Since it seems like everyone’s entangled in “meeting with Russians” scandals, it seems only prudent that I disclose that on New Year’s Eve, while waiting at the taxi stand in front of the train station, I had a pleasant but limited conversation in Italian with some Russian grad students on the way to a party. They gave a flashing pink plastic Minnie Mouse hairbow to a member of my group in exchange for taking a selfie together (in matching headbands), and we insisted they take the first cab even though we’d been waiting longer.
I have in the past colluded similarly with other Russians, all of whom have been multi-lingual women about my age who posessed advanced degrees, impressive class consciousness, and an admirable blend of big-hearted idealism and shrewdly realistic evaluations of whether everybody else would contribute fairly and honestly. I would welcome future opportunities for more Russian friendships of this type.
But then, the issue isn’t Russians, is it. It’s oligarchs who believe their vast plundered wealth places them above the law, which they would nevertheless like to cynically restructure to their further advantage, and to hell with everyone else.
It seems like a lot of them aren’t Russian.
I haven’t met with any of those guys.