Hi there, Prin… I mean, King Willem-Alexander. It is I, your ever loving friend Frank with an open letter coming your way. I almost misspoke there in the opening sentence because I’m still getting used to you being the king and not the prince. Old habits die hard, eh? But that’s not even talking about how much effort it takes me to remind myself that Russia is actually called Russia and no longer the UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALISTS REPUBLICS.
That little comparison there is no coincidence, because the Uni… I mean, Russia is exactly where you’ll be going next month, off to meet Vladimir ‘Vlad’ Putin. No small feat, because Mother Russia has been gathering negative attention lately for being an international bully, not unlike that fat guy in the back of the class who would spend his recess time burning ants with the magnifying glass he stole from the class nerd. The guy who would later grow up to be that annoying jock who is not invited to your party but shows up anyhow and starts hitting on your sister. Yes, Putin’s Russia has been a bad boy lately, and I don’t have to tell you why, right?
You know what, I’m going to tell you anyway, because sometimes it’s just fun to let go and rant. I’m sure you and Putin will have lots to talk about during your state visit. After all, 2013 is the bilateral Netherlands-Russia year, celebrating hundreds of years of Dutch-Russian solidarity and cooperation (as long as we carefully ignore that whole Cold War thingie, that was just tacky). Because damn it, it’s nice to know and celebrate that we have a historical trade connection that didn’t revolve around shipping as many black people as possible into slavery.
But disregard for human life did not suddenly get hammered into our social and political consciousness as soon as we made up those Universal Human Rights thingies. Russia, itself quite careless about the lives of even its own citizens (I’ll get back to you on that in the following paragraphs) has so far been Bashar Al-Assad’s strongest ally, with China cautiously taking a back-seat to the international debate about what to do with the Syrian uprising. We all quickly got over the idea of Dennis Rodman having a sleep-over at Kim Jong-Un’s house because hey, he’s Dennis freaking Rodman. But tell me honestly, my dear Willem-Alexander, are you looking forward towards seeing your face in the newspapers, sitting right next to Putin at his dinner table while you busily not-discuss his political support to one of the most despised despots of our time? I sure hope that last question was rhetorical.
And while we’re on the subject of Russia’s neglect for its own people: dear Willem-Alexander, please do us a favor and politely – ever so politely! – inform mister Putin just how Nadezhda Tolokonnikovaw, member of the notorious band Pussy Riot, is holding out in her cell. Because based of what we hear from her, things aren’t going so well right now. Recently, the world was exposed to a letter she wrote from the prison where she is to serve her two year sentence. Next to beatings and death threats, there is a constantly increasing work quota that makes it impossible for the prisoners to comply with the demands (just like that air force commander in Catch-22, remember?). This will not stand, Willem-Alexander! Because damn it, this rock-chick isn’t even close to reaching that terminal age of 27 and she’s already in mortal peril. And all this just because her band recorded a music video in a church? Only in Russia…
Totally worth it, though.
Well then, my dear WA, this brings us to the last point of this already too long letter. When you and Putin are sizing each other up over a cup of coffee (or Vodka, it’s hard for me to think outside of the box), are you going to bring up the issue of LGBT rights? Man, it must be embarrassing for you, king of the first country to legalize gay marriage and to host the most famous annual Gay Pride, to sit across the new poster-boy for homophobia. What’s that, Russia? Capitalism stopped being the number one threat, so now you resort to gay bashing? муда́к!
Willem-Alexander, I hope you will do the right thing (i.e.: the Dutch thing) and meet mister Putin in style. So whip out those pink wooden shoes, hang that Pussy Riot shirt over your broad and kingly shoulders, and enter the presidential room by first stomping on a defiled picture of Al-Assad. Trust me, just the look on Putin’s face will be worth it (you should totally Instagram that shit).
Your monarchy-loving pal Frank