US & World

Prioleau Alexander: The Poverty Of Ukraine’s Socialism

“You probably think you’ve seen cruel poverty before … you have not.”

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Let me start by saying I’m a fan of Tucker Carlson. One of the things I enjoy about his reporting approach is that he is like Elon Musk, minus $60 billion dollars. Neither of them cares what you or I think — and sometimes say very controversial things. I may disagree, but it forces me to think through the issue, and figure out why I disagree.

That’s something grown-ups do. Critical thinking … not just a total absorption of the firehouse of infectious diarrhea blasted forth by Whoopie Goldberg.  

That said, Tucker recently fell for the same bullshit American socialists do: He went shopping in a Moscow grocery store and rode the Moscow subway, and was “shocked” by the nice, clean, orderly things he saw.  When I was younger and naïve, I might have fallen for the same thing. After all, Moscow must be like rest of the nation, right? But I, unlike Tucker and those on the left weeping for socialism, have seen the underbelly of this particular on hell on earth. Not the “long lines and cheap products” underbelly, but the real thing.

Left, right, or center, if you haven’t walked in the places I have walked, don’t bother remarking. Your “opinion” doesn’t matter. You might as well be offering your opinion on how it felt like to walk on the moon.



I’ve been to Ukraine three times on what Christians call “short-term mission trips.” Our trips entailed two primary teams: First was a team to preach the Gospel and teach about “healing prayer” to those interested … and the second team went out into the villages to deliver food to the poorest of the poor based on direction provided by a village leader. No one was asked to profess a belief in Jesus in order to receive the food; yes, we offered them the chance to ask questions, but it was simply a mission of mercy.

We were headquartered out of the city of Zertoma, and our host families were lovely, kind, and (thank God) entirely unaware of what a shit hole their city was (is). Zertoma is a classic Soviet Union city, where everything was designed and built by idiots — surely the most corrupt and connected “bidders.” The infrastructure is second world at best. The buildings are all drab, crumbling, and pathetic. Of course, none of the elevators worked, so some lucky souls got to live in a 20-story walk-up.

The two-lane highway from the Kiev airport to Zertoma is such a disaster, drivers created their own third lane… and drive in the dirt outside the left lane shoulder, going 60 mph. The roads in Zertoma are like the roads in ghettos in the United States, where residents can’t give enough money to politicians to get them to care. Potholes big enough to not only blow a tire but rip an axle off a car are common. Everything sucks.




Our hosts were oblivious. Yes, they know massive Kiev is an urban paradise, but they also know it is run by a mafia so brutal it scares other organized crime syndicates in America. Kiev isn’t “kinda-sorta” run by the mafia like Little Italy in NYC — it’s run-run by them. The mafia paid for the improvements to the Kiev airport so they could better move their products in and out of the country. Many of the major streets in Kiev have Parisian sidewalks 50-feet wide, and the mafia thugs simply park their Beemers on the sidewalk, outside the restaurant they’re patronizing.

The police do nothing, of course, because writing a ticket could get you dead. A drive through Kiev will expose you to dozens of the compounds owned by these psychopaths, with guards holding automatic Uzis standing in the street. Imagine seeing that in the upper west side of Manhattan: Former Navy Seals on the sidewalk, guarding gated homes.


Kiev, Ukraine (Steve Haslam)


Although I am not what one would call a “charismatic” Christian, I can tell you there is a palpable feel of Soviet-era evil in the air. If you are spiritual in any way, you’ll feel it if you go there.

So, back to our mission work. As I said, I was part of the “feed the poor” team in the impoverished villages team. How poor? We gave the sugar, flour, pasta, salt, cucumbers, onions, and bread – and some of the recipients wept with gratitude.

The place where we bought the food was at an outdoor market, which sold items in bulk; it doesn’t make sense to buy 60 three-pound bags of flour at the grocery store. The market was interesting — you’d never see anything like it in America, as flies sat munching and defecating on the raw meat — but it seemed to be a place where Americans might go for supplies if their area was leveled by a hurricane (minus the fly-covered meat, of course).

My initial thought was, “So this is Ukrainian poverty.” 


“You probably think you’ve seen cruel poverty before, but you have not…”


After my first hour in the villages, though, I was thinking, “that wasn’t povert – that was the urban middle-class.”

You probably think you’ve seen cruel poverty before, but you have not. The kind of poverty found in these villages is retched … they live in hovels, in a region that drops to minus-20 degrees in the winter. Filth covered 80-year-old men and women using only a hoe work the small plot of land behind their “home,” growing potatoes and a few vegetables. The roads running through these villages are like the mud-filled bogs that served as American roads in the Wild West. Driving a car on them is impossible.

You don’t see any donated clothes, goods or services like you see so frequently in nations where black and brown people reside. The men’s trousers have holes, because they’ve been wearing them for years. The stereotyped “cheerful babushkas” are anything but cheerful; 70-years devoid of medical care has them stooped and in pain, struggling to walk with a cane, hoping they can make to a bench where they can sit and pray for death.

Pray for death? Yes, that was a common prayer request.



The dentist who accompanied us offered a magical thing called Novocain, so residents waited for hours to see this no-pain dentist from America. The mouths they worked on were wracked with dental disease, and there simply wasn’t time to save any of the rotted and infected teeth—they had to be pulled. Every tooth extracted came with a carefully formed pocket of infected pus attached to the tooth’s rotten roots — a thing dentist’s call a “hickie.”

Many villagers invited us inside their homes — most had never seen an American, and wanted to spend at least a couple minutes talking to these novel creatures via our interpreters. In the homes of most elderly, the temperature is stifling — older folks become sensitive to the cold, and keep the place winterized year-round. In many cases, the smell was overwhelming — showers are rare, and the smell of body order and urine was overwhelming to our spoiled American noses. 

We sat with one older lady while she ate her lunch — pickled cucumbers, onions and radishes. Alcoholism among the men was so common, there was simply no stigma attached to it. When asked if they were addicted to vodka, men would simply reply, “Dah, dah.” There were very few children in the villages, as young parents did whatever it took to get their family into the city — any city, no matter how crappy.


“Through tears, they would confess that decades earlier they gave information to the KGB about their neighbors in exchange for gas heat…”


My wife, who was assisting the dentist, asked one afternoon if she could take a break and join us making deliveries to the homes. Given what she’d seen in the past few days, I didn’t object. I now know I should have, because during her experience in the first home, she slipped out quietly … and I found her in our van, crying.

From time to time I attended the prayer sessions, and the system was quite ingenious. Each attendee was offered a sheet of paper, which had a human body accompanied by arrows pointing to various areas that might be painful — knees, elbows, feet, etc. — with words written in both English and Ukrainian. Some ladies circled all of them.

All ladies circled “abortion” and “need for forgiveness.”  

Why they felt they needed forgiveness was the exact same, to a woman: Through tears, they would confess that decades earlier they gave information to the KGB about their neighbors, in exchange for gas heat being attached to their home.

What never occurred to them was that every home in the village had gas heat … which meant every other mother had done the same. In a place where winters reach 20-below, gas heat meant better odds of survival.


“These very real humans in Ukraine and Russia’s villages despair because they have nothing…”


There is nowhere in America entrenched in this level of poverty. Our homeless have it better than most Ukranians.

There is, however, the same level of despair in many parts of America, but that’s because we so often see the things we want, but don’t have. We covet others’ money and grown-up toys — nice cars, boats, vacations, dining at nice restaurants … the list goes on. In short, our despair is grounded in a lack of fun stuff, and the hours we’re required to work to attain the basics.

These very real humans in Ukraine and Russia’s villages despair because they have nothing … not even the basics.

It would be quite easy to “make it” in America if you worked, literally, from sun-up to sundown, ate homemade pickles as a meal, owned two pairs of pants and two shirts, and a few 20-year-old wool layers to ward off the cold. Look at your monthly budget, then eliminate restaurants, cable TV, cell phone, internet, evenings out, all insurance, car payments and repairs, air-conditioning, appliances, medical care, decorating, computer/printer, new clothing/shoes, Starbucks, vacations, and all retirement savings.

That’s real socialism. 

Of course, not for the people of Kiev … or Moscow … the economy is always good where they make the laws and print the money. I’ve been to Kiev, but I can tell you it’s far more beautiful than any city in America. Think Rockefeller Center at Christmas, covering all five boroughs.



And socialism does keep a city clean and fairly crime free. Of course that’s because the police can beat you unconscious for littering, and petty criminals can be murdered by the mafia for interfering with their business. Oh, and forget about any sort of “alternative paper” criticizing the powers that be. Sure, you can write about “City Hall,” but not the Mafia running the show.

That gets you dead.

The socialism in Russia and Ukraine is real … and Scandinavian “socialism” isn’t socialism. It isn’t even socialism light. In fact, Scandinavian socialism might be closer to what America once was than what America is now.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to a Swede …



Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is the author of four books: ‘You Want Fries With That?,’ ‘Dispatches Along the Way,’ ‘Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?‘ and ‘They Don’t Call It The Submission Process For Nothing.’ 



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Putin’s Puppets February 23, 2024 at 1:19 pm

Why would you like Tucker Carlson?

He was shown in court to be knowingly lying to viewers and even did his weird high-pitched giggle about it.

So, this blogger openly admired well known liars. Why would anyone want to read beyond the first paragraph, excerpt to see how many more lies can be put out there in one blog ost.

Republicans are either too stupid to realize they are useful idiots or are knowingly using Russian propaganda in the hopes of turning the United States into an authoritarian nightmare.

Which is it, traitors?

Tom Jones February 23, 2024 at 2:05 pm

“Let me start by saying I’m a fan of Tucker Carlson.”

Didn’t read any further.

Greg February 23, 2024 at 8:54 pm

If you are a “fan” of a very well know liar and cuck for dictators (that interview with Putin was one of the most embarrassing and emasculating displays ever) you are a truly sad person.

Watching the Republicans embrace of weakness, lies, lawlessness and authoritarianism has been shocking.

Republicans now openly show disdain for democracy and freedom, while acting as a collective Tucker Carlson. Liars, suck ups to evil and worshippers of a fat senile asset of Putin.

This blogger is down with all that….I’m assuming. Didn’t make past the gushing over that goofy lying fuckboy.

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VERITAS Top fan February 23, 2024 at 9:09 pm

GREAT article! Ignore the pacifier-sucking toddies. They’ll never experience the once greatest country in the world. They’re too busy trading in their future and freedom for their safe zones and blankies.

No thanks, losers February 24, 2024 at 10:29 am

While you Republicans are trading our democracy for a Russian style shithole.

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VERITAS Top fan February 25, 2024 at 8:33 pm

Uh, we are a Republic – not a democracy. And what is the Russian-style s–th–e that you say anyone could possibly want for America? You must have missed that one day in high school when they taught everything about history. No thanks, loser.

Dum Spiro Spero Top fan February 23, 2024 at 10:52 pm

I commend you for your Christian principles and your actions in trying to help less fortunate fellow human beings. But admitting to being a fan of Tucker Carlson is somewhat of a non sequitur, wouldn’t you admit?

Terminator44 Top fan February 24, 2024 at 12:52 pm

It never ceases to amaze me when I read the jack-assery written on this site. I happen to like most of what Tucker Carlson says. So what? I am also capable of rational thought and do not simply consume everything that every person says. That is why you have a brain. Most the morons who have left comments here “stopped reading” after the first line. These same idiots have probably never been to a foreign country to see how truly poor people live. And no, the hotel zone in Cancun is not a depiction of “real life” in Mexico. I doubt “Greg” or this other idiot “Putin’s Puppet” have ever served in an enlisted role (or as a commissioned officer) in a real armed service, like the Army or the Marine Corps. You clowns are pathetic!

So What? February 26, 2024 at 7:39 am

“I happen to like most of what Tucker Carlson says. So what?”

His blatant lies cost his former employer hundreds of millions of dollars.

If a car mechanic cost his shop hundreds of thousands of dollars for constantly ruining cars that came in, would YOU want him working on your car?

If a doctor had been sued by patients for malpractice to the tune of millions, would YOU want him performing your open heart surgery?

If you are intent on listening to a professional liar and trying to parse out what bits of truth might accidentally escape his mouth, that’s really on you, but you’re admitting to being a sucker for a scam artist.

Mark Thomas February 25, 2024 at 5:34 pm

Try as I might, I cannot come up with the point of this article. Was it you have seen poverty? Was it you are a Christian? If your point is you have seen extreme poverty and you want to tell us about it; ok, many of us have seen extreme poverty. The poverty of Ukraine is no worse than the poverty of Bangladesh, many parts of India, many parts of Africa, and even the jungles of Guatemala and Honduras. Most of the world is desperately poor. Large swaths of the Earth’s surface are inhabited by people who don’t know if they will eat tomorrow or if they will have clean water to drink. There are virtually unlimited opportunities for Christians, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and help those fleeing oppression. And there are equally as many opportunities for us to fail in doing so.

If the point of this article was you are a Christian, well ok; but it’s obvious that you came away from whatever experience you had with no love or compassion for the people of Ukraine; since you are willing to sit back and watch Russia’s war criminal dictator, bomb them into oblivion and say nothing or worse urge others to do nothing. Christians come away from seeing those in extreme poverty thinking, dear God, there is so much need and so little time, what can I do? Christians see those being oppressed and those fleeing oppression with charity and compassion. You seem to have come away with disgust and ambivalence. I wish you well and pray for you as you give Christianity a try. But it seems as though Christ’s teachings are not really your thing yet. It’s not surprising. I feel the same way about a lot of people in the US who like to play at being Christian.

But if I am mistaken please enlighten me. What was the point of this article?

CongareeCatfish Top fan February 26, 2024 at 1:51 pm

Stab in the dark here, but my takeaway from the article was that some people can be fooled by socialist nation hellholes by means of their taking one or two large cities, making them appear clean, orderly and generally awesome, when in actuality everywhere else outside of the Capital people are living in the Realsville (TM) of abject, grinding poverty (somewhat like the dystopian Hunger Games, which was actually drew its inspiration from the real iron curtain european soviet satellite nations). And he also stresses that said poverty is at a level that most Americans have no concept of or experience with. He is trying to tell us that that is basically what Ukraine is like: Kiev and perhaps one other major city looks really nice, but you get out into the ‘burbs or the sticks, and shit gets very harrowingly real – and it’s a world apart from Capital City.

Frank February 27, 2024 at 7:35 pm

Well, that is strange because Ukraine is no more socialistic than most European countries. In fact, they banned the Communist Party in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union. They do provide universal health care, like every other first-world country except the US. Ukraine probably has about the same level of socialism as Spain, Greece, and Italy. Ukraine lived under the Russian boot for a long time, and now it is being bombed into oblivion for breaking free of its Russian masters and trying to make life better for its people by becoming a pro-western democracy.

I can’t understand why the Republicans have become so pro-Russian. One might think the entire party has been bought and paid for, but it’s likely only because of one man, who as the former Prime Minister of Australia said in a recent interview has always had a weird hero worship of Putin.

Red Uprising February 26, 2024 at 7:41 am

“What was the point of this article?”

Showing us he has absolutely no understanding of what socialism is.

I mean, we know. He demonstrates it all the time. I don’t want to ruin his enthusiasm for it though.

Frank February 26, 2024 at 1:02 pm

I truly regret Tucker did not choose to make the beautiful city of Moscow his permanent home. After all, he loves it there and the grocery stores are wonderful. The Russian Government loves him. They feature his broadcasts on their propaganda channels all the time. And Putin welcomed him, even though he implied he was an idiot to his face.

I don’t know why more Trumpers and right-wingers don’t want to move there. They hate the same people you guys do. They hate gay people, they hate the Ukrainians, they hate NATO, they hate Biden, they hate minorities, they think a woman’s place is in the home, and they hate people who want to live in a democracy. Plus, they love Trump. It’s a match made in heaven. Please give this due consideration.


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