FIFTH COLUMN: Daydreams of Points Abroad Are Specific
- By Leonid Bershidsky
- Aug. 10 1999 00:00
At first sight, no destination is necessary for an internal emigr?. If you are not leaving in person, why decide where you are going in your thoughts? Just "the West" or "the Orient" should suffice.
In reality, internal emigration is very site-specific.
First, a basic division should be established between two major kinds of internal emigr?s. One includes the rich, who have a second domicile outside Russia but who mainly live here to supervise their business interests. The other consists of managers, intellectuals and other members of the middle class who cannot buy a house in London but who know exactly where they would like to go should Russia become less hospitable.
Among the rich, London is the preferred destination for bankers and other conservative businessmen. The draw of the British tradition and the prestige of a Kensington or a Belgravia address is too strong for them to consider such alternatives as the Cote d'Azure. That area has more attraction for the likes of Boris Berezovsky, with their more adventurous way of doing business and their fondness for Italian suits.
The show business types are willing to consider Florida, where pop diva Alla Pugachyova is rumored to own a villa, and, of course, California. And the shadier characters, whose wealth needs hiding as much as it needs looking after, prefer Switzerland.
The owners of Moscow or St. Petersburg apartments who can hardly hope to buy a place in Saint Tropez can still be split rather easily into major groups by geographical preference.
Francophiles. These people fell in love with French culture - Bunuel, Camus, the songs of Joe Dassin, etc. - back in school and never got rid of the affliction. Forthem, an annual trip to Paris is a breath of fresh air. The French are nice to them because they speak French, and anyway, the Parisian condescension is taken in stride by these Frenchified Russians. One major example is often seen by Russian audiences on TV - NTV's Paris bureau chief Vadim Glusker, who is so obviously in love with France it is hard to imagine what will happen to him when his tour of duty ends.
Anglophiles. Some of these people carefully cultivate a British accent and affect an English style in clothing. They go out riding, drink port with their Stilton and smoke pipes. This is a relatively small group of people, but it was around even in Soviet times. Another large group of modern Anglophiles pines for the London club scene. These mostly young kids know which DJ plays which venue and wear the latest in London-designed clothes .
Victims of the American influence. They populate the part of the Starlite Diner not already taken up by real Americans, wear jeans and flannel shirts, have been or want to go to American schools and know how to snicker like Beavis and Butt-Head.
Eastheads. A lot of "alternative" types who are not even wealthy enough to be considered middle-class really live in China, Japan or India rather than Russia, no matter what their recorded home address is. They take classes in Hindi or Japanese calligraphy, furnish their homes with Oriental paraphernalia and know dozens of ways to cook rice.
These are just the main groups. There are also Russian Rastafarians, Russian Teutonophiles, Italophiles, pseudo-Gaels and any number of other people whom any census that scratches deeper than the surface would not even count as Russians.