laws that you've signed - and then you'll understand why only thanks to autostores [...] there's still some life out there... And the money being thrown into the construction of the tunnel and Gazprom-City would suffice, for example, to build a new bridge in Veliky Novgorod and to mend the roads in the north-west...

I understand perfectly well that all my questions and exclamations are rhetorical. [...] Because [...] in the first years of your rule, I was still trying to find a compromise... And thus I learned all the mechanisms and the style of your regime.

...And also, your rhetoric drives me mad. The theme of the "czar" and "master" is being beaten into the country's conscience. [...]

Things like this don't end well, I'd like to remind you. [...]

Anyway, leave us alone with your Gazprom. You're a person of age [Putin is 54]. Lenin was already a "dedushka" [old man] at your age. It's time to think of your soul.

I end this halfway through. Please note that I haven't used the words "democracy," "human rights," "free enterprise," etc. Because it's not nice to use the words unfamiliar to the person you're talking to.

Here are a couple comments:

mgtverskoy: Svetlana, "dedushka" Lenin didn't survive to this age. He died before turning 54, and VVP has already passed that.

Are we sending this by regular mail?

aneta_spb: I emailed it. Would be too much honor to bother about an envelope.


lgdanko: You are wonderful in your genuine naivete or naive ingenuousness. I'll distribute this. Even if the Colonel [Putin] doesn't read it - let the people read it.

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