Don’t let them fool you about Russia (By Pinky Khoabane)
By Pinky Khoabane, storyteller who has used writing to tell the story of the injustices of the world. She is a journalist, writer and editor of an online publication Uncensored.
Legendary reggae musician Bob Marley created the song “Don’t Let Them Fool You”, in which he laments master narrative that seeks to portray some nations, cultures and traditions as inferior to others.
And the words resonated with me a lot during my recent visit to Russia; St. Petersburg in particular, whose name has changed four times; Saint Petersburg during the years of Emperor Peter the Great, then the last Emperor Nicholas 11 who was forced to change it to Petrograd (like Saint Peter but it sounded more Russian) then Leningrad (the city of Lenin) in the era of the communists, and the return to St. Petersburg in the era of glasnost, following an opinion poll that decided to return to the original name.
Since time immemorial, the West has packaged – in print, books and movies – the master narrative of being superior to most countries and even more so to their number one enemy, the USSR.
Hollywood directors helped promote an image of a gloomy, backward Russia and all stereotypes were used to cast it as the villain and the United States as the hero. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia remains Hollywood’s No. 1 villain, with the threat of Russian nuclear power and weapons being a feature of their films that suggests we should be on high alert because they might blow us up. . The Russians are still the terrorists and the United States and its military are the saviors. The message is clear and simple: be afraid of sinister Russia.
On the other hand, I encountered a Russia of modernity, of architectural splendour, rich in history and culture. And let me also add that it is a country whose citizens are in tune with fashion trends. I could have been in one of South Africa’s affluent malls with some of the world’s fashion names gracing the store windows.
When we landed in St. Petersburg, I was struck by the endless forest – as far as the eye could see. Behind the trees were high-rise buildings painted in striking contrasting colors. I will learn later from the mayor of Sosnovy Bor, a city where the Leningrad nuclear power plant is located, that the environment, nature and its inhabitants are at the heart of the city plans. “Sosnovy Bor is a good example of a city, where the peaceful atom serves the benefit of people, making life more prosperous, more promising, more beautiful,” he explained.
The mayor isn’t just bragging about how much he loves his city – as he should – but there are concrete examples of what he’s talking about. There are public spaces that have been built with nature and people in mind. A walk in a park crossed by a river and surrounded by trees is an example. Parents bring their children here to play, feed the ducks and connect with the beauty of nature. The benches around the park scream modernity and that probably explains why we’re told this park was built during the covid lockdown period just a year or two ago.
Outside the town hall in Sosnovy Bor is the statue of Lenin – one of many in Russia – and in front of it is the Kentucky Fried Chicken – a symbol of the communist era and the New and modern Russia, but more importantly, a recognition of the financially lucrative market that Russia’s economy has become.
Is the father of the Russian revolution turning in his grave or has he had to accept now that times have changed? I bet he’s rolling over in his grave but his time is up.
The beaches around this town are pristine – another indicator of the harmonious relationship between nature, its people and the peaceful atom.
If that were in doubt – and yes, based on Hollywood’s scare tactics, it should be – concerns about the impact of nuclear power on the environment and people living in areas surrounding nuclear power plants were put to bed recently, when Rosatom held its second International Fishing Tournament in Sosnovy Bor, in the Gulf of Finland.
Held on 8e September, the event brought together athletes from ten countries where Rosatom has built nuclear power plants or plans to do so. Among the competitors this year were three anglers from South Africa, India, Bangladesh, Armenia, Egypt, Armenia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey.
The tournament takes place a stone’s throw from the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP), which is Russia’s largest nuclear power plant by capacity and one of the first in the world to receive state-of-the-art Genertaion 111+ VVER reactors.
The event was held in the format of the Pro Anglers League, which is a European boat-throwing tournament and was attended by 26 guests. A total of 203 fish were caught during the tournament with a total weight of over 7 kg.
India won with Arunabha Sannigrahi and Santosh Jaiswar in the lead. Egypt and Russia scored second and third respectively. An Indian participant received a special prize for the “biggest catch”. A team from Uzbekistan received a special “determination to win” nomination.
The Rosatom International Fishing Competition provides a window into nuclear energy safety and safeguards for the environment and people living around nuclear cities.
The control room at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant is monitored 24/7 by three teams of staff to ensure that rigorous security measures are maintained. External international environmental organizations monitor the impact of the nuclear power plant on the environment, the Gulf of Finland and the people living around the nuclear power plants.
Information, participation and public support are at the heart of the new units to be built, explained the mayor.
There is an African proverb, with many variations: until the lions have their own storytellers, the hunters will always be the heroes of their story”.
Russia will have to tell its story to the world instead of the villains the West portrays it.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Pinky Khoabane.
This press release was issued by APO. Content is not vetted by the African Business editorial team and none of the content has been checked or validated by our editorial teams, proofreaders or fact checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.