The demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant Russia's separation from 15 of the republics that had previously constituted the USSR. That by no means left Russia a homogeneous nation, for there are still dozens of ethnic minorities living in the vast reaches of the Russian republic. Appealing to these diverse groups, from the rebellious Chechens and Ingush of the Caucasus region to the Uighurs, Mongolians, and Koreans of central and eastern Siberia, is a tremendous challenge for any presidential candidate.
But just imagine the culinary potential! If either Boris Yeltsin or Gennady Zyuganov could harness the power of the palate across their land, bringing together the flavors of a transcontinental country into one huge, ongoing feast, with Russians and Chechens and Mongols and all the others sitting at an enormous banquet table, breaking bread and drinking vodka together, wouldn't that be a remarkable force for peace and stability?
Let's see, perhaps we could start with something truly Russian, like jellied beet borscht. We'd follow with a Mongolian barbecue of beef and succulent lamb. As a side dish we might serve Georgian beans with plum sauce. And for dessert, Gypsy tart.
Yes, it will be quite a repast, and at the end of it we will have forgotten all those trivial matters that divided us -- language, culture, politics.
Ah, but we fantasize...
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