I was born in 1992, right after the Perestroika. So It would be fair enough to say that I haven’t lived in Soviet Union. I haven’t seen people queuing for food, haven’t been a pioneer. Russia is different now. We have the same shops, eat the same food and watch the same movies as all other people in western countries do. You can’t amaze us with jeans or pair of Nikes anymore. Everything that my parents and basically all other people tells me about the soviet period I picture as something that was too long ago and couldn’t be real. I think that most of my friends feel the same way.

Queue in front of footwear store

But we are not alone. Millions of people didn’t get used to this new way of living. Some of them still don’t understand the danger of Bribery and Cronyism. Some of them are angry and don’t respect other people and their freedom. I think we have something like a Culture gap. Culture gap between people who spent most of their life in Soviet Union and those who didn’t. Between those, who wants to live by the rules and those who don’t believe that it is possible. And everyday more and more people come over this gap, creating more and more tension. I believe that one day every last one of us will pass this gap, but until then Russia will never be a real part of the Western world.

Tesamie in the Metro

But actually, I just wanted to tell you a story. Funny things are happening. Here in Saint-Petersburg we have two guys who call themselves “Tesamie” (eng. “TheseGuys”). Every day one of them goes to the Metro and stands there with a banner with some kind wishes on it. No politics, no begging or anything stupid or negative. Just a guy standing with a banner with some nice words on it. That’s it. People like them, I saw them couple of times and of course it made me smile, especially after seeing all these sad faces in the Metro.

You probably will not believe me, but they often have problems with the police. They take them to the police station, literally for wishing other people to “Have a good day”. It seems like police still have a bit of a common sense, because they let them go after a preventive conversation. I read about it here. There is also an audio recording of conversation between a police officer and one of the guys. The police officer tells him that he has to have some kind of a permission to do such thing. He couldn’t believe that the guy was doing it just to make people smile, for free, without any political context.

And I’ve heard thousands of stories like it. It will take us a lot of time to overcome this Soviet Heritage, especially without any help from the government. Most people in the government are old, so I don’t expect any changes in the near future.