"Russia is a country that doesn't seem to know what it is in 2015," said author Gary Shteyngart, who was locked in the posh Four Seasons Hotel in New York City and made to watch only Russian TV for a week.
From the TV programs, it seemed like Russia was trying to figure out if it is a Western country, an Asian country, or a Eurasian country, or something else, Shteyngart said.
According to the author, if Russia was a normal country with a normal economy, it would be a natural thing for Russia to become European. But it's not. And instead, the state media portrays Russia as a country that has to be an exceptional super power at all costs.
"So many of the shows were American, but so many of the news programs made you feel like Russians were surrounded by European gays on one side and Ukrainian fascists on the other side," Shteyngart said.
The relentless message is maddening, Shteyngart said.
Shteyngart wrote about his experience for The New York Times Magazine. He is an associate professor at Columbia University and is the author of "Little Failure" and "Absurdistan," among others.
Hromadske International's Ian Bateson and Nataliya Gumenyuk spoke with Shteyngart via Skype on Saturday, March 14, 2015.