Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov found time in his busy schedule last week to personally respond to Miriam Elder’s whining about her dry-cleaning. Gotta love the sarcasm in the letter he published in the Guardian:
I am sorry to hear about Miriam Elder’s experience at the dry cleaners, in which she lost her receipt and so had an hour of her time “stolen” in providing the necessary personal details to retrieve her woollies (Red-tape Russia, G2, 24 April). But I am also amazed that this anecdote can be passed off as any sort of insight into the state of Russia today.
By all means, the Russian government understands there is work to do in cutting red tape: it is a high priority and we have seen substantial progress in recent years, as foreign businessmen operating here testify. Moreover, other countries, the UK included, have room for improvement on this front too.
Let me remind British readers of the thousands of hours that are “stolen” from Russian citizens when they complete the UK’s visa application forms, which are a whopping 10 pages. The time, money, effort and inconvenience that Russians face in obtaining UK visas put Ms Elder’s ordeal into perspective.
Quite unbelievably, Elder was petty enough to write a response, which can be found here.
Elder’s original post is here, it’s not worth reading other than to add context to the exchange. Dry cleaning in Russia is mad expensive, that’s all there is to it.
The best take on the whole affair belongs to Guardian reader Boris Barnet, who posted the below comment on the Guardian’s message board:
can’t work up much passion over the dry cleaning issue – actually I’ve never been to a dry cleaners in Russia and when I asked a Russian friend about bureaucracy and dry cleaners she couldn’t answer because she’d never been either. I guess all the passion that Elder brings to this question is due to the fact that like most foreign correspondents she lives a pretty circumscribed life and these molehills tend to become mountains….
Thanks to HS, SB, and MH for the links.