Fluent in English, Spanish, German, and Russian, the attractive summa cum laude graduate of the Russian Academy of National Economy was born in Russia. She spent 5 years of her childhood in Bolivia, moved back to Russia for education and work, and most recently relocated to Ukraine to help combat fraud and assure the smooth working of vital social institutions.
The Putin establishment of state-owned media in Russia has condemned her move to Ukraine. Russian politicians have labeled her a traitor. And yet, she is an educated, capable young woman with a conscience, who feels she must go where she will be allowed to make a difference. In Russia, only Putin’s inner circle and the mafia can make a difference.
The daughter of one of Russia’s most famous reformers, the first post-Soviet prime minister, Yegor Gaidar, Ms. Gaidar is now the newly minted adviser to the regional governor on health and social issues in the Odessa region of Ukraine. She is one of several prominent outsiders who have descended on the area in hopes of transforming it into a showplace of Ukrainian democracy.
… In Russia, news that the 32-year-old scion of a famous Russian family — in addition to her economist father, her great-grandfather Arkady Gaidar wrote a seminal Soviet children’s book — was taking an administrative job in Ukraine incensed the state-run news media.
… For Roman Dobrokhotov, the editor of The Insider Russia, a Moscow-based online investigative political newspaper, the answer is clear. For someone like Ms. Gaidar, who has hung from an icy Moscow bridge facing the Kremlin to protest election fraud, but would rather spend her time organizing and putting in effect concrete social policies, very few paths are available in Russia.
“We understand there’s not really an opportunity here to participate in a real political life,” Mr. Dobrokhotov said. “There in Odessa, Maria and all the team, they get a real chance to build another type of society, an open society.”
… “If Ukraine does reform and change, Maria is going to be part of this process. What we’re trying to do here, we hope one day will be relevant in Russia, post-Putin.”
… In 2009, she joined Mr. Navalny and a handful of activists in the depressed Russian region of Kirov, where Nikita Belykh, a fellow opposition activist, had been appointed governor. Ms. Gaidar stayed for more than two years, despite hostile, entrenched power structures and a shoestring budget.
She returned to Moscow and, in recent years, focused her energies on social work. But then came the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s turn toward a bellicose nationalism.
“If everything had been fine, I would be in Russia, working as a technocrat or as a politician,” she said. “But with this war, I feel if I am not doing something against it, then I feel I am participating.” When Mr. Saakashvili offered her a job in Odessa, she quickly accepted.
… Right now, Ms. Gaidar is in the process of renouncing her Russian citizenship, as required by Ukrainian law. As she scanned the orphanage’s neglected grounds, she said the decision was hard to make. “It didn’t feel good,” she said. “It didn’t feel good at all. I have a Russian soul, that’s definite. But for me to be here, now, and to be here completely, it’s important.” __ NYT
In Russia, mothers of soldiers slain in the Russian war against Ukraine are forbidden to talk about what happened to their sons — under penalty of imprisonment. Russians are afraid to speak out against the new wave of oppression under the new reign of Putin. The rare ones who speak out publicly are in danger of being shot down, like Nemtsov or any number of journalists and activists who have been killed for speaking out against tyranny and high level injustice. And we should never forget Sergei Magnitsky, imprisoned and murdered by Putin’s thugs for trying to uphold Russian law in Russian courts. More
Better for Gaidar to get out now, and try to help ethnic Russians in the Odessa area of Ukraine. Unless Putin sends thugs to kill her there, she is likely to be safer in Odessa than in Russia, and she may even help make things better and less corrupt there.
Large numbers of intelligent and capable young people still reside inside Russia. The best of them are finding ways of getting out — since in the corrupt and criminal atmosphere of Putin’s Russia, there are few opportunities other than in the propaganda army, spy bureaus, or state-owned media. Vital infrastructures of health, education, orphanages, transportation, etc. are being starved for funds due to the ongoing Putin Recession.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of smart, capable Russians have been leaving the country annually. Tens of thousands more of young, fertile Russian girls have been trafficked out of the country, their fertile wombs unlikely to return to the demographically – challenged motherland. Since many of Putin’s friends are likely to be making a hefty profit from this modern slave trade, it is not likely to be stopped anytime soon.
A better Russia, with a better government, would provide more opportunities for young Russian women and men alike. Putin’s government is too corrupt, criminal, and worried about the possible emergence of a powerful middle class and commercial class, to allow any type of civil society to emerge. Everything is “the state,” and the corrupt criminals who currently rule the state.
And so fearless Russians with a conscience will either be imprisoned, shot dead in the streets, or find their way to other countries — where they can make a difference.
More on Ukraine as a better opportunity for Russians to live and make a difference:
Ever more Russians are coming from Russia to Ukraine, and while they are very aware of Ukraine’s shortcomings, “the spirit of freedom” allow them to recover “feelings of their own dignity” and become “passionate patriots of Ukraine,” Dzhordan says.
“This means,” he says, “that we are in a great historical period. On the one hand, the twilight of Muscovy is occurring, the fall of the imperial ‘House of Usher.’ And at the same time, the restoration of Kievan Rus is taking place on a new turn of the historical spiral in the form of free Ukraine.”
First there was Kyivska Rus, or Ukraine. Then came the Golden Horde of barbaric destruction, and the elevation of Muscovy. Ukraine has been trying to escape the barbarians to the East and South ever since. With a bit of outside help to overcome the old USSR-style corruption and criminality, Ukraine has a better chance than Russia — despite the lack of Russia’s rich hinterlands. (see: Natural Resource Curse)
Number of Russians living in poverty roughly 22 million, or about 15%. Strangely, both poverty and mortality are rising in both Russia and Ukraine, the attacker and the attacked, respectively.
Putin’s reckless barbarian swagger is alienating all of its neighbors — and is even making China take a more cautious and critical approach to Russian deals.
Russia’s best approach for long-term prosperity would be to throw Putin to the lions, return stolen lands to Germany, Finland, China, Japan, Ukraine, etc. etc., and to reform its governmental, economic, industrial, and military infrastructure in a manner that makes it clear that Russia is finally ready to become a responsible nation among other nations — for the sake of an abundant and expansive human future.
That would not make vodka-swilling rednecks and pensioners of Russia happy, of course, but it might assure that Russia will have a future, and a good one at that.
Russian soldiers are dying in Ukraine, but the Kremlin will not admit how many (It’s a state secret)
All in all, it looks as if Russia is flailing badly, needs a great deal of outside help, but so badly wants to be feared by the western world that it is willing to go down in a great ball of flames, burning as much of the rest of the world as possible.