The division between Russia and the Western world has been growing for several years. Even though I was born in a Russian community in Kazakhstan, I myself have had harsh judgements of my own culture. This feeling of distance resulted in my choice to travel to Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia.
I found myself noticing a substantial difference between Russia's political system and the lives of the people. On the one hand, the autocratic system creates a political climate of mistrust and erodes solidarity in the society, while at same time there is so much warmth, joy, and diversity beyond the distanced facade of the Russian people.
Unfortunately, that human side is largely hidden in private. It is reserved for home and is shared primarily with friends and family.