I agree with your other commenter here; if Russia is the baby and Putin and Co. are its bathwater, don't discard the baby with the bathwater. Wasn't it Lord Acton who said evil only requires good men do nothing? Too many good men did nothing for too long and allowed Putin his megolamanic fantasy. A pattern old as time and not patented by Russians. Though they have put their signature on it since at least Lenin. Pretty to think Putin will step off a scaffold one day as Saddam and Eichman did, or cower in a bunker to the drone of Allied air above Berlin.
You are the second Russian I have read this century who offers real insight into the Motherland and its denizens. First was ex-Spetsnaz who survived the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan and immigrated to share stories affirming Kipling's observations back when the Raj tried the same thing with the East India Company, an analogue of sorts for Putin's Wagner Group. (They could have consulted Alexander about the perils of the Khyber Pass.)
I grew up in Florida. The very notion of a Russian food store in Boca Raton is a mind-bender. Where I live now it's the Korean Grocer's Assn, rows of stores without English signage, in some cases nudging out the traditional Japanese. American diversity. The diversity I for one hoped Russia would emulate after the Evil Empire crumbled and McDonald's opened in Miscow. Unfortunately the United States never follows through on its victories. We quit and go home, and in this case left evil men who were spear carriers in the Evil Empire to plot and conspire and rise to power on the back of a drunk who mishandled his moment in the sun.
Parenthetically I wonder if farmer's cheese is what my Georgia grandparents (Oglethorpe's , not Stalin's) called "liver cheese." We got it at farmer's markets, as chickens secured upside down on a conveyor belt trundled overhead into the slaughter room.
My only in-person contact with Russians this century was during the nearest passage of Mars to Earth, when I encountered a woman and her grandmother on a Puget Sound seawall, there to see if they could see the Red Planet. I hadn't known of the historic passage. They told me it would be another several hundred years before it happened again. I suggested by then a trip to Mars would be no more than a trip from Moscow to Berlin. The little old lady lighted up at the idea. Her granddaughter translated: But I'm from Leningrad!
She survived the siege, her granddaugter said. And kept translating her grandmother's words. A small cupped careworn hand came forth; they gave us one handful of grain a day to live on, and if you spilled, too bad.
I was bemused by a person of age with those memories still being interested in a Mars passage. A memorable encounter. I didn't know what to think when she told her grandchild I closely resemble Stalin: big nose, eyebrows, pipe. Stalin had more head hair. They got a laugh when I said I was from the other Georgia. I was surprised the grandmother was such a fan of Stalin: I could hear the approval without translation; a strong man, her translator said. We needed a strong man.
You write well in English. I am reminded of Conrad; some of the language's best writers started out in other languages. I only read Dostoevsky in translation but I hate to see a writer tarred by the evils of a psycopathic creep and his sycophants. Writers are a country of their own, irrespective of nations. Goethe--nor Wagner--were responsible for Hitler.
Maybe Sholokhov is an antidote, for now? His translated tales of the Don still grace my book shelves. (A book I failed to return to the Old Jail Public Library in Nassau when I left the island, but that's another story.)