The recent arrest and sentencing of the Russian female punk band "***** riot" to two years in a labour camp, for public disturbance should be a disturbing event for anyone interested in the basic freedoms that we in the west take for granted. The chief prosecutor in this case even put forward the argument that the girls should receive at least seven years confinement for their anti-government protest activities. But for me, the events of the past week signal the onset of a depressing and bleak future for the Worlds largest country, and for its people, an even more impoverished existence and reduced quality of life. And in a country which was just starting to embrace several areas of human rights, including freedom of speech, and the right to protest. Is it the first step back to the past, where authoritarianism ruled with an iron fist for decades? Of course only time will tell. Having visited and worked in Russia, and travelled widely, I was always fascinated by the optimism and enthusiasm of its people, despite all the odds, and their genuine warmth and friendliness towards foreigners. But being no longer there, I now doubt that I could ever return, and certainly not with any of the feelings which once inspired me. The politics of a country does and should matter, at least to anyone contemplating moving and working there. It is all pervasive in every aspect of the lives of its people , at least in most if not all non-western countries. So if you wish to engage fully in the foreign experience surrounding your appointment then please realise that it is not just about the day-to day dealings with colleagues within the confines of an international school, joining with the expats at the pub on Friday nights etc. Mix with the people, learn something of their hopes and fears for the future, and try to understand how these are related to the nuances of their government. Only then can you truly say that you know something about your adopted country. Your thoughts please.