It is framed in the style of a letter penned a betrayed, bitter boyfriend who was taken advantage of. While the piece is conceived as a condemnation of the US as a "dying" empire, it could also be read as a self-indictment of sorts, which this confession was not meant to be:
"When we were teens, growing up in the early 90s; most of my friends the same age did not even question their attitude toward Western civilization. It was great, how could it be otherwise?
Finally, we would quench our sensory deprivation. ... It’s hard to believe now, but even the Orthodox Church coming out from under communist supervision was for us the same thing as the triumph of Western liberal values. The celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia and the first concert of the Scorpions in Moscow with their “Winds of Change” — was, for us, all part of the same thing.
The war in Iraq and even the breakup of Yugoslavia mostly escaped our attention, somehow. And it was not just that we were young and carefree. I, for one, was already trained in the “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, in the International Department. I was monitoring the English Reuters feed that was full of Izetbegovic, Karadzic and Mladic, but somehow did not take all these events seriously. It was somewhere far away, and not in our area. And, of course, the war in the Balkans did not fit within any kind of anti-Western storyline for me. ... [a case when "of course" may be read apologetically, but also as a case where assumed self-evidence stands in the place of numbed self-reflection, which abounds here]
In 1990 we voted for “Yabloko” democrats, went to the White House barricades on the side of democratic forces, watched the newborn CHANNEL and listened to the echo of Moscow radio. Our first journalistic articles always mentioned the “civilized world” and we firmly believed that it was really civilized. ...
The smart liberal hosts on NTV kept explaining that dropping bombs on [Belgrade in 1999], a large European city is a bit much, of course, but Milosevic is the greatest bastard in recent history, so he deserves it, no big deal. Their “Dolls” satirical show portrayed the events as a good quarrel in a communal apartment, where a drunken neighbor torments “Miss Kosovo” and no one in the house can help, except for her lover with a powerful torso and the face of Bill Clinton. We looked ... [but it] was no longer funny. ...
The parade of “color revolutions” seemed to be petty mischief until the last. ....
We see the blood and war crimes, the bodies of women and children, an an entire country sliding back into the 1940s – and the Western world, which we loved so much, assures us that none of this is happening. The culture which brought us Jim Morrison, Mark Knopfler, and the Beatles, does not see it. The descendants of Woodstock, and the participants themselves; the aged hippies who sang, “All you need is love” so many times, do not see it. .... For me and for many thousands of middle-aged Russians, who came into the world with the American dream in our heads, the myth of the “civilized world” collapsed completely. The horror is deafening. There is no more “civilized world.” And it’s not just the shattering of youthful ideals, but a very serious danger. Mankind has lost its values, turned into a mob of predators, and a huge war is simply a question of time.
Twenty years ago, we were not defeated. We surrendered. We did not lose militarily, but culturally. We really just wanted to be like them. Rock-n-roll did more than all the nuclear warheads. Hollywood was stronger .... America, you are such a fool! All you had to do was wait twenty years — and we would have been forever yours. [just to wait till these post-Soviet middle-aged men reach safely their retirement age?] Twenty years of vegetarianism — and our politicians themselves would have handed over our nuclear weapons; even shaking your hands in gratitude for taking them away. What a blessing that you turned out to be such a fool, America!
You do not even know us! We shouted these words, among others, toward the Kremlin just two years ago. Since then, thanks to you, America, the numbers of those who want to go out into squares have fallen dramatically. .... You were a cool country once, America. Your moral superiority rose over Europe after WWI and was reinforced after WWII. Yes, you had Hiroshima, Vietnam, KKK and a closet full of other skeletons, like any [like any?] empire. But for a time all that crap [that crap??] did not reach the critical mass that turns wine into vinegar. ... It’s been a while since you wrote any songs sung round the world [Cathy Perry? Lady Gaga anyone?]. You’re squandering your main asset – moral superiority [was this the main asset? Self-praise? Not $?]. ... We, the people who have been through the sunset of our empire, could even explain what you are doing wrong. But we will not."
PS: "America, we did not care about the Southern Slavs in Yugoslavia, we only cared about you and ourselves. We wanted to hold hands and screw the world together with you. It did not occur to us that you would want to screw us too like all those others. We thought that you would make us a new Germany or a Singapore. Now we are getting screwed and that's so unfair. It was never supposed to be this way for we were so good and so morally superior--together--over all the others, even over all the other Slavs--and we were buying the myth of your moral superiority. We were truly buying it! You were such a fool!"
The article is entitled "The Russia They [= the US] Lost." Perhaps it should read instead: "The Russia Which these Russians Have Been Losing ... For Whom "All [This Was] Part of the Same Thing and It Is No Longer Funny."