Dear Russia,

            Priviet! Sorry for ignoring you all this time. I’ve really been busy. Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten you and I never will. I’ve been keeping up with you, and I am glad to see you’ve stayed out of trouble lately. Those sanctions and airplane crashes really got me worried. I guess things do get better, da?

            You were my favorite for almost three years. That’s not much, but you’re the only one who I actually took the time to understand. Even before that, you’ve always fascinated me. You are huge. You are simultaneously laughed at and feared. You even manage to get away with everything from mass murder to taking over half of Europe. You also had a tendency to take things to the extremes. I could relate. Anyways, the time would have come sooner or later. I still remember the exact moment. I was taking a test when the teacher asked us to consider a research topic. It took me less than a minute: “Stalin’s Rise to Power!”. At that point, I was just getting off of WWII and barely knew Stalin, but he came up. Thus began a three- year obsession.

            I learned a lot about you those three years. Admittedly, most of it was about the Soviet Union; I simply find your Soviet times more interesting. No matter what other jealous countries may say, the Soviet Union was amazing. You managed to return Russia to power. Trust me, those Romanovs were getting old. It wasn’t even Nicholas’s fault. A pseudo-feudal system just wasn’t going to cut it in the 20th century. Anyways, Lenin’s new system, despite its flaws, managed to get the country in the right direction. It made me happy to learn that your people could still be realists. When Stalin came, things really got going. Production rose exponentially; the literacy rate skyrocketed; you were gaining power as the west fell into depression. As WWII came, you managed to turn the tide from eminent defeat to victory, causing 93% of Nazi casualties along the way. Afterwards, you expaned your already huge territory, developed nuclear weapons, and put the first satellite and man into space. I wish I could end at that, but it’s not that simple.

            The advancement came with a cruel twist, da? Stalin and the others never hesitated to carry out famine, slave labor and secret polices to previously unimagined heights. I guess it’s always been that way for you. Even Peter the Great sacrificed thousands to build St. Petersburg.  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just don’t seem to be your thing. Other countries don’t accept it; they shun you because of it. I cannot accept your propensity to kill, but I love you.

            I love you for Kalashnikovs; vodka and vodka induced miracles; oil; strongmen and Catherine; kettlebells- no matter how much they hurt; blini topped with caviar; General Winter; Pushkin, Chekov Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and the others; ballet; gymnastics; beard tax; Siberia’s natural beauty; espionage; T-34s; Katyushas and Victory Day. I love you for you.

            I’m sorry to say that none of this prevented your defeat in the Cold war. In hindsight, you were fighting an uphill battle the whole way. You fell hard. Now you’re back up again. I still expect great things from you. I’m coming to visit in March. Until then, da svedanya 

Published by Angie Fan