St. Petersburg. In the Venice of the North, except the canals ice over here. One thing I have found throughout my travels in the world, currently in Russia, is that people are the same everywhere. Whether it's a rich or poor country. They want to have a job. They want peace. They want a family. And they want to be able to put food on the table. It's the respective governments and politics that force the people to be different. But we're seeing the people stand up now, probably not in a way that we've seen for many decades. In neighboring Ukraine, it's nearly a civil war, and the nationwide strike may bring the country to its knees. The people understand this; indeed, they are the ones who hold the power to do this. But they understand that the suffering they experience now will, in their hopes, bring peace and prosperity to generations ahead. At the same time, the consensus here in Russia, among the people that I enjoy vodka with, is that they are selecting in their next president between bad and worse.
It's a very interesting time here. Certainly people are nervous for what the future holds economically, and if the government will truly move the pendulum back to Soviet ways. But there's also a very low ebb of hope and promise. You can feel it very slightly in the people. However, I've only been to the two major cities thus far, here and Moscow. In a few days I go into the heart of Russia, to small cities and towns, where I've been told universally that "you will see the hardship of our country where the millions of our people struggle every day to survive."