Russia vs. Iran: An introduction

For many reasons, Russia has always been a source of agitation to us Iranians. For one, Iranian history is replete with attacks by Russia; its occupation; Iran’s northern parts were annexed by it; Iran’s National Assembly was shelled by it, and of course there have been many unfulfilled promises. That is why we have a saying in Iran whenever something goes politically wrong: “it is either the Russians or the British!”

On the other hand Russia has been always a source of power, and when that source is that much closer it could be immensely influential.It could lead to the creation of one of the most powerful parties in history of Iran, Tudeh Party. It could be a winning card in nuclear talks, and its expertise could be used in oil and gas industry.

So, when I decided to come to Russia, I had all these perplexing pieces of information in mind. I was not very optimistic. My history teacher’s voice kept being repeated in my head,”those who do not learn from history soon will be remembered for making the same mistakes their ancestors did”. I went to the embassy, still pessimistic. There was a seventy-ish, disabled lady seated next to her cane in front of the Russian embassy in Tehran. She was shouting about how Russians separated Iran into pieces. Passersby were gaping in amazement. That image didn’t help at all. Inside the embassy, I got my first glimpse of Russia, or at least a sample of it. I had been told my smiles would not be reciprocated… some of them were! I had been told there would be some bureaucracy…there was more. Getting the visa took one week.

I bought the cheapest ticket possible to Saint Petersburg. Two days later, I was here.

 POURANG ZARIF

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