Interview: Copydude

CopydudeCopydude, a freelance writer with a bit of a thing for Soviet women, splits his time between the UK and Kaliningrad.

In a welcome change of pace, he uses his interview to dispense some grandfatherly wisdom, and to brings some much needed perspective to post-Soviet blogging.

Q. So, why are you blogging anyway?

A. It’s a good question. With over 45 million blogs out there, does the Internet really need another blogger? It’s like Nashville not needing another country picker.

So this year it will become less of a blog and might actually provide some useful travel information. I need to finish a guide to Kaliningrad which has been sorely neglected.

Q. Which blogs about Russia and the former Soviet Union do you most enjoy reading?

A. I think I read most of the Russia blogs – with the exception of Russophobe of course 🙂 I honestly prefer reading blogs to mainstream media, which today is woefully short of tell-it-like-it-is journalism from anyone on the spot with a clue. As a rule of thumb, the more personal a blog, the more I like it. I’m not likely to read a blog by Khordokovsky’s lawyer. I’d rather read about that woman who sits in Kiev picking dog fleas out of her carpets. Well, she’s since moved to Turkey but this for me is blog appeal.

Q. What sparked your interest in Russia?

A. I’ve always had an interest in Russia. My first girlfriend was a ‘pioneer’ in the late sixties who worked in the Russian bookshop in London. My last wife was Russian too. It’s what they call brand loyalty.

If you went East in the early days you realised what a total hype the Cold War was. As phoney as the ‘War On Terror’ – just a device for perpetuating the arms industry. The East Block was penniless, threadbare, incapable of attacking anyone except with a division of Trabants. But there was something solid about people there � something more to them than just material values and always wonderfully hospitable.

I was a huge fan of spy novels too. Driving to Poland or Berlin through the scary East German border post near Magdeburg was always good for a chiller diller thrill. It was like living a Len Deighton. I never liked beach holidays anyway..

Q What is your favourite place in Russia? Is there anywhere you haven’t been yet, but would love to visit?

A You can’t really have a favourite place in Russia. All the towns look exactly the same. Once you’ve visited one, there’s no real point in visiting anywhere else.

Q What do you love about Russia? What do you hate?

A. I love anything with a red star or a cosmonaut or a picture of Lenin on it. I have a special craving for Russian mushrooms. And of course, one would kill for the women – which frequently happens. Few people realise that all these men shot in doorways are Russian husbands. Soviet women always make husbands sleep on the padyest – none of this namby pamby on the sofa stuff. But here they are naturally vulnerable to rivals.� Of course the Western media tries to politicise these shootings.

The worst thing about Russia is the winter – not because it’s cold but because everyone has the heating turned up to tropical. It seems to be impossible to dress for both indoors and outdoors. On top of which there’s the business of changing your shoes every time you go in and out. Then there’s the three doors to any apartment and all the locks. Really tedious.

Q. If you could invite three Russians, past or present, to a dinner, who would they be?

I was a huge fan of spy novels too. Driving to Poland or Berlin through the scary East German border post near Magdeburg was always good for a chiller diller thrill. It was like living a Len Deighton. I never liked beach holidays anyway.

Q What is your favourite place in Russia? Is there anywhere you haven’tbeen yet, but would love to visit?

A. You can’t really have a favourite place in Russia. All the towns look exactly the same. Once you’ve visited one, there’s no real point in visiting anywhere else.

Q What do you love about Russia? What do you hate?

A. I love anything with a red star or a cosmonaut or a picture of Lenin on it. I have a special craving for Russian mushrooms. And of course, one would kill for the women – which frequently happens. Few people realise that all these men shot in doorways are Russian husbands. Soviet women always make husbands sleep on the padyest – none of this namby pamby on the sofa stuff. But here they are naturally vulnerable to rivals. Of course the Western media tries to politicise these shootings.

The worst thing about Russia is the winter – not because it’s cold but because everyone has the heating turned up to tropical. It seems to be impossible to dress for both indoors and outdoors. On top of which there’s the business of changing your shoes every time you go in and out. Then there’s the three doors to any apartment and all the locks. Really tedious.

Q. If you could invite three Russians, past or present, to a dinner party, who would they be?

I’d like to invite Igor Talkov and Galina Brezhnev and Gorbachev’s daughter Julia. I want to know if all those scandalous stories are true, who really shot Igor and I’d like to get Julia drunk. I had the privilege of meeting the Gorbachevs at an art exhibition in Holland. Gorby speaks through a simultaneous interpreter. There’s so little delay in the translation it is like stereo with English on one channel. Quite mesmerising.

Q Do you think Russia will ever embrace the style of representative democracy now favoured in (most of) the rest of Europe?

A Why on earth would it want to do that? We only have an illusion of democracy. The UK doesn’t have proportional representation. It has a government 70% of the population didn’t vote for and a lying, warmongering sleazeball for a Prime Minister who is in some other country’s pocket. I wouldn’t wish our so-called democracy on anyone, not even Turkmenistan.

Honestly, who could you suggest as a role model for Vlad? A total crook like Berlusconi? One of Poland’s potato twins? The refreshing thing about Russian politicians is that they are completely honest about being corrupt.

Western media is as controlled as Russian media. Rupert Murdoch tells people which way to vote. Elections are rigged by who has the best ad agency or the biggest budget. Even the Internet is now being controlled by Google, which decides which ‘news sources’ are ‘news’. Look at the prepping for the Iraq War or the Litvinenko coverage – wall to wall disinfo invented by spin doctors. Russia is as democratic, or undemocratic, as anywhere else.

The main difference is that politicians and the media have less credibility in Russia because people aren’t generally so stupid and gullible as they are here. I don’t know any ordinary Russians who ever believed the old Soviet propaganda. Witness the old Soviet joke: ‘We have two newspapers, The Truth and The News. But The Truth doesn’t print any news and The News doesn’t print any truth.’

Q. Do you think the average Russian’s life today is better, or worse than it was in 1989?

A. Materially people are better off, if you count shopping malls. Spiritually and culturally, it depends upon the age group. The ‘New Russians’ are a bit hard to take. One hopes that Russia might rediscover some of its Soviet values in terms of education and funding for the arts. In terms of pensions and social safety nets Russians are now considerably worse off – but that’s capitalism for you.

Q. If you could advise the Russian government to do one thing, what would it be?

A. Import Georgian wine again. The Moldovan stuff just doesn’t cut it. This ban is causing tourists unnecessary hardship.

Q. I know you have a particular interest in Kaliningrad.Why? And do you you think Kaliningrad’s future lie in closer integration with Europe, or mainland Russia?

This area of the Baltics is very beautiful – which is why Putin is building his retirement home here. I like Kaliningrad itself because it is eccentric and an anomaly. Well, you could call it mistake. The whole town looks like someone played Sim City and lost. In 2001 it was rumoured that Chris Patten of the EU offered to buy it as scrap.

Because of the way Kaliningrad was settled, there’s a complete cross-section of ‘former Soviets’ in Kaliningrad and some 97 different nationalities according to one census. It’s a good place for misfits where everyone seems to misfit in, which lends it a very special ambience.

Of course, Kaliningrad has no natural relationship with Russia and it could easily have blended back in with its surroundings but the NATO bases and the Schengen wall have pretty much put an iron curtain back around it. It’s the new East Berlin – but that was also one of my favourite places.

Q. You don’t run a dating site, but you have a section on your website called ‘Soviet Women FAQs’. Why Soviet women, rather than Russian women? And why on earth do they prefer bald men?

A. No I don’t have a dating site. A Fast Bride Takeaway Counter might be an innovative idea for Sheremetyevo. One could give all the girls ‘best before’ datestamps.

‘Soviet’ was a catch-all – I believe the vast majority of girls available for ‘export’ are in fact Ukrainian. Actually I do find the women rather ‘Soviet’ in lots of ways. They still have these really old-fashioned names, like Tatiana and Ludmila. Modern dyevs should surely have names like Mattresska and Dollya.

Soviet women can prefer anything you like. After all, they are just an urban legend. With a very bad rinse.

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19 Responses

  1. It’s kind of amusing the Copydude complains about disinformation in the Western press when his own interview is so full of it. Let’s review, shall we?

    (1) It’s 55 million blogs, not 45.

    (2) Asked what blog about Russia he likes most, he names none. However, he names two he doesn’t like, while claiming he reads them all.

    (3) He thinks spy novels are a legitimate basis for interest in Russia.

    (4) Asked what place he’d like to visit in Russia, he names none. Then he says he’s going to write a travel guide. He apparently thinks somebody looks to him for travel advice, when his blog barely exists in terms of readership.

    (5) Asked for the worst thing about Russia, men dying at before 60 means nothing. Hot apartments are bad.

    (6) He lives in Kaliningrad but talks about talking to “Gorby” through a translator. Oh yeah, all Russians hate Gorby, but he thinks its a “privilege” to talk to him.

    (7) He claims all countries have exactly the same level of democracy.

    (8) Soviet value for the arts? Oh right, the way they valued Solzhenitisyn.

    (9) Georgian wine already is being imported. http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11259540&PageNum=0

    (10) Putin is going to retire in Kalinigrad? As if.

    (11) That stuff about Soviet women . . . just plain creepy!

    Oh but wait, I see. He meant to do that. Spew out all this totally useless disinformation, just to show how evil it is that the West is doing that (which is why he left us of course, not at all because he couldn’t make it here).

    Gosh, that’s awfully clever. Wise might possibly be pushing it, but definitely oh, so clever.

  2. Brilliant – that would be the interview not LaR’s response which is…..

    Typical dilettante British/English ad copywriter happy waffle – with a bad rinse

  3. Michael Averko says:

    Short and sweet.

    Not hip with the Soviet nostalgia, while tending to sympathize with much of the rest of CD’s views.

  4. Michael M. says:

    Great interview, although there seems to have been some formatting problems. Still.

    The whole town looks like someone played Sim City and lost.

    Copydude deserves an Order of Lenin medal for that line, and the explosive laugh it brought out of me. Wonderful.

  5. Andy says:

    There was a problem with the formatting of the interview, but this should have been fixed now. Apologies for any confusion.

    Mike – you may want to re-read the interview – it’s still just a sweet, but now slightly longer..

  6. Andy, you should rather focus on formatting the interview with Copydude than fishing for compliments from La Russophobe.

  7. Andy says:

    Perhaps I should head up to the attic and dig out the old fishing rod – better prepared I might have more success…

  8. Andy wrote: Perhaps I should head up to the attic and dig out the old fishing rod – better prepared I might have more success…

    Well, as this is what you obviously desire I wish you the best of luck. Should you need some advice you are welcome to contact me. I am a rather experienced fisherman. My mailbox tells me that you have my address. Feel free to mail any time.

  9. Dinc says:

    Great interview..I think copydude has one of the best blog content about Russia.

    He is also another reason why I want to see Kaliningrad 🙂

  10. James says:

    Actually I think the latest blog count on Technorati was 70.3 million.

  11. JAMES:

    Really? Wow, then he was off even more than I thought. And I’m even more elite than I thought! 😉 Thanks for the correction (can you give me a link?)

    ALL:

    I really find this discussion here quite priceless. Someone with a failed Russia blog (Ruminator) and someone who doesn’t even have a blog at all (Averko) and people who blog about Slovenia (Michael M.) and Turkey (Dinc) think Copydude is wonderful. And nobody gives the slightest substantive reason nor discusses any substantive point he’s made. I guess that explains why Copydude is at the bottom of the heap in terms of both readership and blog interest. He’s one of the most irresponsible and crazed in the Russia blogosphere, and apparently actually believes he knows who “really killed” Litvinenko better than all the West’s journalists. Pity Andy didn’t ask him a pointed question about that. Pour a bit of vodka down his gullet and he’ll tell you who killled JFK too. And yet nobody will listen! What a tragedy.

    I have nothing but contempt for his crazed utterances, as it seems does the blogosphere. And his hypocrisy in this interview is truly breathtaking. His Russophelia and women-talk is simply pathological and spooky.

    But apparently even he has the sense to abandon his crazed political “analysis” and write travelogue. Very sensible.

  12. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Funny LR how you refer to Ruminator as a failed blog. You spent plenty of time putting comments on there, so much so that you got banned. Pathetic as usual.

    Your rant at
    http://russophobe.blogspot.com/2007/03/annals-of-russophile-gibberish.html

    is as dreary, childish and repetitive as ever. Do have anything to say apart from:
    “They elected a proud KGB spy!”
    “The average Russian earns $2.50 an hour!”
    ”They are losing a million people a year!”

    Do you actually have anything else to say apart from this? Or are you just a copy and paste job with stupid, insipid, hate-filled remarks added?
    With breathtaking stupidiy and ignorance you refer to the Russian Academy of Sciences as a ”weirdo institute”
    Do you need your head examined? Sounds to me like you’ve never heard of the RAS before. WHich means you really do know NOTHING about Russia. Leaving aside any liking for Russia, its only one of the foremost scientific research institutions in the world. And you’ve never heard of it. Amazing.
    You constantly refer to Russians proudly electing a KGB spy. That was the decision of the people of the Russian Federation, not your decision. Why should what YOU think is right for Russia actually matter to ordinary Russians? Democracy is about self determination. The fundamental of which is that if Russians didnt like Putin, Ivanov or Medvedev they wouldnt vote for them. What part of ‘VOTE’ dont you understand?

  13. Michael Averko says:

    My not having a blog is a negative at my being able to comment here?

    As previously noted, my commentary has been well received at the leading English language blogs covering Russia. There’s no debate on that.

    Also previously stated, I’ve received free offers for state of the art web site design and tech support from folks liking my work. Like I said: IMHO, I’m worth a salary as well; and a good one at that.

    Thanks Andy for the followup.

    CD:

    Slavic women in general are on the hot side. For me, two headed eagles are more preferable than red stars. Much like Riurikist-Romanovism over Marxist-Leninism. I note how the meaning of the red star has been somewhat changed.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Sergej Varsjinskij said:
    March 9th, 2007 at 1:50 pm
    Andy, you should rather focus on formatting the interview with Copydude than fishing for compliments from La Russophobe.

    This makes no sense. What fishing for compliments?

  15. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike you said
    ‘IMHO, I’m worth a salary as well; and a good one at that.’

    Do you ever stop blowing your own trumpet?
    If you ask me there’s too many gobshite journalists in the world as it is both in Russia and the US. Men making mortar on building sites or using jackhammers get paid less for far more useful and productive work.

    I’m beginning to wonder if most blogging is just egoism on a massive scale. I’d say only 50% of responses to posts actually deal with the issues at hand. I’m new to blogging and the notion that there’s more info to be got from it than conventional media is total nonsense. Everyone just seems to be preoccupied with being known by everyone else. It reminds me of how kids behave in playgrounds. Who bloody cares who knows who? Are most of you that bereft of attention from people in real life?

  16. Michael Averko says:

    “Do you ever stop blowing your own trumpet?”

    You’re missing the flip side. For the longest of time, I played it in a less dramtic mode. It got me nowhere as not so talented (in comparison) others advanced.

    People make a living in journalism. Some of them make a lucrative one at that. Am I out of line for believing that the media’s unpopularity has to do (in part) with that entity being so out of touch with reality?

    I don’t think so with others agreeing. The English language coverage of Russia is a noteworthy example.

    I’ll expand on this a bit more in the next Qucik Takes. Eamnil afweb1@yahoo.com to subscribe.

  17. Rebecca says:

    too many gobshite journalists in the world

    Ger,

    I’m not picking a fight with you, but wanted to point out that you often “jump in with both feet” only to then apologise for what/how you’ve said something, on the pretext that you are new to blogging and get carried away. I was just wondering, how long it’d be before you got in to the habit of re reading your posts before clicking submit?

    Rebecca

  18. Hey Russophobe… or should I say Blogspot Boy (what’s wrong? Can’t afford your own site?).

    I publish Copydude’s work at Atlantic Free Press http://www.atlanticfreepress.com along with the work of luminaries such as Bill Blum, Normon Solomon, Paul William Roberts, Craig Murray, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, James Kunstler, Juan Cole and well over a hundred other writers. All with permission I might add – I am not simply a news aggregator… I ‘work’ with my writers.

    I can understand why no one is syndicating your cookie cutter, blogspot charity site that has only had 86,000 visitors in one year.

    Tell me – do you think blogging is about cutting and pasting? Do you have any original thoughts of your own longer than a paragraph? Or do you just prefer to rip off the work of others with a snippet of snot from yourself?

    That’s not blogging, that’s copyright theft (read three to four paragraphs – not almost entire articles – then link).

    Copydude makes mincemeat out of you and your pathetic little dance here – in order to mar the interview – is indicative of your true nature.

    R. Kastelein

  1. March 9, 2007

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