Is it true, what they write about Russia in the newspapers?

Meanwhile, I have just remembered a thing that was sitting in my Google Drive that I could post here. A few weeks ago I stumbled on a post in my facebook feed that really resonated with my own thoughts that I am trying to express when asked about living in Russia. Not that I get asked a lot. I just tend to gravitate towards this topic and, I guess, I just constantly have this list of reasons I always wanted to leave so much in my head. That nobody cares about anyway. Oh well. Didn’t stop me from spending an hour translating this post to English.

Here is the original:

And the translation:

How I stopped protecting the Russian Federation

Every time I meet a new person here, they ask me if it’s true that everything is as bad in Russia as the newspapers write.

And in the newspapers, if someone does not know, Russia is painted as a mash-up of Hackers and The Godfather. The picture for a Russian person is in some sense even flattering, but, of course, having almost no relation to reality.

  • What are you talking about, – I reply – everything is fine with us. The people are completely normal, not monsters. Walk around Moscow in the summer morning. Fountains bloom right into the sky. It is not true at all, what they say.

And here, of course, the person asks “how.” How can it be normal when you have such an authoritarian regime and the stifling of freedoms.

  • We actually have more freedoms than you have, – I say. – you just don’t understand.
  • Well, for sure there are rules that cannot be broken, – they say.
  • Well, you have such rules, – I say. – they are called laws. Handy thing.
  • But surely there are others, – they say.
  • Look, – I say. – This is how it works. There are written rules that can not be broken — these are laws. There are unwritten rules that cannot be broken — these are traditions or, if you like, principles. But you, I am sure, have them too.

By this I, of course, back them into the corner, but here they ask why nobody likes us.

  • They fear – I say. – because Russia is a country in which quantum mechanics defeated Newtonian physics at  macro level. And people are afraid of everything unfamiliar if it is impossible to quickly heat food in it.

This thesis obviously requires some explanation.

  • Well, look, – I say. – There are rules that can not be broken. There are rules that can be broken, but not by you. Everything still seems to be simple, right?
  • Yeah.
  • But here is a tricky moment. Sometimes you can break rules you don’t know about, but ignorance of the rules does not exempt a person from the responsibility. As with the laws.
  • Still with you.
  • And sometimes you can break the rules, which simply did not exist. No one thought about these rules until you broke them. But you broke them, and everyone knew right away that you had crossed the line.
  • But if they were not …
  • Yes, it is very inconvenient, because you have to use the old rules in order to punish for breaking new ones. But justice is above the formality.
  • Ok…
  • Besides, – I say, – remember that some rules could not be broken, but not all? So, one day you can wake up, behave as usual, and then find out that the rules you could violate yesterday, now you can’t violate. This can usually be ascertained only after a violation.
  • But this is for sure, – they say to me, – only concerns the elites? Does an ordinary person hardly come across such things?
  • Why did you think that? – I say. – everybody, in general, are in equal conditions. Unpredictability is spread out evenly. Generally speaking, the rules are not a system-forming factor for our country. You can’t break anything at all, but you still get punished. Because the system-forming factor in Russia is complete uncertainty.
  • For example?
  • Well, for example, – I say, – you are an orphan and a disabled person. You are not very lucky. You live in an orphanage. Due to the limitations described, you cannot break any serious rules. and then one day somebody decides to adopt you. There are parents who are ready to take you as you are and take care of you. And you are already getting packed, when suddenly a new rule appears, according to which your new parents cannot take you away, because they are citizens of another country, and we do not have enough people with disabilities ourselves. You did nothing for it, it was not your fault at all.
  • But why?
  • Well, first of all because of uncertainty and unpredictability. But if you are interested in prehistory, then, in brief, there is one dude who died in a Russian prison, the Americans decided that he was killed and the people who were involved in his death were denied entry, and we in turn forbade the adoption of orphans by Americans.
  • So did he die or was he killed?
  • I don’t know,- I say. – we have uncertainty here. But he died, and that, unfortunately, is certain.
  • And what orphans have to do with it?
  • Well, it’s very simple,- I say. – they are needed for unpredictability. They are just not very lucky.
  • This is some kind of madness, – they say to me. – but surely this is just a separate blatant case.
  • Why separate? – I say. – A person can walk down the street, a patrol will stop him, search him, and on the next turn a second patrol will stop him and find drugs on him. It is very difficult to blame the said person for something, it is quite inconvenient to not walk the streets at all.
  • But this is lawlessness.
  • No, – I say. – he will be judged to the fullest extent of the law, do not worry. The law is harsh, but it is the law and all that.
  • But he is innocent.
  • Where did you get that – I say. – you know nothing about him. I just told you about him. What if he beats his wife? Or maybe he was walking down this street with drugs yesterday. or, worse, tomorrow. Or even worse, he is a pedophile. or, God forbid, downloaded Nikita Mikhalkov’s film from torrents. Are you ready to vouch for this unknown passerby, who, if you forgot, was just caught with drugs? Are you sure that this person does not need to be isolated from society? Don’t you care about our children?

Here they explain to me that he has not done anything yet, he is innocent, and I explain in response that Russia has conquered not only space and logic, but also time.

  • There are no innocents,- I say. – this is a meaningless concept. Each person is in a state of uncertainty until he is observed. Only after that we can say whether he is innocent (which is unlikely) or not, but bear in mind that even if he is innocent now, this can easily change with the next observation – innocence is not a stable state, it always seeks guilt, only the half-lives vary.
  • Every single person at a given point in time is both guilty and innocent. we can’t say anything about him until he is checked. And even if he was checked and we found nothing, we all understand that this is a temporary condition. From innocence, he very quickly turns into a state of uncertainty and again becomes the same as everybody and suffers until finally his guilt is called.
  • It’s as if you turned away from the particle, – I say, – and this bitch is already a wave. Copenhagen interpretation, boron, shmoron, sprechen Sie Deutsch?
  • And therefore, – I say, – every Russian person keeps millions of variables in his head every day. They have to take into account the uncertainty of the whole environment, to calculate all possible options, while not forgetting that they themself is an uncertainty.
  • A powerful quantum computer, – I say, – was invented by Russians a long time ago, his name is Ivan Petrovich Arsenyev, he lives in Voronezh, works at a car wash, he is thirty-four years old.
  • And therefore, – I say, – Russian people love certainty so much. In the swamp you grab onto any branch. Tell a Russian that Obama is bad – the Russian is happy. Tell a Russian that Obama is good – the Russian is glad. And each time they sincerely believe in it, because they don’t look in the mouth of a gift certainty and cause-and-effect relationships do not matter.
  • And therefore, – I say, – no long-term planning exists in Russia. There are too many indefinite variables, even in Voronezh you cannot calculate that much, and in fact at any moment new variables may appear, which you cannot predict. There is no strategy in the quantum world, and there is a tactic for two breaths in it, anything longer is meaningless.
  • And therefore, – I say, – Russian Federation is the freest country in the world. But every action has consequences, and they should not be forgotten.

But now everybody is well-read. Well, at least, read about Dostoevsky in Wikipedia.

  • If there is no God, then everything is allowed, – they say to me. – this is bespredel.
  • First, there is a God, and he is cool, – I say. – we have some certainty on this subject and, more importantly, some rules. You be careful with this. Secondly, well, this is an old naive dichotomy, even it is somehow inconvenient to discuss it in the twenty-first century. I am trying to explain it to you: everything is allowed and not allowed at the same time. You and not you. You will be observed or not. You are the (un)guilty Schrödinger. This is so easy.

But you know what I’ve noticed? I think that my defense does not help the Russian Federation. I think the Europeans are just not able to understand us. They are good, but they  are not ready yet, there are still too many new concepts in it for them.

They really look at me like I was crazy at this point in the conversation.

So, I no longer explain anything. I resigned. The Russian Federation will have to correct the image without my help, there’s no use for me. Now I do not say that.

  • Is it true, what they write about Russia in the newspapers? – they ask me.
  • Of course, true, – I say and lower my voice. – moreover, under Nizhnevartovsk there is one abandoned mine, sprinkled with the Grishka Rasputin’s blood, and in it …

Works like a charm.


Okay, so yesterday I discovered that I’ve failed my Machine Learning class. For the second and last time this year. The exact subject I actually want to do research in. And today is, well, not the best day. I am not a person to be motivated by failure, at this point it just proves that can’t get stuff for the life of me. But after studying for this goddamn exam for 2 weeks (well, okay 2 days I was a mess, but other than that) for the second time and given that I actually have some background in it I am pretty sure that it wasn’t for the lack of effort.

So, I got over my feelings of shame about self-diagnosis and started reading up about adult ADHD. As it goes, of course this and not my upcoming re-exam for another subject (another failure of mine) is now the main subject of my hyperfocus. Ah, also I scored in top percentiles for every ADHD test I could find. Even though my psychiatrists and a therapist have only previously diagnosed me with depression, anxiety. Really, who would’ve thought that a person having depression because of her inability to focus on work or studies, who at the same time was programming since her early teens might have some problems with keeping her focus on the right things. Not that the diagnosis would’ve helped me before, since the medication is prohibited in Russia. Well, now that I’m in Germany maybe I can finally stop getting advise of “just doing it” and get some real help.

Phew. I’m not getting angry. Water under the bridge.

Don’t think about that exam tomorrow, just focus on getting help and the bigger picture.

I have my doctors’ appointments, I found a place that specializes on adult ADHD in the next town. Probably won’t be easy to get diagnosed, Germany is not as free in giving ADHD diagnosis and medication as US, but at least it’s possible, so there is hope.



I’m Kate, I am 25 years old and I am a first year Computer Science PhD student from Russia, studying in Germany.

It took me 6.5 years and three universities to get my bachelors degree.

I dropped of 3 high schools and ended up finishing an evening school.

I have changed 7 jobs since I started working in 2011.

But I love Computer Science and research and I can’t see myself doing anything else in my life. And I am sometimes pretty good at it, at least good enough to fool people that I’m smart and let me into a PhD program, until I’m not good at all.

I think I have ADHD.