By Linh Dinh
To start with, please tell us how long you’ve been in Russia? Why did you decide to move there?
I have been in Russia since the summer of 2014. In fact, I came a week or so after Ukraine shot that passenger plane down and blamed it on Russia.
In the beginning, I would half-joke that I was the first refugee from America, but nowadays when Russians ask me – and they often do – I usually make vague noises about wanting to travel, mainly to avoid discussing it. As it turns out, it’s a surprisingly personal question that leads to more questions and me giving long-winded explanations where I feel like I’m pontificating or lecturing them. And frankly I have gotten tired of hearing myself talk.
Part of the reason I moved here is that I have an escapist personality, but the other part was political. I grew up southern Alabama, in a left-wing family, which back then was rare to the point of non-existent in white society. My father especially was sympathetic to the Soviets/Russians, Cubans and Palestinians and having gone to Catholic school all my life, I took the moral lessons to heart, if not the religious ones. I myself had my political awakening after 9/11 when I was just 20 years old. By the time 2014 had rolled around, I pretty much hated the US system and felt powerless and angry, so I made the conscious decision to leave. At that time, I figured that Russia or China was my best bet, but China seemed too foreign, so I went to Russia instead.