20 - 40(67)
Dmitry, theater directing student, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is, above all, a patriot, of course, but at the same time, he or she can be a citizen of the world, like Solzhenitsyn.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have never done anything patriotic. I have not done anything significant for Russia. Unless one considers patriotic the fact that I performed my mandatory military service on my own accord without trying to worm out of it.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of the motherland and of the government are two absolutely different things. The government is supposed to serve the people. One of the lyrics by the Lumen rock band are, “I love my country so much, but I hate the state!” I cannot say that I hate the state, because I understand that sometimes the government has to resort to drastic measures with regard to the people. There is, however, nothing to love the government for.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots should disagree with the authorities. Everyone thinks differently. Our country is supposed to be a democratic one, which means that it is ruled by the people. Consequently, the people may disagree with what is happening within the government. The system should be organized in such a way as to make Russia a really democratic country and not a plutocratic one as it is now.

Have you considered emigration?

I have obviously thought about emigrating, but I have come to the conclusion that I should move my own country forward. I am proud to be living in Russia, because this is the largest country in the world. Russia has such a rich history compared to the United States, for example. I do not understand people who want to move abroad to build their careers there. I think people should build their careers in Russia to move the country forward. But I do not think I will stay in the Volgograd region. Lately, I do not like the atmosphere here and people’s attitude toward life and their country. People in Volgograd rarely demonstrate patriotic feelings, probably because since they were little, they have been seeing the authorities advocating respect for the battle of Stalingrad, and everybody is fed up with it. Everyone associates patriotism with this, and there are no other associations.

What do you think about migrants?

There can be no unambiguous attitude toward migrants. In fact, Russia has always depended on so-called “fresh blood.” Russia cannot be a self-isolated country, because this would result in the decay of the nation, as is happening in today’s Europe. How has the United States been pulling through, for example? People have always come to the United States: Italians, Germans, the Irish, Russians, Jews. There has always been some fresh blood. It is the same with Russia. The Russian people have recently started demonstrating such strong animosity toward natives of other countries—one day it is natives of the Caucasus, another day [people from] some other nation. This is, however, understandable: the majority of natives of the Caucasus conduct themselves improperly in Russia, as they never do in their own countries. My acquaintances who have visited the Caucasus always say that people there are hospitable, welcoming, and never rude to anyone. But when they come to Russia, they do not consider this country their home, and so they think that they can be rude, take whatever they fancy, and resort to violence.

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Aleksei, artist, born in Moscow, currently in New York

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who never wants to leave Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I do not think I have ever done anything patriotic. I think that a patriotic act is something you do to protect or to glorify the place where you were born and where you live, the place with which you identify yourself.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of the motherland and of the state are two different things. Love of the government is love of certain people or their specific actions. As for me, I cannot love such things. Love of the motherland is a more appropriate feeling; this is the affection that you have for your village or your neighborhood or, for example, Russian literature.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course you can be a patriot and disagree with the government. In my opinion, today, the so-called patriots are actually the ones who disagree with the authorities. I think that this is absolutely normal, since the government does not always do what is good for the state and, consequently, for its people, because there is no state without people. You cannot love an empty house: chances are, it is its inhabitants that you care for. Consequently, if you are a patriot of Russia, it is probably not some abstract Russian borders that you like, but the people who live in this country and their specific traits.

Have you considered emigration?

I am currently engaged in the emigration process. I am trying to leave Russia for good.

What do you think about migrants?

I have no specific attitude toward migrants. But I do not think they should be banished from the country. I think this is a natural process: people migrate from one part of the world to another. I am, so to speak, a labor migrant myself in the United States, and I know what it feels like to be a migrant. Moving from one county to another is very hard, especially considering that people do that because life is not a bed of roses. They have to work for peanuts while feeling despised by everyone around them. This is why I sympathize with migrants.

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Evgeniy, 27, forest ranger, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who respects Russian traditions and remembers Russian history.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I do not know if I have ever done anything patriotic. I do not think my actions have ever been so dignified as to be called patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are two different things. The state is a political notion and has little to do with such feelings as love.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I consider emigration every time I face bureaucratic issues created by our government bodies.

What do you think about migrants?

In general, I have a positive attitude toward migrants. They do not bother me. For example, my wife herself is sort of a migrant from Ukraine.

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Elena, brand manager, Sevastopol

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a patriot of his country. He's a person for whom spiritual is more important than tangibles. But foremost, it's important for a Russian to know that those who are close and dear to him, be it his family or friends, are safe and comfortable. He's a person who cares more for others than for himself. More or less like that.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I can say that I have abandoned my career for the sake of my family. Yes. I used to work as a national marketing manager in one international firm, and I understood that I can work in any country in the world, because this firm has 180 factories across the world. But I have decided to channel my energy towards my city, my relatives, so that their lives are better. I can spend my entire life earning a lot of money working for someone, making his dream come true. Or, I can spend my energy improving the world around me.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Of course not. Governments can be very different, and motherland is just one and will remain one and only one. These are absolutely different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course it's possible. Regarding the current government, what happened with Crimea, I'm most certainly thankful to the government that all of this has happened without any victims. I have lots of Ukrainian friends, including those who serve in the Navy. I am thankful that we don't have bombs dropped on us, and we don't have religious nor ethnic tensions. Crimea is a region where an ethnic conflict can start very easily. Everything was done very smartly and safely for the local population.

Have you considered emigration?

No, I never thought of immigration. I love my Sevastopol very much, I want to live here, and I want my children and my grandchildren to live here too. Of course, they will be making their own decisions, but I definitely want them to grow up in Sevastopol. And that's why I quit my job, though my boss thought I'm crazy for doing that.

What do you think about migrants?

Why not? This is their chance for a better life. It's important that people come with good intentions. If they are ready to respect traditions of this county and not to impose their own traditions, they are welcome. If they come here with good intentions – to live here and work, we will treat them nicely.

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Lera, fashion blogger, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who is capable of openly admitting his and his country’s vices. You can boast about your patriotism and close your eyes upon what’s really happening for as long as you wish. But you can also sincerely laugh at it, as at your own flaws—and at the same time remain a person who loves himself and his country while openly admitting that some things should still be worked on.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I didn’t attend the protests. I don’t know if congratulating veterans who live in your district can be called a patriotic act. In fact, patriotic acts were done during the war (WWII). I think that today, most of the people who commit so-called patriotic acts are just busy with self-promotion. They are very distantly connected with patriotism.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of your motherland and love of your government are absolutely different things. Very often we try to explain some of our flaws and problems by saying that it was the government that did something wrong, that a fish rots from the head down. But it’s not like that. If we began to pick up our litter in the streets, if we had astronomical fees for littering, like in Singapore, our life would become a lot better.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot might disagree with the government. Moreover, this happens in 90 percent of the cases.

Have you considered emigration?

I’d like to leave, but not because I dislike my country—I just want something more. I think that changing from one Russian city to another just makes things even-Steven. That is, if you’re running from rudeness at the passport office, from bribery amongst road policemen, from some other features of a genuinely Russian mentality, then it would be really useless to exchange Vladivostok for Moscow. You’ll face the same things there, but in Moscow everything will be more expensive and you’ll spend more time stuck in the traffic. If you want to escape from all those things I’ve named, you should change countries. And I’m inclined towards Asia more and more often. Maybe because it’s closer and I travel there a lot. I’m even ready to study Chinese. Lots of my friends have moved to China, Singapore, Thailand. Some own their own businesses, some got married (not necessarily to Asians—there are many expatriates there), and they all live well. So far, my favorite city in the word is Shanghai.

What do you think about migrants?

If they live in Uzbekistan and earn $100 per month, then, of course, the $500 that they can earn when they come here is a huge sum of money for them. We all rebel against the fact that the jobs of janitors, builders, and post-office workers are occupied by citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and other former Soviet republics who live poor lives in their countries. But Russians simply don’t want to work at ordinary jobs: we’ve only got lawyers, economists, promoters, designers, photographers, bloggers—anyone you like.

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Ilya, software engineer, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

I suppose a real Russian is someone who considers Russia his or her motherland, someone who likes living here. I think someone who lives in a different country cannot be considered Russian. A person can be an ethnic Russian and live in a different country, but in order to be Russian, he or she has to live in Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have experienced patriotic emotions, but I do not think I have ever performed any patriotic deeds.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are not the same thing. As a matter of fact, I do not understand what love for the government is. I do understand what love for the motherland is, but not for the government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think that people can and should disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

I have thought about emigration, but I have not yet seriously considered the idea of moving anywhere.

What do you think about migrants?

On a case-by-case basis, I do not care if someone comes to Russia. But in general, I do not much like it when you come along the street and see more migrants than locals. I have nothing against migrants, but in general I do not really like this picture.

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Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.

Guy de Maupassant. My Uncle Sosthenes
Rukiya, nurse, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who serves his people, feels for his people.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

To do a patriotic act means making something better for your people. I haven’t done anything like that, I guess.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of your motherland and love of your government are almost the same thing. Those who are in the government, they also work for their motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can’t be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel fine towards migrants. Everyone lives and works where he’s destined to.

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Natalia, 38, entrepreneur, Sevastopol

What makes someone a real Russian?

I rarely meet real Russians in my life. Honestly, I don't know who they are. I have very little connections to Russia. Unless one counts the Black Sea fleet, Soviet Union, I actually have no connection at all to Russia. I don't have Russian friends, I don't have relatives in Russia, I have never been to Russia. When I was very little I've been to Moscow and St Petersburg, it was still Soviet Union, and I don't remember those trips. In my world there's no Russia. What I can tell about Russians is what I see on TV, in the movies, or read on Facebook.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Probably not. What would be considered patriotic today? So, I would want to do something patriotic, but what, and for what purpose? I don't know. I know that Ukrainians wear their traditional embroided shirts and help the Ukrainian army. That's their patriotism. But to do that in Sevastopol now, is very stupid. I think if I put on a traditional embroided shirt, it's not going to be a patriotic act, it's going to be a crazy act.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Absolutely not. These are absolutely different concepts. Ukraine is my motherland, one third of my life was spent there. All of my life, my family – everything is Ukrainian. But the politics in Kyiv now, the parliament, the president – that's a totally different concept. People are separate from the government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Yes, of course. I think if one was to answer the previous question by saying that people and the government are one and the same, as it should be in a normal country, then it means that people, the nation, the government – they all have one thing to strive for and that's the country's welfare. Since in Ukraine, the government has it's own goal, and the people have their own, so my answer is clear.

Have you considered emigration?

Of course, all the time. We don't want our children to live here, neither in Russia, nor in Ukraine. Despite my love for Ukraine, despite the people, who are very kind, generous, happy and good, I don't want my children to live here. And it's not because of the country nor the people, but because of the regime. Overall, it's because of the Soviet Union, which still exists. People say, Soviet Union fell apart, but in reality it's still here, everywhere, in us, in all of us, and I don't want my children to know what it is. It's very sad.

What do you think about migrants?

I don't really think about them. They come to work. I think that overall, the person should work where he was born. And in an ideal world, every country will have such living conditions that people won't need to leave seeking work elsewhere. I know that in my motherland, in Western Ukraine, lots of people leave to work abroad. Even my parents have left for Poland, they work there. Of course, they are not your typical migrant workers. My father has a good position at a factory in Gdansk. If they have an opportunity to earn much more than at home, why not? Lots of my fellow countrymen go to Russia, Moscow, or to Europe, for better pay. There are no jobs back home. Yet I remember when everyone had a job, everyone lived prosperous. That was the time. I just don't like people who leave their homes to look for work, I'd rather see them find what to do at home.

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Maks, 31, entrepreneur, Alushta

What makes someone a real Russian?

That's a tough question. I can't really answer it yet, because I became Russian myself just recently. I am not even sure what they look like. I haven't understood it yet.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

A real patriotic act? Probably not. First comes patriotism, patriotic acts follow. Here, we don't really love nor respect anyone, it's difficult to do something patriotic.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

No, absolutely no. Government is one thing, and motherland is completely different.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Yes.

Have you considered emigration?

I constantly think about this. I wake up thinking about immigration and go to bed thinking the same.

What do you think about migrants?

They are hostages of the current situation: nothing to do at home and looking for easy money.

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Khan, 29, migrant worker, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who was born in Russia.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are two different things. I love my motherland more.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I agree. I will do whatever I am told to do, if it is work related. I do not commit any crimes.

What do you think about migrants?

There are migrants all over Europe. Some work, others study, still others just take it easy. Life made me come here to earn money. If I had work at home, I would not have come here.

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Dina, 34, event planner, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who lives in Russia and tries to do something for his or her country instead of whining about how bad life in Russia is. The roads are poor? Well, yes, they are.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have a degree in teaching. Not that I have ever done anything patriotic, but I believe that the notion of patriotism should be present in the children’s educational system. People cannot grow up normally without this notion—they cannot understand certain things, they cannot mature.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and love for the government are entirely unrelated. You can love your country without loving its government. You can love the city you live in without loving the people who rule it.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. These things are unrelated. It is really a difficult question for me, because I support Putin and do not understand all this talk about what a monster Putin is. I just cannot understand this. There are certain things for which Putin is not the only one responsible. We too should assume responsibility on a daily basis. For example, my husband and I know absolutely nothing about giving bribes. And apparently, nobody who has ever seen our faces would even think about offering us a bribe. I do come across kickbacks at work, but they all go not through me but through the principal: unlike me, he knows how to deal with this.

Have you considered emigration?

I thought about emigration when I was in school and my friend moved to the United States. She used to call me and tell me that I too should come to the United States. Today, however, I cannot even imagine living anywhere else but in Volgograd. I could pack and move somewhere else—I have skills, and I am still young enough—but what for? I am all right where I am.

What do you think about migrants?

My attitude toward migrants is ambivalent. My friend who is an ethnic Armenian and has long assimilated—her parents came to Russia in the 1950s—once told me that she is sometimes ashamed for those whom this new immigration wave is bringing to Russia nowadays. Our city being cosmopolitan, we socialize with all sorts of people. And people are widely different—some are easy to get along with, some are not. I do not have this “Away with wogs!” attitude. Everything should be within the limits of legislation, except that in our country, legislation does not work.

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Lily, photographer, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

I guess every Russian citizen is a real Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

My refusal to change my Russian citizenship can be called a patriotic act. Attending elections and voting during normal, peaceful times are also patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and of government are, of course, not the same thing. There is only one motherland, and many emotional, geographical, and some deep feelings and thoughts are connected with it. But a government is those people whom we elect for a period of time; it might change, and it might and should be treated critically, and one ought to try to improve it in one way or another.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One can of course be a patriot and disagree with the authorities. I don’t see any contradiction here.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve thought of emigrating. In the ’90s, my mother prepared all of the documentation and we practically moved to Israel, but stopped, literally holding the tickets in our hands.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are necessary because of an economic imbalance, when there are not enough people who are ready to work physically hard or low-paying jobs. I think it is necessary to create some legislation that would regulate their work, living conditions. I mean, it’s necessary to create some programs for migrant workers or something like that in order to make it legal, and not some chaotic “black market.”

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Sergei, 32, from Saint Petersburg, lives in Tallinn

What makes someone a real Russian?

For me, a real Russian is a patriot of his country.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Patriotism is a very vast concept; it includes many aspects. A patriotic act can be, for instance, smoking Belomor [cigarettes] when Parliament is also sold.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

To love your motherland and to love your government is not the same thing. A government might be very different.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course it is possible to be a patriot of your land and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

Of course I have thought of emigration. I’ve spent two years abroad, in Ecuador, so I know what it’s like from my own experience. But I came back to Russia because you still long for your motherland when you live in an alien country.

What do you think about migrants?

I don’t think anything bad about migrants. I don’t communicate with them, so I can’t say anything about them.

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What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?

Lin Yutang
Vera, 33, manager, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian as a “type” is a fair-haired, blue-eyed, self-confident young man, developing and looking forward into the future.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I haven’t missed a single election and I think that is an act of patriotism because it is participating in the country’s political life. Helping other people is also a patriotic act. What is a patriotic act? Love of your motherland. And to me, love of your motherland means helping to address some kind of need.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. A state is an institution. I’m not obliged to love an institution that might not reflect my personal goals and aims in life.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Can a patriot disagree with the government? Easily! We can have different goals; we can see the future in different ways.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, I’m guilty; I’ve thought of emigrating.

What do you think about migrants?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be easier for me if migrants would sort of “attune” to us. But subconsciously, I understand that they are not obliged to do that. That is why it is hard for me to comprehend them, but I still think that we need them, that we can’t be without them. This might be our future.

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Ramazan, 26, chef, Yalta

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who probably was born in Russia and lives his whole life there.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Probably yes. Inherently, I'm a patriot. For example, I have always supported and participated in various public events relating to my people. And not just my people.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

No, these are different, absolutely different. One can't choose his motherland. Motherland is where you are born. And you love her not because of her actions, but just because she is. As for the government, that's just your relationship with the current regime. Governments change whilst motherland remains. Motherland is a person's soul.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, that's possible. I think, it depends on the situation.

Have you considered emigration?

No, though I have thought about it, but decided to stay no matter what.

What do you think about migrants?

I have nothing bad to say about them. Yet motherland is a person's soul. You can't betray your motherland. Even if you have to leave, you must come back.

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Maria, 35, marketing manager, Yalta

What makes someone a real Russian?

It's a difficult questions, because since we had this referendum and Crimea became part of Russia I have decided to view myself as a Crimean. I'm now considering myself a Crimean because I don't want to think about all of these ethnic questions. There's so much different blood in everyone who lives on the territory of the Former Soviet Union. For example, my mom is half-Armenian, my dad – half-Russian and half-Ukrainian. There are so many different nationalities here and asking a question “who are you?” is not so simple. I think I'm a Crimean, and that's my self-identification.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Maybe I have done something patriotic. Not sure how patriotic is the fact that I still love Ukraine very dearly, and will never stop to love it. I accept what has happened. Yet, there was this event in Ivano-Frankivsk recently, and it's not very p.c. to go to there because of the stereotypical “bandery” who kill people. But I went there anyway. It wasn't cheap nor easy to get there either. I had to fly out of here to Moscow, since our airspace is closed, and from Moscow to Kyiv, and from Kyiv I drove to Ivano-Frankivsk to attend this seminar. My parents cried when I left. My mom though I would be killed. I went, and it was great, we posted online how great it is, how wonderful the locals are, that everything said about them here is a lie. Maybe this was a patriotic act in a way. How can one live in the same country, eat the same bread together for so long, and then one day to just say, we were suffering this whole time. I don't think it's right, I grew up here, Kyiv is my capital, I love Ukraine. I have nothing to say against Moscow nor Russian Federation, but it doesn't mean I should abandon my love, my values. Why does everything has to be black-and-white. I'm for a middle ground, I accept Russia, I accept everything that has happened, but I still love Ukraine and will always love Ukraine.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I don't know, I doubt anyone can love the government. I have seen that only in Singapore. What they have achieved there – ended corruption and other things, and all within a short amount of time. They have created one of the most progressive countries in the world from a country in which everyone was just smoking opium . That's when it's possible to love a government that has achieved all of that. I don't feel love neither toward politicians nor the government. And motherland is a very different matter. I love Crimea very much, and I'm proud to be a Crimean. I realize how lucky I am to be living here – near the sea, near the mountains. That's really great.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Such people are called dissidents. My grandfather, god rest his soul, used to say: if you want to become disappointed in humanity, go into politics. He's right. In my childhood I used to be very involved with politics, elections, campaigning. All that ended very quickly as I understood what it's all about. It's of no interest to me, and I don't want to waste my time dealing with that.

Have you considered emigration?

Lately I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm worried by what's going on. For example, what's the difference between a beach in Gurzuf and in Barcelona? In Barcelona you'll see people running with their dogs, playing Frisbee, having a picnic with their children. And in Gurzuf – I looked around – on my right there were about thirty people, many with children, teenagers, all of them with a beer in their hand. And on my left – the same. And it even appeared to me that little kids were sucking on beer bottles. And that's really scary to me. I've got a son to raise and I have to consider so many other things than just my love for the mountains, the sea and friends. Is that enough compared to how families live and spend their time in London, Paris or Munich? It's not about me, it's about my son Spartak. So, yes, I think about immigration, because I think he would be better off growing up in a different society.

What do you think about migrants?

When all of this happened, we were upset about loosing our connections. I still can keep up with my friends via social networks, but lots of people no longer want to visit us. That's sad. We can't communicate with friends of many years. But we hope that intelligent people from Moscow and St Petersburg will take their place. And actually, I think it's already happening. Yesterday I've met a man on a parking lot, who came from Russia, he and his family are very happy here and are looking for new friends. We started chatting and really enjoyed each other's company. We have decided to meet up soon for dinner, to introduce our children to one another. So I do hope we'll see more of these people, and not just beer drinkers on the beach.

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Grigory, 21, construction worker, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who was born here, who gave up everything for Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Have I done somethinga patriotic act? It depends on what you mean. If fighting — I’ve fought many times, if one can call that an act. As for the rest—I’ve been to pro-Russia demonstrations countless times. I haven’t done anything else so directly heroic.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. Motherland is one thing, and government is another. I really don’t like our government: Putin, anyone.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course it is possible to be a patriot and disagree with the government. Easily.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve thought of emigrating. There’ve been times when I wanted to leave here. Many times.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel negative toward migrants, very negative. Especially toward people from the Caucasus—they come to us, and they disrespect our laws, disrespect everything. As soon as they came here, they began to set their own rules. If they come here, they should behave like guests. Russians should live in Russia, but not some visiting guests from Caucasus or Asia.

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Alina, event planner, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

My image of a real Russian is of a man who drinks vodka, works at a factory, and talks to a TV-set.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Have I done a patriotic act? I can’t remember just like that. I reckon it is something that you do not for yourself but for the country where you live and which you’re proud of, without following your personal interests at the same time.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland is not the same thing as love of government. I think that love of a government is a somewhat social thing, a matter of whether you are pleased with the taxes you pay, with the politics of your state, both foreign and domestic. But love of motherland, to me, is I think love of birch-trees, daisies, spaces, and forests, and of the scent of the freshly cut grass.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It seems to me that a patriot might disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve never thought seriously about emigrating, but the circumstances that are appearing in my present life make me think about it. Several months ago, the Greenpeace activists on the ship Arctic Sunrise in the Pecherskoe Sea wanted to hold a peaceful action at the Prirazlomnaya platform. But they couldn’t do that. Moreover, a helicopter with special forces came and captured all of them and forced them to go to Murmansk. And then, later, they were forwarded to SIZO-1 [a pre-trial detention isolator] of Murmansk, accused of piracy, which was later changed to vandalism, and forwarded to Saint Petersburg. The trial hasn’t ended yet.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel sorry for migrants. To be more accurate, if it doesn’t impact me directly, and if I’m just talking about it, I feel sorry for them in the moment. But there are other moments. For example, when you become a mother and understand that your kid will go to the same school with people who don’t speak Russian, because their parents luckily came here and managed to put their kid in a Russian school—I understand that I don’t want my child to study with those children. Thus, it happens that they force me out of this situation and make me look for another school and spend my money on an education for my child, although he’s got a right to get it for free.

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Farhat, 40, driver, Tyumen

What makes someone a real Russian?

Real Russians are people who live, work, and raise their children in Russia, people who do something for the good of Russia and their families.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I think that you do something patriotic every single day by working, raising your kids, making yourself useful. When I was in the army and my motherland sent me to trouble spots, going there was not a patriotic act but my duty as a member of the military. I participated in an anti-terrorist operation in Grozny: we were supposed to clear the city of militants and lend assistance to civilians by providing them with papers, passports, by registering those who stayed in Grozny and encouraging those who had left to return. In other words, we helped rebuild peaceful life in Grozny.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I think that love for the motherland and love for the state are different things. The motherland is the motherland, you love it unconditionally. As for the government, some people love it, [and] others do not.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. You cannot accept all the laws that the government adopts.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about emigrating. I love the place I live.

What do you think about migrants?

I have a positive attitude toward those migrants who work and behave decently. Migrants come to Russia for a reason and not because life was so easy at home. Living conditions are apparently harsh in their native countries. They, however, have to take care of and provide for their families, raise their children.

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Oksana, 33, lawyer, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is an ordinary citizen with a clear civil position, regardless of his nationality, race, and religion.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

A patriotic act is a very complex concept; I don’t know what it is. I’ve never been to war, nor caught criminals. But I have defended human and civil rights.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

A state is an institution of power and governance. The motherland is birch trees.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can love your motherland and disagree with the government. Your motherland is the place where you were born, where you feel good. Government is the people’s servant, albeit a servant that doesn’t always act in the people’s interests.

Have you considered emigration?

Sometimes, when I feel scared, I think of emigrating. For example, when I see someone persecuted for his civil position. What if it gets to be like it was during Stalin’s times? But the fact that my relatives are here stops me. For that reason I wish to stay in Russia, to make this country better. I believe that Russia is a country of opportunities, and if each person had even the slightest wish to make it better, then we could live here no worse off than in Europe.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants don’t differ from Russians. There are bad people amongst Russians, as there are amongst non-residents.

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Real Russians are from Saint Petersburg—with such delicate intelligence, a couldn’t-care-less attitude, light consumption. And the second type of real Russian is someone from beyond the Urals—tough silent-type guys who've got a gun under the floorboards, and they’ll sort it all out if necessary.

Valentina, graduate student, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

Who is a real Russian? It’s a complex question, considering what’s happening. I think that it is a patriot, a person who loves his country, is tolerant in in every meaning of the word, ready to do practically anything for his motherland. He should possess some moral qualities, of course, and shouldn’t lose them. And he should possess a so-called “Russian idea,” which has been very popular lately.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I think I've done patriotic acts for Kazakhstan, where I used to live. I volunteered at the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] summit, at the economical forum, at the winter Asian games. I think these are patriotic acts because I worked for free.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. A government is just an institution of public power.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course it is possible to be a patriot and to disagree with the government. I think the opposition now represents such people perfectly.

Have you considered emigration?

I used to think of emigrating before. But now I think that I will stay in Russia because there’s basically everything here for bringing it to life. There are already enough immigrants abroad, and they are second-class people there.

What do you think about migrants?

Migration has ever been and ever will be here, because Russia’s development index is a lot higher than Central Asian countries. It’s just that people should be more tolerant of each other. And those who are guests in this country should behave better.

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Tatiana, set designer, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who loves his or her motherland regardless of where he or she lives.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

No, I do not think I have ever done any patriotic acts. I lead a quiet life.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of the motherland and of the government are not the same thing. I love my motherland, but I do not care for our current government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. The government does not always support its people. The government’s interests are not the same as those of the people.

Have you considered emigration?

About ten years ago, when I was younger and went to college, I thought about emigrating. I do not think about it any more. I like it better in Russia. I would, of course, like to go abroad to visit other countries, but I would not like to live there.

What do you think about migrants?

I have a positive attitude toward migrants. I like to see our country being populated by different nations. I think they also like it here. French people come to Russia too: they like our country very much and like living here. I am not a nationalist. I am comfortable with all nations.

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Aleksei, aid worker, former soccer player, Saint Petersburg

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I've done a patriotic act, in my understanding, when I played for my team at a FIFA championship during our trip to Hungary. I think that for me, a young boy, it was a patriotic act: to spend three nights on a bus trip and then play football the next day, feeling absolutely worn out. Another patriotic act occurred in Finland, when our all-Russia team played there and the Finns came after us, starting fights with ordinary people. So we had to stand up for them, because there were women and children amongst us. We even had to hit Finns in the head. Thus, I protected Russian people.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. Firstly, I haven’t got any love for our government at all, because all the laws that they’ve passed during the last twenty-something years—starting with sports and ending with healthcare (which is what I do now)—it’s all been done kind of crappy. Besides, there’s corruption again. I’m now monitoring who buys what and at what price. I used to sell metal furniture to state museums. So I bribed and gave “kickbacks”; otherwise I wouldn’t have sold anything. So motherland and government are really different things. Motherland is a motherland; it can’t be measured in money or anything else. But in our government the only things that matter are money and connections.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It is of course possible to be a patriot and to disagree with the authorities, because those people have got their own opinions. If some bureaucrat says, “Let’s separate from Caucasus”—or rather, separate Caucasus from us—in my understanding this is wrong, because it’s a Russian territory; it has been integrated into Russia in one way or another. But on the other hand, if some bureaucrat says that we should stop financing Caucasus so much, it’s now a hot issue. If we stop financing them, people will revolt, and terrorist attacks and all those things will begin again, because people are very impulsive there.

Have you considered emigration?

I thought of emigrating once, when I got an offer to play in Germany. I was very anxious about it, because those were the ’90s, and I really wanted to get out of this country. But I don’t want to leave now. I don’t even get thoughts like that any more.

What do you think about migrants?

I’ve got a solid opinion toward migrants: I’m against illegal migrants because there are too many of them, and too much criminal activity. My family has suffered from them, unfortunately, so I feel very emotional about it. My father was beaten up severely, and the doctors said that he didn’t have any nerve cells left. He became a vegetable and finally hanged himself. So I feel negative toward illegal migrants. But if they are the people who study here—why not? And it doesn’t matter what country they are from: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, or Italy.

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Siyavush, 24, taxi driver, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

It is hard for me to say what a real Russian is. But I do not think that a real Russian is someone who, globally speaking, fights for his or her motherland or, for example, insults foreigners.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

did something patriotic. I served in the military, and although my motherland is Dushanbe, I served in Russia. I grew up in Russia. I have lived here for seventeen years. I have many friends here. Russia is my second motherland, and I am prepared to go to war at any moment to fight for Russia.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are not the same thing. I hate the state.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, I considered emigration. I would very much like to live in the Arab Emirates.

What do you think about migrants?

I am sort of not Russian myself. I have a very positive attitude toward everyone—both Russians and non-Russians—provided they do not offend either me or my family or my nation. I help migrants myself when needed. I have no doubt that there are many bad people among non-Russians just as there are many good people among Russians. I just ignore those moral morons who call newcomers blockheads or chinkschurkas. These people do not respect themselves, their families, and other people.

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Khristina, 30, financial analyst, originally from Saratov, lives in Kiev

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who was born in Russia and does not want to leave, someone who likes living in Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I do not believe I have ever done any patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

In my opinion, love for the motherland and love for the state are different things. I love my motherland because it gives me energy. For example, when I come to my hometown, where I have not been for five years, it gives me an energy boost, gives me new ideas, a new, fresh impulse. The state, on the other hand, is a certain structure by the means of which we all function. That is to say that the motherland and the state are two absolutely different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities. You can be fond of Russian birch trees while disliking the president and disagreeing with him.

Have you considered emigration?

My family and I thought about emigrating two years ago. After making a list of countries for possible emigration, we were supposed to spend a month in Vietnam, but after the first two weeks we felt miserable, because we longed for those Russian birch trees and Russian-speaking people. We found Russian TV channels there and watched them, although I do not usually watch Russian TV at home. It made me feel better, and I realized that it would probably be hard for me to emigrate.

What do you think about migrants?

Migration is usually work-related. I can understand migrants since I myself moved from Saratov to Moscow because it was hard for me to fulfill myself and have a decent salary in Saratov. I have a positive attitude toward migrants. I respect them because moving to another country is a serious step that is not easy to venture.

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Sergei, bartender, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a patriot, but maybe not in the sense that is usually attached to this word. It is not someone who shows off his or her love for the motherland. A patriot is someone who loves his or her country and does not even consider emigration. I suppose this is the main thing. People whom I can call real Russians are patriots in the sense that I have just described. However, Russians and citizens of the Russian Federation are not the same thing.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I think that truly patriotic acts can only be performed during crisis, military or other. I have performed, let us say, civic deeds, or, in other words, I have fulfilled my civic duty. I often witnessed incidents and voluntarily went to the police or to the traffic patrol to give statements in defense of those people who were right in those situations.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can disagree with the authorities. Everyone understands the prosperity of his or her country differently. When people care about the well- being of their motherland, they will not necessarily agree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

No, I do not think about emigration. I do not even want to leave my city. I think that I might be a patriot of my city rather than my country.

What do you think about migrants?

I share Angela Merkel’s opinion, who once said about migrant workers: “If you work decently, learn the language, then you are welcome. But if you rely on social welfare and do not accept our country’s way of life, then you are not welcome.” These people are guests in our country, and if they live according to our way of life without trying to impose their traditions, I am absolutely tolerant of them.

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Aishat, studies in a community college and works at a travel agency, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

Who is a real Russian? It’s a complicated question. I’m a real Russian, and every citizen should be a real Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I haven’t done a patriotic act yet—I’m too young. I think it means doing something for your town, your country, to restore something, to create.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I guess love of motherland and of government are the same thing.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I doubt that it is possible to be a patriot and disagree with the authorities at the same time. Governments can be unjust now, but if you look deeper into their position, you can understand that they are right.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel fine about the newcomers. I really enjoy it that many foreigners come to us, and from [other parts of] Russia, too. It is interesting to talk to them sometimes, to know what they think about our city, our religion, our people. I find out many interesting things about them, too.

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In other countries, you either agree with the government and dig the ditch, or you disagree and don’t dig the ditch. In Russia it's different: you disagree with the authorities but you still dig the ditch—not because you are told to do so, but out of spite.

 

Evgeny, 24, unemployed, Simferopol

What makes someone a real Russian?

Shoot, I have always thought of Crimea being in Russia. My passport says I'm Russian. So I have always been Russian. My father is Russian, my mother is Russian. I was born in the Soviet Union, so there's no other option. If I were to be born in the 1990s, I would have been born in Ukraine, and then it would have been different. As it is, I'm Russian. My dad is half-Greek and half-Russian and my mom is Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I attended rallies, and also participated in the elections. I was an observer there.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Honestly I'm not very serious about it. If I like a politician I support him, but if I don't like a politician I will say that's he's no good.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It's possible. But it depends on the country. It's possible to be a Ukrainian patriot and to disagree with the government there. But I'm no Ukrainian patriot. Ukraine is a separate country for me. I have always considered Crimea to be separate from Ukraine. Crimea was lost in a cards game. Really. Yanukovych was an okay president, yet compared to Yuschenko or Kuchma he was a great president. He increased my pension. Whatever he promised he delivered on it. Yes, he stole a lot, but that doesn't matter because he was a man of his words. My pension was increased from 800 hryvnas to 1400 hryvnas. That's a lot. So I think patriotism and politics are two different things.

Have you considered emigration?

No, never. Simferopol is my home-city, my motherland.

What do you think about migrants?

They are okay people. We've got 5 guys from Donetsk living with us, so we hang out together, and party. They've got no money so we help out. They like it here, there's no war in Crimea, and they have brought their families here now. They are very happy here, and happy with food prices and our society.

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Anastasia, 22, studies international relations, born in Moscow, living in Tallinn

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think that if someone says that he or she is a real Russian then he or she actually is.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

My whole life is a patriotic act. It is a pity that the government does not appreciate my patriotism. I follow politics carefully, and I believe that Russia should be the most beautiful and richest country, the best country in the world, and that depends not only on foreign policy but on domestic policy as well. It depends on what is currently happening in the country. The government and I disagree on this. As a result, I’m now hiding abroad, but I am sure that I will return to my country when we kick out the invaders.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of the motherland and of the state are, of course, different things. The motherland consists of things that one can really love, such as nature, the country’s greatness, a rich history, the Russian language and culture. But when you see the bloody government destroying everything you love, how can you care for such a government?

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

If the authorities are destroying your land and your culture without thinking about the people, you obviously have to protest. You have to protect your country.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about emigrating, but I have always wanted to study abroad. In Russia, the educational system is too corrupt, and its quality is not as high as in Europe. This is why I wanted to study abroad and then return home to use my knowledge in my country.

What do you think about migrants?

I do not see anything bad about newcomers. The European Union and the United States are full of migrants. This is an absolutely normal situation, especially since these people are close to us culturally, because they come from the former Soviet republics, from our beloved “near abroad.” Migrants should just be required to pass the Russian-language test and make sure they have all the necessary legal presence documents, and that should be it. The problem is not in migrants, but in cops, the government, and corruption.

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Ivan, entrepreneur, DJ, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

This question makes me think really hard, because I haven't ever conceptualized this idea.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I think that in order to do something patriotic, there should exist certain circumstances, like a war or some other related incident. Luckily, I haven’t participated in any military actions, so I haven’t done any heroic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are cardinally different things. Love of motherland is love of a place, of a mentality, of your own environment. Government and motherland are different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One might love his motherland and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

It seems to me that many have thought of emigration. But I don’t see myself in another country; I’ll have nothing to do there. I look at many of my friends who have emigrated, and I understand that I don’t want to live like that.

What do you think about migrants?

How do I feel about migrants? It depends on what they are. If they are Europeans who come and start marketing companies here or, let’s say, automobile plants, thus giving people ways to earn money, then I feel good about that. But I feel strongly negative toward migrants from our former Soviet republics.

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Vlad, hip-hop dancer, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

In my opinion, a real Russian is a person from the past. Today, I do not see any real Russians.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

In my opinion, the accomplishments of my [hip-hop] team are patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and love for the state are definitely different things. Unfortunately, the government and the motherland are not always the same thing. I believe that it should ideally be like this, but in our country this is not the case.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

I have thought about emigration before. However, after visiting Europe, I realized that there is something in Russia that makes life here better than anywhere. Some people call it the Russian soul. As for me, I call it the happy medium between the East and the West. You can only find it in Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

Theoretically, I feel comfortable about migrants, but I think that in order for Russians to get along with them, they should behave as guests in our country. I haven’t come to this conclusion at once. At first I did not make any ethnic distinctions, but in time they have become evident. We too should behave as guests when we visit other countries.

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Alexander, 31, sailor, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

In my opinion, a real Russian is someone who loves Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

The only patriotic act I have ever done is that I have never betrayed and will never betray Russia.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I think that love for the motherland and love for the government amount to the same thing.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. The state should, after all, follow society — progressive young people of our country.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never in my life thought about emigration. In my opinion, emigration is nothing but a utopia, a life preserver for those who are drowning. How can anyone just betray one’s religion, as many people do when they convert to yoga and Buddhism? Such people are just renegades, emigrants to a different religion. I think that we, Orthodox Christians, should live in our own world.

What do you think about migrants?

I have nothing bad to say about migrants.

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Dunya, philosophy and theology lecturer, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

I do not like the word “Russian.” This is a new word that came into common use under Yeltsin. I do not really understand it, but I think it means a citizen of the Russian Federation.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I believe I have performed patriotic deeds. For example, I wrote an article and fought against corruption in my university. I am also a member of the initiative group of our apartment building, and I have achieved a lot in this capacity. In my opinion, a patriotic deed is a selfless action that you perform without expecting any reward. In other words, you selflessly do something in order to improve the situation in the country, in the city, in your apartment building.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the state are of course not the same thing. In my opinion, the state and Russia are different things. A wise man once said that the state is a machine to suppress individuality. The state has nothing to do with my country, especially in the context of modern Russia. I hate our state that suppresses individuality and all that is good in general. But I do not equate the state with Russia.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It is normal when a patriot disagrees with the government. The state is just a mechanism that usually proves unequal to its task. It seems to me that theoretically it is possible to build a society without a state.

Have you considered emigration?

In my opinion, living in a different country does not mean emigrating. I would like to live in a different country—in the Republic of South Africa—but I would never want to emigrate there. There is a Soviet stereotype that when you move to a different country, you burn your bridges and start there afresh. I think that the world lives according to different rules: you can live in different countries. You can spend 10 years in Spain and then move to Germany. I know many people who live like this and still consider themselves citizens of their native countries and return there at some point. My family is here, my mother is here. I will not abandon my parents, they are important to me.

What do you think about migrants?

I have a negative attitude toward migrants. I think that people who say that there is no issue here and that all men are equal and all men are brothers are not being sincere. Because usually those who say that have never faced the migration problem. The problem, however, exists. First of all, the idea is being instilled in our minds that we cannot live without migrants. But in fact it is they who cannot live without us. However, in this particular case, the state does not protect the interests of its citizens. People who think that migration is a good thing are just condoning corruption. This is a big corruption scheme to launder enormous sums of money, and migrants are just part of this scheme. I have nothing against these people, and I think that this is a normal situation: after all, Russian people also move to different countries. But when people come to our country to work as slaves, this creates a bad situation both for slaves who are forced to live in inhumane conditions and for local residents. The only people benefiting from this situation are the officials who enrich themselves [at people’s expense].

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Roman, medical equipment supply, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

What is a real Russian? I do not even know. I think this must be someone who knows the national anthem, a bit of history, and also the Russian language.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I doubt that I have ever done anything patriotic.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I am not interested in politics at all. I am not interested at all in what politicians do, because they live their own life that is different from Russia’s life. I couldn’t care less about who the leaders are.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities. Disagreement is a natural position that demonstrates an independent opinion.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about emigrating. Why would I think about that? This would be a waste of time. I have traveled abroad; I was bored there. There is nothing to do there. I did not find other countries interesting.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants can be different. If they come to Russia to work, let them work, I do not mind—they will not take my job. But if they come to sell drugs, then that is a different story. Then, of course, they should be fought against.

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My image of a real Russian is of a man who drinks vodka, works at a factory, and talks to a TV-set.

 

Alexander, 29, unemployed, homeless, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

Real Russians are ethnic Russians.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I might have done a something patriotic act. I don’t even know.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. It seems to me that government is never even related to love.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It is possible to be a patriot and disagree with the government. I don’t know how, but I think it is possible.

Have you considered emigration?

I wouldn’t like to move from Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

You should chase migrants away from here! They are so annoying. We are living here like we are their guests already. We, Russians, live like guests in Russia now!

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Natalia, singer, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

I love Russia very much, but I haven’t got very nice feelings about the [typical] Russian. He’s very aggressive, angry, and envious. I believe that there are lots of genuinely talented, strong people, beautiful in every sense of the word. But why is there so much aggressiveness and anger? I face it rather often. I mean, a real Russian is sort of a very angry, self-contained, and closed person. Russians are afraid of their own thoughts, afraid to be open, to talk about some private things. And this leads to all other problems.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I’ve hardly done a pro-Russia patriotic act. But if you take patriotism to mean not love of your motherland, but love of people—then yes, I have. Because people are the main component of a country, of the world.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. A state is state borders, sovereignty, government, the president, some social norms. But each person has got his own understanding of what a motherland is. Some think that motherland is your land, some think it’s the people who populate this land, memories connected with them. For me, the motherland is the periods of my life, people who surrounded me, places. This feeling has got nothing to do with the government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course a patriot might disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I emigrated from Russia a very long time ago, at the age when one doesn’t think about such things. I moved when I was seven years old, studied at school in England until I turned sixteen, and then moved to New York.

What do you think about migrants?

If people need to survive somehow, and it’s better for them here, then I feel fine about it. There is no way to prevent this, and I don’t even know if one should.

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Nata, neurosurgeon, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who’s got the same rights as all other Russians.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

You could call it a patriotic act that we work in the Chechen Republic even though it’s difficult and working conditions there are not like they are in Russia. We work with the population, we’ve got an emergency hospital, and patients come from all over the republic. Our job is a hard one.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of your motherland and of your government is the same thing because people who elect a president, they really elect a man whom they want to see. This is also patriotism.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It is of course possible to be a patriot and to disagree with the government. Everyone can have his own opinion.

Have you considered emigration?

I used to think about leaving. I’d eagerly move to Moscow, to work at Burdenko’s clinic. I would go for residency training for about five years. If I liked it there, I’d stay.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel very positive towards newcomers. I’d like to work with intelligent people, because we lack such.

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Marta, photo retoucher, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

I haven’t got a concept of a “real Russian.”

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I suppose I haven’t done anything patriotic act. Well, I received a college education.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland is not the same as love of government. Motherland is the place where you were born; you might have some pleasant memories about it, associations, beloved people, but a government doesn’t always match our expectations and desires.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot might disagree with the government. There are many such cases, in my opinion. I feel critical both of the authorities and of patriots. My father is involved in politics to some extent, so I’ve got some understanding of all this—from phone calls, etc. That’s why I’ve got quite a double opinion on the mater.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, I’ve thought of emigrating. But only because I like a warm climate and would like to live somewhere where it is warm and there is a sea, and the weather is not so sadly melancholic.

What do you think about migrants?

I don’t think anything about migrants. They don’t bother me—well, maybe only sometimes. It all depends on parenting: if one behaves well, then what’s the difference what country he’s from? A person from Europe can also behave like a savage.

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Indira, make up artist, born in Chechnya, living in Sweden

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is probably someone who wholeheartedly supports his or her country, who does not sell out to the United States.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I do not know if it can be considered a patriotic act, but every time I come to Russia, I visit an orphanage and bring them clothes and other necessities that I buy in Sweden. This home houses around one hundred children who have neither parents nor relatives. But in general, to do something patriotic, in my opinion, to do something for one’s motherland, not to be indifferent, to empathize.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are not the same thing.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. Governments do not always share the people’s interests, because power changes people. Many politicians go back on their promises and do not fulfill their duty with regard to the people.

Have you considered emigration?

I have obviously always wanted to go abroad to see how other people live and to learn about how the world works. But I have never had plans to move abroad.

What do you think about migrants?

I understand migrants very well. This is why I have no problems with them. I think that migrants come to Russia not because they want to but because they have to, and if they can build themselves a better life in Russia than they had in their native countries, then why not? They are welcome to come. However, much depends on where migrants come from and what the purpose of their coming is.

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Dmitry, retired, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who lives in Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Love of motherland and love of government is not the same thing. Governments change, but the motherland stays.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government is not the same thing. Governments change, but the motherland stays.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It is possible, and one ought to be a patriot and not agree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve never thought of emigration. I haven’t been anywhere myself.

What do you think about migrants?

What is my opinion about migrants? No opinion. So they came here, what’s so special about that? I’m calm about it, anyway.

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Grigory, aid worker, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

To me, real Russians are citizens of Saint Petersburg, for instance—with such delicate intelligence, a couldn’t-care-less attitude, light consumption. And the second type of “real Russian” is like an idealized figure from somewhere farther away than the Urals—tough guys who don't talk a lot but who’ve got a gun under the floor, and they’ll get it all right if anything goes wrong. I think the symbiosis of these two is what makes us all keep going.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I try to go out on Victory Day to congratulate the veterans. I think of going to elections as a patriotic act. And I have also spoken out somewhat angrily about the nationalists in other countries, risking getting a punch in in the face a couple of times.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Of course love of motherland and love of government are different things. There are times when one should forgive his government, like during the Great Patriotic War. Or like during the putsch, when those who stood up announced a state of martial law. They were trying to improve the situation in some way, and maybe they thought that it would be better if the Soviet Union remained. But there are also times when one shouldn’t forgive such things—like now, for instance.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Naturally, a patriot might disagree with the authorities. Unfortunately, our government is developing in a totally wrong direction. What they are doing now—“tightening the screws” (strengthening control)—makes people more unhappy.

Have you considered emigration?

On the one hand, I’m thinking of leaving. The idea of getting out of here is constantly present in my mind. But on the other hand, I’ll have to leave only if it gets really messy. For some reason I don’t want to leave Petersburg, or the country, either.

What do you think about migrants?

Something makes those people leave their places, go away from their villages for a better life. But frankly speaking, I think that migration is a bad thing. The total lack of control over this process has caused the number of newcomers to become so large that their culture has begun to dominate a little bit. I honestly don’t want streets full of women in headscarves. I don’t like this.

Pause

I, of course, despise my Fatherland from head to toe, but it vexes me when a foreigner shares this feeling of mine.

Alexander Pushkin
Yulia, trader, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a farmer.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

As far as I am concerned, patriotism is a very complicated feeling. In order to be a patriot, you have to identify yourself with something, and I cannot do this. I do not identify myself with either Russia or Latvia or any other country. I think people perform patriotic deeds by sacrificing their interests for the sake of their country, city, village, or the circle with which they identify themselves.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

In my opinion, love of the motherland and of the government are not the same thing. Love of the motherland is a stronger feeling than love of any group of people. Love of the motherland is love of the land, of people around you. The government, on the other hand, is some distant, hypothetical community of people that one does not really identify with a broader concept of a country.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

I am currently residing abroad, and I am constantly thinking about moving to a different country. I have lived in three countries, and for me, moving to a different place if the desire or necessity arises is a normal course of life.

What do you think about migrants?

My attitude toward migrants is ambivalent. I think it is necessary to attract people to jobs that are being performed by migrants who lack skills. There is also probably a need for migrants. On the other hand, this creates cultural issues, because large groups of people sharing the same cultural values find it hard to integrate into society. Latvia’s example, where about half of the population speaks a different language and shares a different culture, proves this point, because the two cultures existing in the country simultaneously have not yet integrated with each other.

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Aleksandr, 23, barista, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think a real Russian is a person who recognizes his motherland and identifies himself as a Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have hardly done anything patriotic. Maybe I would have if there were appropriate conditions [in this country]. I’ve got my idea of a motherland, and our government has its own.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

No, of course not. Love of motherland and of government is not the same thing. The motherland is large, from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad, and the government is here [in Moscow], within a radius of 100 kilometers.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course a patriot can disagree with the government. The existence of opposition creates a somewhat healthy atmosphere [in the country]. Thus, those people can be called patriots.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve been abroad: Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Italy, almost all the Former Soviet Union countries. But I’ve never thought of emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

I think our cultural differences hinder [migrants]. Russia is a multicultural country [and has been] from the very beginning, of course. But in their countries, there are some accepted social guidelines that are not appropriate here, and vice versa. Migrants can hardly follow our customary rules, and that is what makes it difficult for them here.

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Anna, interior designer, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

I don’t understand the meaning of the term “a real Russian.” Maybe it’s a person who tries to live here somehow, to find a way here, who’s got a family here.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I suppose I haven’t done anything patriotic. To doa patriotic act is, maybe, when you go somewhere and try to represent your country there through your deeds.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

To me, love of your motherland and love of your government are different things. Motherland to me is, I think, more the society with which I communicate, and the government exists somehow separately.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot might disagree with the government. I think I’m one of such people now.

Have you considered emigration?

I think of emigrating all the time.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants come to earn a living. They haven’t got any other choice, so they come here. How do I feel about it? Well, it’s a process that has already been started; it can’t be stopped. But we should live with it somehow and try [to see to it that] everything goes peacefully and friendlily. Migrants bring additional color; maybe it’s even a good thing.

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Andrei, 32, unemployed, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think a real Russian is a patriot. A patriot is someone who holds his or her motherland dear.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and love for the state are most probably different things. A state is a society, whereas the motherland is the motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I have been thinking about moving to Germany.

What do you think about migrants?

I have nothing to say about migrants. I have no problems with them.

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Kirill, banker, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who lives in Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

To perform a patriotic duty probably means to defend the interests of one’s motherland. I have never had an opportunity to do anything like that.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of the motherland and of the government are two different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course a patriot can disagree with the government. This version of patriotism is most likely even a stronger one, because you do something that is in the interests of your motherland but against some popular opinion. You need a lot of strength and courage for that.

Have you considered emigration?

I am prepared to move someplace where I can work. But emigration is not under my consideration. I cannot say that I am opposed to emigration, that it is alien to my nature. If I had an opportunity to obtain a second citizenship, I would seize it. But I do not see this as an end in itself.

What do you think about migrants?

What can one think about migrants? One can only wish them luck. Migrants are ordinary people who come to Russia in the hope of a better future. Some people leave Russia in the same hope.

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Konstantin, 23, human rights activist, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

I do not think there are real and non-genuine Russians. People who live in Russia and presumably have Russian citizenship can all be called Russians.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

In order to figure out what a patriotic act is, first of all one has to understand what patriotism is. In my opinion, patriotism is a blind faith in the system that rules the state—and not only faith, but also submission. In this sense, I have probably performed patriotic deeds when in my school days I participated in some patriotic rallies and distributed patriotic ribbons.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

My motherland is Abkhazia; this is why I cannot answer this question from the perspective of someone who was born in Russia. I cannot say that I am particularly fond of my motherland. Nor can I say that I love the state, because I am not comfortable with this state. But in any case, I think that love for the motherland and for the government are different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot cannot disagree with the government, because someone who disagrees with the authorities disagrees with the system created by these authorities, and consequently this person is no longer a patriot.

Have you considered emigration?

I think about emigrating all the time.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are people who cannot make it work in their native countries, sometimes because of circumstances over which they have no control. In my opinion, the attitude toward migrants that is currently brewing in society is xenophobic. A person is still a person whether or not he or she is a citizen of any particular country. In other words, first of all we need to understand that this person has the same rights as any of us, and only then can we talk about whether or not he or she has a registration, a residence permit, citizenship, a passport, and so on. These are separate questions altogether.

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Natalia, art director, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who was born and grew up in Russia, regardless of his or her nationality.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I do not believe I have ever done any patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of the motherland and of the government are two absolutely different things. You can care or not care for the government, but you have to love your motherland. You cannot belong anywhere like you do in your motherland. The government, on the other hand, is only a government; it lives in one reality, whereas the people live in a different one.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. We, for instance, do not always agree with the government. We are, of course, silent about a lot of things, but deep inside we still disagree.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about leaving Russia. I have never even thought about leaving this place, this village. I love my village, and I do not even want to move to one of the neighboring communities. I have never been farther than Tobolsk, and even there I went only to participate in a competition.

What do you think about migrants?

I do not care much for migrants. When Russian people go somewhere, they are oppressed and humiliated there, whereas migrants have jobs and everything, and they order us about in our country. Average Russians have no say in the matter, even in their own country. This is why I would ban migrants from coming to Russia. But that is not for the people to decide.

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I do not know who a real Russian is. This is a difficult question. I think the most important thing is that he isn't a Nazi.

 

Alexei, 33, construction worker, Birobidzhan

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think we have no real, ethnic Russian here. Everyone comes from somewhere: they leave their roots and come here to settle down.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I might have done omething patriotic at some point, but I don’t remember. We grew up in the USSR; our whole understanding of life was different then. We were brought up differently, not like the modern youth.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and of government are absolutely different things. Government is [made up of] the bosses who sit there up high. What do they do for Russia? Nothing. Or maybe just a few individuals do something. But Russia is one big country; we live here, raise our children here.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think one can be a patriot and disagree with the government. You might have one opinion, and the authorities another.

Have you considered emigration?

Lately, we’ve been thinking constantly of leaving. I don’t know about going abroad, but we’ve been thinking about the Krasnodar region. It’s easier to get a job there, and it’s also warmer.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel fine towards migrants; we are all people. Just like them, we go somewhere, earn money just to survive—so why not [them too]? The important thing is to keep everything within the limits of the law.

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Pyotr, advertising, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

I would like to make a distinction between the terms “Russian” and “Russky.” “Russian” does not mean “Russky.” Russia is a multi-ethnic country, and I consider Russian any person who was born in Russia or just became a Russian citizen. In other words, anyone who considers Russia his or her motherland is a true Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I do not think I have ever done anything patriotic in the sense that I attribute to this term. In my opinion, a patriotic deed is some big and famous act like self-sacrifice or the act of sacrificing anything for the sake of the motherland. I have never made any such sacrifices, and what I have done has never been detrimental to my interests. This is why I cannot say that I have ever performed any patriotic deeds.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are of course absolutely different things. I love Russia very much, and I wish everything were all right in our country, but I am afraid I do not really care for our current government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, a patriot can disagree with the government for the same reasons I have mentioned above. If the government considers something to be beneficial for the motherland, it does not necessarily mean that this is the case or that you have to consider it beneficial as well.

Have you considered emigration?

I had an opportunity to remain abroad for work, and I think that I could easily leave now, but I do not feel like leaving at all. Maybe this is a sort of mini-patriotism: I want to stay in Russia and make a difference here.

What do you think about migrants?

Some people come to Russia from developed countries—from Europe and the United States. Those who come from Asia are mostly uneducated. But in fact we cannot do without either. Theoretically, I support the freedom of movement, and I believe that if someone is more comfortable in a different country, he or she should be able to move there.

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Maxim, financial advisor, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

To me, real Russians are, I think, Landau, Chekhov, Saltykov-Shchedrin. Those are the people who would be ashamed when our tanks come to a foreign land. Russian culture is unique in the sense that we might not only be happy (like most normal people) when our tanks come to a foreign land, but might also be ashamed of it. Russian language, Russian culture, some common mannerisms—all of these form a concept of a “Russian.” I can’t call myself a Russian (Russky). I’m Jewish, but I’m definitely a Russian because I’m a product of this culture. That is why, for me, real Russians are those intellectuals who are well known all over the world, and of whom Russia can be proud.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Several times a month I give interviews to local newspapers, and each interview becomes a patriotic act to me because I talk of things that I can’t stay silent about. But I’m constantly scared, to be honest. Owing to my roots, I understand that a word spoken is past recalling, so I’ll have to take responsibility for what I’m saying. For instance, when I’m asked whether car factories should be built here, and I know whose project that is and who talks about it on television, then I have to answer, “No, we don’t need that, because it’s bad for the region, for its people.” So here is such a small [form of] patriotism. I don’t feel any pride about it, I only feel fear about it, but I just can’t not speak out the truth.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of your motherland and love of your government are contradicting things. In Russia, state and motherland have always been like yin and yang. This was clear during all of the Russian revolutions.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

n Russia, being a patriot almost always means disagreeing with the authorities. There’s only one nuance: if the government tells you that you should dig a canal, then being a patriot means digging a canal and at the same time saying that it does not need to be dug here. Because Russian patriotism is always about the future, about children and grandchildren. This means, yes, the government does something very bad, and yes, they are wrong, but we are complying not for the [sake of the] government, but for our children and grandchildren, for everyone who will live here next. There are two simple variants, usually: you either agree with the powers and dig the canal, or you disagree and don’t dig the canal. But in Russia everything is different: you might disagree with the powers but you still dig the canal—not because they told you to do so, but because you assume it to be important. So the government is there, and you are there, separately.

Have you considered emigration?

I’d eagerly emigrate to the States if I had an opportunity to work there. Not because it’s bad for me here, but because when I participated in an election campaign there, I saw that these mechanisms really work there, albeit with some problems. One can really influence the life of his country there; you don’t have to constantly win against something. I could emigrate even with the loss of money, respect, living standards, and more—just for the feeling of being a free person.

What do you think about migrants?

The inflow of migrants is a natural process. Slave-owning economics is rather unprofitable for a country but very profitable for a slave owner, because slaves always work badly and produce little product, but at the same time, you can do anything you want with them. Russia has become a real slave-owing, feudalistic country with the arrival of Tadjiks, Uzbeks, and other migrants. I feel really ashamed around these people for what is happening to them here because, like I said, I’m ready to leave for a smaller piece of steak, in order to remain a man with human dignity. It bitters me to see how people sell their dignity, turning into actual slaves, just because they can eat and dress better here or because they can drink alcohol here. And it bitters me to know that their children also will be slaves, and their grandchildren, too, because a slave’s psychology outlives slavery itself for many years. But I really desire for Russia to become a country of free, worthy people who are capable of joking about the government and themselves, capable of building and creating. Slaves are a torn-away piece for many generations.

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Ksenia, 26, waitress, Alushta

What makes someone a real Russian?

I don't know who a real Russian is. Maybe a patriot, a person who lives in Russia, drinks vodka, bears and gypsies, eats dumplings. Maybe a worker, who loves his job, or not.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

No. I've never attended rallies, nor have I voted. I haven't voted for 26 years, and I don't think I ever will. Maybe that's not a good thing, but I don't really care. It doesn't matter.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I think, no. Motherland is where you are born, where you spend your childhood. As for the government – why would you love it? It changes day to day.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Probably no. Yet maybe, yes. Probably yes.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, probably. But not forever, I would want to leave but to return one day.

What do you think about migrants?

People want to earn money, it doesn't matter whether they do it in one country or another. I am absolutely fine with them. It's cool when a person works.

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Aleksei, 33, construction worker, Pionersk

What makes someone a real Russian?

Someone who was born in Russia is a real Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I haven’t done anything patriotic act just yet. Most likely, a patriotic act means serving Russia.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are different things. People disrespect the government now, just as it disrespects people.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Government is right about some things and wrong about other things at times, because they sit in their cabinets and almost don’t see real people. But people see real life. And this now causes life to get worse and worse for Russians. Everything can be sold; everything can be taken away.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought about leaving Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

I wish there were no migrants. We might have more jobs then, and more order.

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Yulya, 27, art-director at a night club, Sochi

What makes someone a real Russian?

What is a real Russian? This is a difficult question. This is some big, strong man, blond, of course, who looks like Valuev [a former boxing champion]. His moral virtues are patriotism and love for the motherland. And I would place him in Central Russia rather than in our region. I see fields, greatheartedness, kindness.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

A patriotic act is something that you do for your country or for your city. Maybe it means to save someone, to prevent some accident from happening, to catch some bad men who endanger safety. In my opinion, “patriotism” is a very serious word. Many try to be patriots and are proud of that, but in general it is nothing but words. I mean that people who litter where they live and call themselves patriots are not really patriots at all. Once in summer we went to the public city beach. This was a nightmare! We collected all this trash. This was probably a small patriotic deed.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are two different things. The government is politics, the economy. The motherland is the motherland that is the place toward which you gravitate, where you feel good and comfortable, where the things you love are. You go outside, you take a deep breath, and you feel great.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, a patriot can disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I think about emigrating all the time. It is easier to work abroad. I love Asian countries. There are more opportunities there; it is easier there to set up a business. And I love it that the weather is warm there.

What do you think about migrants?

I am very well disposed toward migrants. When we try to engage the local population in work, people prove to be lazy and slow. They do not want anything, they do need anything as long as they are warm and feel at ease and comfortable. Whereas people who come here from other Russian regions, especially from upcountry, are ready to go full speed ahead. They strive to achieve something. It is a pleasure to deal with them. However, there are of course exceptions. Migrants from Central Asia are all right too, provided there are no more than three of them and you do not meet them in a dark alley.

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Alexander, 39, geography teacher and botanist, Khabarovsk

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who lives in Russia and has Russian citizenship.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

This sounds pompous, but I believe that I have done many patriotic things. Any demonstration of support for human rights is a patriotic deed. All environmental rallies I participated in were patriotic acts. Even some pompous phrases that I say during my geography lessons or my university lectures, including the silly statement “I will teach you to love your motherland” that I make at the beginning of the regional ethnography course, are patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are different things. They are two different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, a patriot can disagree with the government. Moreover, I think that today this is usually the case.

Have you considered emigration?

I believe everyone considers emigration. Sometimes circumstances, let us say, make me consider this option, but I dismiss the thought.

What do you think about migrants?

What is my attitude toward migrants? They are welcome, our country is big. What else can I say? I wish all to work out for them here.

Pause

Patriotic acts are done during wars, especially against some foreign invaders. There can be no patriotic acts during civil war, because any civil war, any war within one country, is fratricide. Even a heroic act is a sin and a crime.

 

Akim, 38, butcher, Bakhchysarai

What makes someone a real Russian?

A person who lives in Russia is probably a real Russian. A person born there. A person's motherland is where he was born, and so is for Russians. And now we have become Russian too.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I can't answer this question. For so many years we have lived in Ukraine and we were used to that. Still I feel closer to Ukraine. We'll see whether it changes. Since it's not up to us, it doesn't matter whether we discuss it or not. We used to live in Ukraine, Crimea, and now we'll live in Russia. What matters is for all of us to be treated equally, all of our problems taken care of justly. There is a sense of wrong, but I hope it will be cured in the future.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

What can I say, motherland is motherland. As for the government, as long as it's understanding, it's okay. When the government pays attention to everyone equally, it's a good government. When the government starts to treat different people differently, then what sort of love can it expect? Everyone should be equal, law applies to everyone with no exceptions. All of us abide by the law, no matter where we live, be it Uzbekistan, Ukraine or Russia. It can't be that Crimean Tatars have one set of laws, Russians have their own, and Ukrainians – their own too.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

How can one disagree? Of course I am a patriot. I think, one has to agree. But it doesn't matter what I think, the government makes its decisions without us.

Have you considered emigration?

No.

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Elena, fish monger, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is anyone who lives in Russia. We are not nationalists.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I believe I have done patriotic acts, although some may not consider them as such.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I do not know if love for the motherland and love for the government are different things or not. I have nothing to say in this regard.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

I am comfortable with migrants. They come and go. I have no problems with that.

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Andrei, 31, hostel manager, Sevastopol

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian probably loves Russia, his motherland and takes care of his country. That's if one is to look at it globally. Life has changed drastically recently, and lots of people are starting to love their country. But it's not enough just to love her, one has to take care of her too. One can start with cleaning his own staircases. The easiest thing to do is to sit at home, watch TV and complain about the government.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Probably yes. I can't be idle, I'm always looking for something to do. So when I was serving in the army, I was a sergeant in the military prosecutors office here, and I decided to organize a lecture for officers, conscripts, sailors. Every September an organization called something like a union for people's sobriety comes here to Sevastopol. So I have asked this organization to give a lecture, and it all worked out – 600 people attended, and I have organized it all on my own, even without the prosecutor's help.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

A government can change all the time, while how can the motherland? But honestly, Sevastopol has become my second motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It's possible. Every person is unique with his own opinions, and every person can have his own understanding of what's happening in the world.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, I thought about it. I've looked at Canada, Bulgaria and some more exotic countries like Thailand or India. But it didn't really work out so I decided that's for the best. I actually quite enjoy living here, it's not bad. Maybe those were the moments of despair.

What do you think about migrants?

I think migrants come here because it's difficult in their countries. So they think that they can come to Moscow, earn money and feed their families. Of course, as long as they don't drink all of that money away nor succumb to Moscow's temptations. So that's what they do, and so many of them come to Moscow that their labor becomes even cheaper. But I think it's okay, let them come. I think the government should regulate migrants. If they are needed, then they should be encouraged, if there are too many of them then it should be banned. Especially considering that Russia is a police state: if the government wants to, it can bring order into any issue.

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Nadezhda, flower vendor, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone big, strong, bold, real. I’m a Russian myself, and I think that Russia is cool.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Many different things can be interpreted as patriotic. But I think that a patriotic act is when one ought to stand up for Russia and defend it.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I think that love of motherland and of government are different things. You shouldn’t love government, but you should at least respect it and listen to it. And the government should listen to its people.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t considered emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel absolutely neutral toward migrants. What was it like in the USSR? All people were friends; they weren’t divided, weren’t afraid of each other, and were calm. I’m for it.

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Madina, nurse, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who loves his country, regardless of his nationality. Being a Russian is not based on nationality; he might be an ethnic Russian (Russky), a Kazakh, a Chechen. The main thing is that he respects his people, his republic, his motherland, his land. But the most important thing is, of course, humanism, understanding.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

Have I done a patriotic act? I don’t even know. I guess so. The biggest form of patriotism is to treat people well, to understand them.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I think that love of a motherland and of a government are not the same thing. Motherland is not a government, not the laws run by the government. Motherland is a motherland. The government has got its own laws. Governments demand, but a motherland doesn’t demand anything but love.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course you can be a patriot and disagree with the government: we are a democratic state. Each person should speak out his own opinion, stand for his point of view. Nothing he says is bad: he might think that whatever he suggests would be better for the country.

Have you considered emigration?

I wouldn’t like to move from Russia. It’s better to live in the place you’re used to, where you are needed.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel fine about migrants.

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Zarima, works in the Akhmad-Hadji Kadyrov museum, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is our Ramzan Kadyrov. And our Akhmad-Hadji Kadyrov was also a real Russian.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have not done any patriotic acts. I think that patriotism means helping others, disadvantaged people or one’s motherland.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

I am not interested in politics, but I think that love for the motherland and for the government are not the same thing. Love for the motherland is a special feeling: you feel closer to your motherland, that is, to your native land, than to any other country.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can either agree or disagree with the government—this is entirely your choice.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about emigrating. I like it here, in my motherland.

What do you think about migrants?

There are different newcomers in our country such as the Vietnamese and the Chinese. But I do not really care for them. We can manage on our own. Things are improving. They are probably not fond of us, Russians, in their native countries, just like we are not fond of them here.

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Leonid, 34, industrial alpinist, Saint Petersburg

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

False patriotism helped me to f*** up one American in a bar.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of motherland and love of government are cardinally opposite things, as a rule. The current, somewhat lapsing powers and love of motherland are things that have nothing in common.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot might disagree with the government. These things are not in any way related.

Have you considered emigration?

I don’t like the thought of emigration. I think that it’s a dishonorable retreat from one’s territory. Both of my grandfathers were military people. So it looks like we relinquish our inner territories to our inner enemy. This is all very offensive. I was born in the city of Leningrad, so where else could I go? Where is better?

What do you think about migrants?

Someone creates artificial tension in order to distract people and earns big money on cheap labor. It’s so obvious.

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We were supposed to spend a month in Vietnam, but after the first two weeks we longed for those Russian birch trees and for the language. We found Russian TV channels and watched them, although I never watch those at home. I felt so warm at heart, and I realized that it would probably be hard to emigrate.

 

Aleksei, 37, delivery driver, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a non-corrupted person, not dependent on anyone. One who’s not pulled by strings, who doesn’t obey anyone, but has his own opinion and does his job. Everything is done by collusion in our country today; everyone is being pressed upon.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have done something patriotic, of course. In winter, a boy fell underneath the broken ice at our lake, so I had to pull him out. I think this was a patriotic act.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love toward motherland and government is not the same thing. Motherland is the place where you were born. But government changes: it is here today, but tomorrow it isn’t.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government if it conducts a policy that you don’t like.

Have you considered emigration?

I have thought of emigration, because I witness the policy currently being conducted in this country, especially in the legislative sphere. But I am not permitted to leave because I’m now under investigation. I’ve got a Lithuanian passport, but I can’t leave the country, even though my criminal case doesn’t hold water, figuratively speaking.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel neutral toward those who came legally and work, for many [Russians] don’t agree to work the jobs that migrants get—so this means there are vacant jobs. But there are also many who come illegally and leave others without a job—and that is bad. If only the Federal Migration Service worked well, illegal immigrants would be caught. But what we’ve got here: I myself have witnessed police arrest illegal migrants, who then just bribed the policemen and were released at once. This is what our police are like, and our politics, too.

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Aziz, 21, fast food worker, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

I do not know what a real Russian is. This is a difficult question. I think the most important thing is that he or she does not act like a Nazi. A real Russian understands that migrants only come here to work—not to kill people. This is what a real Russian is.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have not done anything patriotic acts.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are not the same thing.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

My religion is Islam. I do not care where I live. I live where I am comfortable.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants come to Russia to work so that they can provide for their families.

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Sergei, 35, activist, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think a real Russian is someone who thinks about the future of his fatherland, at least sometimes.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

My latest patriotic act was when I went to Dvortsovaya Square alongside along with other civil activists and tried to demonstrate my civil position on the politics drawn by our current government toward migrants, gays, and other oppressed groups of people. But I think that the inner moral labor of your soul is a real act of patriotism.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of your motherland is not the same thing as love of your government. Moreover, I would say that our current government can by no means be thought of as a legitimate one, nor as equal to the concept of a “state,” because what we’ve got now is the usurpation of power. That is, the current leaders who usurp the power have nothing to do with a state, a government, or a parliament, or anything that stems from the definition of the term “state.”

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One ought to be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I’m thinking of emigrating. Sometimes I think of what it would be like for me to live in a foreign country.

What do you think about migrants?

I’m really happy about migrants. I always think how great it is that someone else wants to come to Petersburg.

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Zinaida, cook, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who lives and likes living in Russia.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I have never done any patriotic deeds, but I would if I had an opportunity. I think that a patriotic act is an action performed for the sake of the motherland. A patriotic act is an action associated with nobleness.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love for the motherland and for the government are two different things. Governments change all the time, whereas love for the motherland remains the same.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, one can disagree with the government and still be a patriot and love one’s motherland. Russia is, after all, a democratic country, isn’t it?

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about emigrating. Emigration is not my cup of tea.

What do you think about migrants?

I have a very positive attitude toward migrants. I feel only gladness when people come to our country and even settle here, because Russians are peaceful people—they are fundamentally benevolent and hospitable.

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Ksenia, 33, restaurant manager, from Saint Petersburg, lives in Kiev

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who lives in Russia, loves his country, and wants things to be decent and nice there.

Have you done anything Patriotic? What do you think an act of patriotism is?

I’ve hardly done anything patriotic. Even if I have, I did it unconsciously, so I can't remember. A patriotic act means doing something for the good of your motherland, writing or organizing something. I listen to the station “Echo of Moscow,” but it’s like this: I listen to it, then turn it off and go on working at a restaurant.

Is it one and the same thing to love the motherland and to love the government?

Love of a government is quite a scary phrase. I haven’t got it in me. I have got love for my motherland, by I don’t feel any love for a government—never did and never will.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course one can be a patriot and disagree with the government. I think that most patriots disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

I have thought of emigrating, and even my first foreign trip was related to emigration. When I came to Amsterdam, I was shocked by everything that I saw: the people, and how clean and pretty it was there. But I realized then very well that I’d never move from [Russia] and I understand now that I won’t. Only if something happens that forces me to leave. Never say never. And many things have happened in my life, things that I couldn’t even predict. But, well, if I ever move somewhere abroad, it won’t happen just because I wanted to do so, but because of the circumstances.

What do you think about migrants?

If migrants come, it means that the quality of life in their countries is even worse, I suppose. I’m not against them coming here, but there are just so many of them already. I think there are more of them than of the native population. When my friends—who are not racists at all, but, on the contrary, very intelligent people—tell me, “But what kindergarten should I take my child to? There are only Uzbeks and Tatars everywhere,” then a question arises of what should be done. All people are brothers, of course, and everything is fine, but they’ve got a Tatar girl as a teacher in a kindergarten, six little Uzbek girls, and all the other children are Koreans, and only two white boys. So my friend has to go all across Moscow to find a place for her kid in a kindergarten. So there’s something definitely wrong in this policy. They miscounted something, I think. But it’s all done on purpose; it’s big politics. It just can’t be like that.

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