May 30, 2014 | RUSSIAN GLAS•NOT

Caucasus Boys: The Young & The Restless

Mother Russia, the Angelina Jolie of adoption-inclined countries, has for quite some time now, together with her spouse Vlad, been prolifically taking under its nurturing wing wayward toddler-regions, cast aside or mistreated by their foster homes, in need of a father-figure to look up to and a mother's fertile breast to suckle on. Not to mention that family photos (aka maps) always look better the more the extensive its members.

 

One of those toddlers taken into foster care (circa mid-90's), the precariously almost-fictional country of Abkhazia, all grown up now into a typical rowdy and rambunctious teenage boy, has as of late not been that perky (or more precisely, even less perky than usual). Abkhazia, a bastard child of neighboring Georgia, was clutched brutally away from its allegedly suffocating mother's bosom in a short family spat two decades ago, or more accurately it emancipated itself,  at such as young age no less, with some help and guidance from its adopted mother Russia.

 

As any licensed social worker will tell you, foster kids quite often behave passive-aggressively, fueled both by gratitude and resentment towards their new guardians, as well as nostalgia and indignation towards their biological parent and a desire for self-determination, so Abkhazia's erratic behavior is nothing unexpected. Together with its other foster siblings, South Ossetia, Transnistria & Nagorno-Karabakh, the latter relying more on its Armenian godmother for pocket-money, they have being loitering the alleys of the Caucasus doing what adolescent boys do, sulk, lash out and play chicken. In essence they are going through that awkward transformation from childhood to adulthood, trying to calibrate their identity,  test their limits  and find their place in the world. And of course, being a paradigm of teenage angst and rebellion to the younger generations  (see twin menace Donetsk & Lugansk).

 

The situation becomes more complex if we factor in the recent addition to the Russian family of a cheeky girl called Crimea.  Of course Crimea, in contrast with the Caucasus boys, is no mere foster kid as she has been formally adopted, i.e. got the family name and a copy of the house's keys. But that's only because she was related to Russia in the first place (a farcical yet tragic story that includes a teenage pregnancy, a generous paterfamilias and a sterile cousin). Thereby she can now, from the comfort of its mother-Russia's lap on the master-suite balcony, point to its boyish half-siblings on their skimpy bunk-beds, restricted to the outhouse in the back yard, and giggle self-righteously.

 

Not that young, adrenaline-fuelled Abkhazia wants to follow Crimea's footsteps into the family mansion, at least not whole-heartedly.  As any rebel without a cause (or confusedly too many causes), he schizophrenically wants simultaneously less supervision, fewer ground rules & no curfews, as well as the keys to his father's sports-car, a hefty allowance & mum's laundry service. Hence the current internecine strife.

 

Erratic teenage behavior is not exclusive to the foster-gang of course (boys will be boys after all), it has also been observed in Russia's other offspring. Young, pugnacious Chechnya for example caused quite a kerfuffle in her formative years striving to escape mother-Russia's  overbearing, suffocating bear-hug and father-Putin's restrictive grip. As any concerned parent would,  they considered the disaffected youngster way too immature and irresponsible to do as she pleased. They thought she was going through a deliquent "phase" so to speak, perniciously influenced by the Caucasus Boys' shenanigans and probably by violence-promoting video-games. They therrfore employed a tough-love approach, again and again, to teach it some necessary discipline.