Author of the book about the adventures of rowdy Americans in Russia, shocking columnist, editor in chief of the newspaper very politically incorrect for expats Exile in an interview with BBC, BBC told how to live in the Russian American 15 years and did not disappoint.
Bi-bi-si: Book about your scandalous adventures in Russia «The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia» sold well in America?
Mark Ames: Of course, though some reviews I was shocked.
Mark Ames: Literature in the United States is very conservative. You can tell the shocking truth in the film, a cartoon or a rock 'n' roll, but not in prose. Therefore, people are very easy to shock literature. And a lot of fools.
Bi-bi-si: As I understand, you do not have very good relations with colleagues, in particular with the American journalists working in Russia.
Mark Ames: They hate us because we speak the truth about them. Say that they do not understand Russian reality. It is always easier to sell a story about how, in Russia everything is bad. In 90% of Western journalists here one task — to show the shortcomings of Russia so that they have at home people looked and felt better. Under Yeltsin, despite the corruption, low living standards, foreign media have not focused on the issues, as was pro-Western President Boris Yeltsin. And since today is Putin, the West does not listen, they want to show the consequences of his disobedience: looking for homeless people in Moscow and show landfills. If I did not live in Moscow and only read Economist, I would have thought that in the Russian gulags already in the country.
Bi-bi-si: You Californian, the man who finished a rather prestigious university, Berkley. How did you brought in 1993 in Russia?
Mark Ames: In the last semester we had a course on European literature. Then I read some of the works of Russian classics. University of Berkley inspires his students thought that I must live deliberately, with interest, to make something of themselves in life. In the early 90's, even while living in America, I felt that Russia launched a landmark era. As a writer, I just could not stay home and work in the office.
Bi-bi-si: You are very fond of Russian journalists for anti-American rhetoric. This is reminiscent of the love of Western journalists to the Soviet dissidents who were able to open the West to tell of the horrors of the Soviet Union.
Mark Ames: Yes, I consider myself an American dissident adjusted for the fact that I can go back any time. But it annoys me that the majority of Americans or Britons come to Russia as Christian missionaries to expand democratic civilization. These people are absolutely not interested in Russian culture. Therefore, I consider it my task to criticize the United States, to denounce the Washington Post and New York Times, which first intimidated people, urging the necessity of the war in Iraq, and then apologized for it. For me the more important of our problems, our hypocrisy. I will not compare American democracy with Russia: we have a history, you have — their own. But our standards should be much higher.
Bi-bi-si: American community rallied in Moscow? Those Americans who are currently living in Russia?
Mark Ames: In the early 90s the Russians too appreciated the Americans. American community in Russia has been significant and we can say, secular. Many of his representatives were young, not very educated people who splurge and earn obscenely large amount of money, which immediately lowered in Moscow strip bars. After the 1998 crisis, they all ran away. Later came other people — serious professionals who work in large companies.
Bi-bi-si: You communicate with each other?
Mark Ames: American businessmen talking to each other, because many of them do not know the Russian language. Someone is already too old to learn, some — too busy.
Bi-bi-si: It is very difficult to adapt foreigner in Russia?
Mark Ames: Once I was invited to Moscow editor of the New Yorker. He worked for many years in both India and Pakistan in the jungle. So it took him two months to learn to walk around Moscow alone. Naturally, when my relatives come, I need all the time to be with them. After Moscow's plan has no logic, and the metro — all the other world, where few people speak in English, and require police documents. But I can not stand it when foreigners complain that in Russia there is no Starbucks, no order-this world. I just wanted to say, "Well, then, go away from here!". Russia gives a lot of opportunities, there is still
can realize their dreams, and the company is incredibly fast growing rich.
Bi-bi-si: American women complain that their husbands in Russia deteriorate. What happens to them?
Mark Ames: Most of them are divorced! In the U.S., women have the power house. And here, many American men behave like kids in a candy store. After all, there are so many beautiful girls!
Bi-bi-si: You feel yourself on the manifestations of anti-Americanism?
Mark Ames: Yes, of course. Recently, the anti-American sentiment in Russia has grown. 10-15 years ago in Russia too highly prized America and Americans. Everyone thought that the United States is all that is lacking here. But then came the understanding that the United States — not heaven, and Americans who travel to Russia, — not supermen. In place of adoration disappointment came, and after the bombing of Kosovo and the invasion of Iraq, people are angry. I think the Russians think too much about America. After all, in America, do not look at other countries. Well, maybe to China. And nobody cares what people think about them in other countries.