Sunday, May 11, 2014

Anthony Bourdain "Parts Unknown" visits Russia, spends time covering the anti-gay propaganda law

On Sunday night, May 11, Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” series visits Russia. Here’s the link with the slide show.

The visit occurred before the Sochi Olympics, which he describes as a financial boondoggle. At the end of the show, Bourdain mentioned the annexation of Crimea and the tensions with Ukraine. “The world has done nothing. The world will do nothing.”

Throughout most of the episode, Bourdain delved into the exotic food, right after talking about Russian corruption.  I don’t know how Bourdain was allowed into the country when authorities must have known he would expose them.  He described a long litany of people imprisoned for criticizing or exposing the authorities.  Few real native journalists are left in Russia.

Bourdain spent about ten minutes on the anti-gay propaganda law, which he correctly says can be interpreted any way authorities want.  He mentioned the vigitlantism and gay-baiting and attacks near bars, especially the Central Station in Moscow, now reportedly closed down.  He talked to two lesbians, who characterized Russia as a paradoxical mixture of culture and intellect for the elite, in a world of “bears”. 
He later took the night train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, had a meal of caviar, and showed the Russian peasant villages in the darkness.  Putin longs for the days of Soviet authoritarianism and nationalism, while embracing capitalism for the ruling class. There is a paradox between the atheism of the government and the hold of the conservative Orthodox Church on the common people. 

Wikipedia link for map of Russian anti-gay laws by region

Update:  Bourdain interviews Boris Nemtsov, who was shot on a bridge near the Kremlin on Feb. 28, 2015.  Bourdain asks him if he (Bourdain) could become a mark merely by interviewing him.  

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