“Money makes the world go around” is the tones that are playing at Princess Anastasia, the boat I’m taking from Stockholm to St Petersburg via Tallinn, while the show dancers are doing their thing. I am sitting in the bar reflecting over how much the Russian society, after the fall down of the Soviet Union and the communistic system has embraced the capitalism in many ways. Money seems to be burning in the pockets, almost everything is for sale and commercial messages are flowing everywhere. While focus on spending is high, differences in wealth are huge and I believe this is a big part of the bitterness that could be felt from many people in the Russian society, the unfortunate ones feel so much more unfortunate.
Seeing Russian money spending from another perspective, it might not be surprising that money is burning in the pocket a bit more for people who have lost a huge amount of their savings over night in the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the economic crisis in 1998 and partly also in 2009. The quick shift towards a capitalistic view still fascinates me a lot though. The show of the evening at Princess Anastasia was a good one, and the digestion of passengers likewise, young ones, old ones, who doesn’t like a good show?
I made an odd part of the picture sitting and making notes for this text in my calendar. At least for the bartender who suddenly knocks on my shoulder and with a smile on his face asks me: “Ты из КГБ что ли?” – Are you from the KGB or something? I explain for him that I just make some notes for my memory and he agrees that these are good things to remember before we go into a discussion on why there are still so much less Swedes than Russians taking this boat even though it offers the opportunity to visit Saint Petersburg without Visa for a short while, Russia is just still further away for most Swedes than it actually is.