40 - 60(36)
Olga Pavlovna, pediatrician, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who lives and works in Russia and does not whine a lot, so to speak, but meets misfortunes that befall the country with a smile. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I think that someone who bears his or her country’s tribulations bravely and lives on is indeed a true Russian.

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

My parents lived in a city, but I am working in a village, and many consider this a patriotic act. I myself think that there is nothing special about my coming here. After all, someone has to work here. Doctors are needed here too.

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

I think that love of the motherland and of the government are different things. Governments come and go, whereas the motherland remains the same. There were czars, communists, now democrats, but there is only one motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities. However, the laws and regulations that the government adopts should be obeyed in order to avoid disturbing the stability of the country where you live. Any household has its own principles that should be observed regardless of whether you like them or not. You can share those principles or you can disagree with them, but you have to respect them.

Have you considered emigration?

I have neither been abroad nor thought about emigrating. Many generations have to live in a foreign country before they feel that they belong there. In Russia, I have a sense of belonging. When you go to a different country, your way of thinking changes, along with your attitude toward the government, life in general, and everyday life in particular. Your have to change yourself completely. I am not prepared to do that.

What do you think about migrants?

I have no problems with migrants. Sometimes I feel sorry for them: before they moved, these people’s life used to be stable, and now they have to adjust to new living conditions, to a new way of life. I think it must be hard for them, at least in the beginning. Of course, people gradually get used to their new life—they adapt, accept some things, and put up with others because what else can they do? They moved, so now they have to adjust both their everyday life and their way of thinking to new circumstances.

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Natalia, janitor, Birobidzhan

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who thinks about his future, the future of his children, about prosperity. But our Russians think mostly about their own welfare.

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

I have done a patriotic act twice. Once I saved a kid, pulled him out of the water. Another time I helped a person to cope with his stress because of bad things happening in his family.

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

Today, no one likes our leader. But motherland isn’t synonymous with the government, of course. A motherland is a motherland, you were born here, your roots are here, your relatives. But a government is an absolutely different thing, in my opinion.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot might disagree with the government, of course. The government says one thing, but does another. I’m a person of principle; I don’t trust or agree with the authorities, ever.

Have you considered emigration?

I used to wish to leave Russia. But now I’ve got a lot of problems that I should solve here.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are choked here. Police, the courts, just won’t let them live here. That’s why I think it would be better for them to stay where they were born, where their roots are.

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Mikhail, homeless, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

I’ve never actually thought about what a real Russian is. I guess it’s someone who adores Russia, tries to make things better for it.

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

I might have done something patriotic. It might seem patriotic to someone else, but for me it was ordinary.

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

I wouldn’t say that love of motherland and of government are the same thing. Governments might change, but there is only one motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. It seems like everyone lives like that.

Have you considered emigration?

I have thought of emigrating, and I still think [of it]. But I’m already old now; no one would take me.

What do you think about migrants?

As a human being, I can understand migrants. But they cause many troubles here, of course.

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Stanislav, 42, entrepreneur, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

For me, a real Russian is my mother.

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

While abroad, I demonstrated my personal example of what a Russian does, how he answers for his words. I tried to inspire respect.

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

Throughout my childhood, I was impressed upon to love the government and the Communist Party. There is love of motherland, love of labor, but one mustn’t love government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot never agrees.

Have you considered emigration?

There is no such thing as emigration to me. The whole globe belongs to all people. You can go anywhere. I’ve traveled a lot: I’ve visited Europe, and North and Central Africa several times.

What do you think about migrants?

I try to understand migrants and treat them with respect. Except for those cases when they cross the line of decency.

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Tatiana, chef, Pionersk

What makes someone a real Russian?

Real Russians are those who live in Russia—and don’t leave it, for instance.

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

We stayed here, we work—and that is our patriotic act. Those who were scared, they ran away from the country.

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.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It is of course possible to be a patriot and to disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

At first, I thought about emigrating, but then I decided that I didn’t want to leave. The grass is greener on the other side. It is sometimes hard, but people survive in all conditions, and those who stayed made the right choice, I think.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel quite good about migrants. There are humans and sub-humans anywhere. What difference does it make whether a person is a migrant or not? If he’s OK, then it doesn’t matter where he came from.

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Irina, 50, social worker, Simferopol

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think all people are good. Who is a real Russian? We are half-Ukrainian, half-Russian. We love Russians and Ukrainians. I don't know, I was born in the Soviet Union, and was a Russian then. Afterwards I lived in Ukraine, now I'm back in Russia. But we still love both these people. Both are dear to me.

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

Yes, I think I can call my actions patriotic. I have never voted before, even for these presidents – Yanukovich and Kuchma, I think there were four of them on my memory. Never voted. But when there was the referendum for Russia, for the first time in my life, in 50 years, I went to vote. I thought, if we will be part of Russia, there will be no war and everything will be good. If only I knew how things would turn out.

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

I think, no. I don't really have any love for the government, while of course I love the motherland. I love my motherland, where I was born, where I live, I love both Ukraine and Russia, I even love America. I think only governments have problems with one another, whereas people are good and help one another. I attend a baptist church, for example, and we are very friendly with American baptists, they help us. I think people would live much better without our rulers.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Yes, of course. We didn't agree with Yanukovich, yet we still loved Ukraine.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, of course, I would like to. In comparison to us, others live so well – they have health-care, jobs, and a different attitude towards people in general. But unfortunately I can't immigrate now.

What do you think about migrants?

They probably don't have a good life back home. I think, life forces them to come here.

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

Alexander Pushkin
Vyacheslav, 53, homeless, used to work in construction, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

Everything is changing now; you don’t even know who a Russian is.

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 know.

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

It is possible to love your motherland. But there shouldn’t be any love for your government. It is changeable, a position program—nothing else.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One can of course be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought about emigration. Why would one need it? There’s no need to do it. Whatever happens, we don’t need a foreign country.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are politics; it’s not our business. It’s the government that makes it possible for migrants to work here. They pay them little money.

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Alexander, entrepreneur, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who has Russian citizenship — who else?

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

I have done a patriotic act—I pay my taxes. I have been doing it all my life, although in this country, this is not obligatory. From my point of view, this is patriotism.

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. One can love his or her motherland. The government, on the other hand, is just a certain group of people who are supposed to serve the country. They are in the service of the state. Why should I care for them? I can respect them, but love is a different thing.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can, of course, be a patriot and disagree with the government on the condition that the country is a democratic one.

Have you considered emigration?

If we talk about my country in particular, I have always had an urge to go back there. But I choose to live where life is better.

What do you think about migrants?

Humans have an average lifespan of 60 to 80 years, and they deserve to spend this time well and wherever they like. As I see it, there are no borders left—they only exist in people’s minds.

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Valerii, taxi driver, Sochi

What makes someone a real Russian?

One who lives in Russia is a real Russian — that’s what I think.

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

I have done a patriotic act when I served in the army. We had an incident: somebody broke the border, and I was on duty, so I arrested the offender. So that was my act of patriotism.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Let the government decide patriotism issues; what is there for us? We are small people. Those in charge should decide for themselves. They are the head; it’s their business.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve never thought of leaving Russia. My children are here, my wife, brothers, sisters—they are all here. My family has been living here since 1916: my grandmother came here from Turkey after the genocide.

What do you think about migrants?

Let the government decide what to do with migrants. I’m not a nationalist. A migrant is the same person as we all are. If he comes here from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, or Armenia, it means he is in need of something. I think if everything became well there, no one would come here, to Russia.

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Igor, sculptor, Saint Petersburg

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

I think that if it all works out, then my patriotic act deed will be a monument to the tsar’s family, to the Romanovs, I mean, the last tsar. There will be a church built in the Primorsky district, and here’s a sketch of this monument.

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

Love of motherland and love of government are, of course, different things. Motherland is the place where I’m from, the place everything draws back to, the place where you want to go. But what is love of government? Love of a tsar?

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One might be a patriot and disagree with the government. Many people live like that. It’s absolutely normal. Governments come and go, but people stay and live.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of emigrating. I just don’t need it. When bad times come to a country, one probably shouldn’t leave, but should stay and live through it until it’s well again.

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Sergei, 49, unemployed, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who cares not only about his personal problems, but also about the problems of his fellow neighbors. If someone appeals for your help and you don’t turn him down, but do help him, then you might be called a real Russian, I guess.

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

Since childhood, I’ve been brought up [to believe] that a man must stand up for a weaker one, help those in need who are in a worse state than you are at the moment. That’s how I usually live wherever I am.

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

I guess love of your motherland is the same thing as love of your government. As it’s been said, any authority comes from God. This means that if you love your motherland, your land, then you must at least respect your government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course one can disagree with the government on some matters, but I think it doesn’t change the big picture. Love should comprehend anything, and that’s what your respect is about.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of leaving Russia. Like anyone, I wanted to travel in my youth, to visit other places. But as for settling in a different place—no, I never wanted to. When I was young, I was stopped by having my parents and relatives here. Now that I’ve got no relatives left, I think I’m stopped by my roots: you come to understand that you’ve grown up here; you spent your youth here. It’s not like some native birch trees have been holding you here, but [rather] it’s your inner principles, even spiritual. It is one thing to go somewhere to see things, but it’s totally different to move somewhere to live.

What do you think about migrants?

I haven’t got such barriers as nationality. Maybe it’s because when I served in the army (when I was young), I communicated with guys of various nationalities coming from every corner of our country. I had friends amongst people from the Caucasus region, and even Tadjiks. That’s why nationality is the last thing I pay attention to. For me, the most important thing is the man himself. If you possess the qualities of what is usually called “a man,” if you are decent, respect others, follow the laws and some customs of the place where you are—then, I think, you’ll find peace with the others who live there.

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Igor, coach, Tyumen Region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who lives here in Siberia.

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

I believe I did perform a patriotic deed. Even the fact that my ex-wife lives in Germany whereas I live here proves that I am a patriot. She invited me over there, but I said no.

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. My motherland is here, but the government is far away.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think that a patriot can disagree with the government. I have not always agreed with the government’s decisions. The government is far away, it is not aware of our local problems—this is why I sometimes disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not considered and will not consider emigration. There is no need for that. What would I do without my friends, the people I know, without our government and my Russia?

What do you think about migrants?

I am comfortable with migrants. Everyone looks for a better place. If people think that this country is a better place for them, we will help them, and it does not matter where they came from. Many people came to our region from Kazakhstan. They got jobs, and they work as hard as we, Russians, do.

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Aleksandr, 43, unemployed, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

Real Russians are those people who live in Russia.

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

I haven’t done anything patriotic.

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

In my opinion, love of motherland and of a government are not the same thing. It works out better to love your motherland than to love your state.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think one can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

No, I haven’t thought of emigrating.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel neutral toward migrants. If needed, I might help them out with something.

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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.

 

Sergei, 53, TV repairman, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

Well, who is a Russian? I’m half Tatar, but I’m still a Russian. There is a big difference between being an ethnic Russian and a Russian citizen. Russians are also Chechens, Ingushes—everybody.

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

I have done a patriotic act. I went to serve in an army, almost got to Afghanistan.

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

Love of motherland and love of government are, of course, different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot might of course disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of moving from Russia. What for? I’ve got acquaintances who live there [abroad], and there’s nothing good out there.

What do you think about migrants?

One should punish those who give work to migrants. Cheap manpower is what that is.

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Malika, 46, janitor, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who will never leave Russia, by no means. I think of myself as a real Russian.

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

A person who has gone through our military campaigns and has seen death face to face is already a patriot.

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

Love of motherland and of a state is not the same thing. But I really respect our government and have a positive attitude toward our president. If it weren’t for the help of President Putin and our Ramzan [Kadyrov, President of Chechnya], everything would still be in ruins.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Yes, a patriot can think in his own way and not agree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I tried to move abroad twice, when everyone was leaving. I gathered all of the documents, but just couldn’t. Each time, when the military actions came to an end, we returned home.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel neutral toward migrants. I respect working people.

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Peter, editor, New York City

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a patriot, who loves Russia and serves Russia.

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

That would be too big of a compliment for my actions. And actually, the word “patriotism” makes me a bit nervous. I would prefer to use different words. So, in my opinion, patriotism is about alluding to your past, to your ancestors and to those pillars which shaped you into the person you are. It's also about judging your actions in reference to actions of your forebears and those people around you whom you respect. My ancestors have always lived in Russia, they were from the so-called service gentry. This means, they have served people, those who need support and assistance, and they have also served their country. Many of them were in the military and they have defended Russia. One was a famous Decembrist, Ivan Pushchin, who suffered for his patriotism. I was brought up understanding these people's actions, their motives and their intentions.

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

I think, these are different. When politics and patriotism mix, patriotism disappears and motherland disappears. I believe patriotism is not about person vs person, nor one system vs another system. Patriotism is for something, not against something. I think, it's one of these words which has been misused the most in our civilization, not only in Russia but in many countries, including the US.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, the biggest patriots are always very critical not only of the government but of themselves. You can't be critical of those in charge and not critical of yourself. I think, patriotism as a concept is something that is community-based. It always starts local, from your own community. Those people, real patriots, whom I have met in my life and in my travels, were always patriots of their communities in the first place. For example, firemen, paramedics in the US, they help everyone. These people will probably find it difficult to answer a question, whether they are patriots of their country. I have met such people in Russia too.

Have you considered emigration?

I have considered this when Russia was a country where optimism and idealism existed. Unfortunately, this was a very brief period in its history. I have even moved to Russia in the beginning of the 1990s, and I have really good friends who gave up their American citizenship for a Russian one, despite having a very successful business here. Of course, it's still possible, but not in today's Russia, where patriotism has become a warped term.

What do you think about migrants?

I believe, people can be patriots of Russia as well as their own country's patriots. Of course, one still has to look at their actions and their motives. When I lived in Moscow I didn't oppose migration. Every country needs these working people. And it's the government's responsibility to make sure these people are integrated into the society.

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Dmitry, 44, dental technician, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

I do not really know what a real Russian is.

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

I have done a patriotic act, of course. And I suffered for that. Once, on my way home from work, I came to the defense of a girl and I got knocked on the head with something. It happened in 2002, but I am still undergoing treatment for my injury.

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, one and the same. The motherland and the state are inseparable, so to speak.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One can easily be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about leaving Russia. I am all right where I am.

What do you think about migrants?

I have no problems with migrants, but I am not particularly fond of newcomers from former Soviet Central Asian republics. Many of them do not work here, act like hoodlums, and impose their traditions on us.

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Evgenii, entrepreneur, Tyumen

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think that Stolypin, prime minister under Tsar Nicholas II, was a true Russian. He used to say: “You, gentlemen, are in need of great upheaval; we are in need of Great Russia.” He was a great man! A pity he died so untimely [a death]: if not for his death, all the convulsions that the country suffered afterward could have probably been avoided.

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 absolutely different things. Governments and regimes change, but there is only one motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can very well disagree with the government, especially in our country. What is patriotism? It is love for the motherland, love for your land, for your family, for ancient traditions and customs. Governments, however, are a different thing—that is politics.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never even thought about leaving Russia. I have been abroad—everything is foreign there, everything is unfamiliar.

What do you think about migrants?

On the one hand, migrants come to our country because life was not so easy at home. Life is rather hard where they come from. On the other hand, I think there are too many migrants in Russia now. And this process is out of control. The rabble and the ragtag, and all sorts of wrong people have been coming along with people who really want to work and earn their living in Russia. They cannot work things out at home and so they come to our country to hide from their authorities.

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Movsar, neurosurgeon, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

In my opinion, a real Russian is someone who works first and foremost for the sake of his or her family. Working for the sake of your family is the same as working for the good of the state. I have always respected hard workers who produce and accomplish something.

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

To tell the truth, considering our contemporary history, I think that I have been doing patriotic acts my whole life. During both of the Chechen wars I had opportunities to leave, but I never considered this option and stayed in my country despite the fact that I was not a government contractor. During both the first and the second war I stayed with my family and my folks at home. I knew I would be needed and there would be a lot of work to do. I knew I could offer support to people and that people would depend on me to guide them. In this sense, I have done something patriotic.

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 absolutely different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about emigration. I have never even had a fleeting thought of emigrating. I was born here, and even if the situation allows me to leave, I will probably stay here. And not only will I stay, but all the people who are close to me will stay as well: my relatives, my colleagues, my friends—my close circle, in other words.

What do you think about migrants?

I am a very tolerant person, and I treat people according to their personality traits. It is important to me above all what sort of person one is, and I will be friends with those who share the same human values as I do.

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Maxim, furniture magnate, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who works hard and does things right.

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

If a patriotic act means doing something for people who need your help, then yes, I’ve done this. I think that patriotism is when you do everything for the country—not suffering from your ideas, not being a burden to the surrounding people—but living a peaceful and quiet life without becoming an obstacle to others. This is the main form of patriotism.

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

I’ve reached the age already when words like “love of your motherland” are nothing but words. You can’t love your motherland with words, and you can’t say that you love your motherland. You should just act in such a way that betters your motherland, not walk around shouting, “I make good things!” but just fulfill your everyday duties at a high professional level. If you are making your business professional, then your motherland will prosper.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Governments come and go. Every man who comes to power thinks that he does it well. It’s only God who does things well, no one else. But if a man comes to power and tries to do something, then he should be respected just for his attempts and good will.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of emigration; this word is only a word to me. I think that we are all just guests in this land. A land can’t belong to anyone, because we come and go, but the land stays. You mustn’t move to America or anywhere else where life is good. Just create your own America where you live. America was also created by people; they created such conditions for themselves. It all depends on you.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel very well toward migrants. If they achieve something good here, something efficient, if they manage to stand on their own feet, I’m only glad. Yes, we could blame everything bad that’s happening on migrants. But there would be the same thing without them. People would steal from each other, fight each other, and stand in each others way, etc., just the same. It’s just that with the flow of migrants, the population increases, naturally, so there occur more fights, etc. The main thing is to overcome nationalism within yourself. I came to the conclusion that nationality plays no role for me and my family. Because I understood that nationalism settles very firmly in a man’s mind and doesn’t want to leave.

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Let migrants work if Russians cannot do it. Nowadays, Russia does not produce anything. People have no jobs. They don't know how to take care of their land. People do not even know how to milk a cow.

 

Roman, executive recruiter, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

I guess a real Russian is one who is proud to live in Russia, connects his life and the lives of people close to him with this country, [and] wishes it prosperity and well-being.

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

I used to commit patriotic, pro-Russian acts, even if I wasn’t thinking about it. In 1992, when Estonia split from the USSR and became sort of a counterbalance to our country, the population was divided into two groups: Russians, and those who were against Russia (in this case those were Estonians). In that situation I was amongst those who stood for the interests of the Russian side.

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

I think that love of your motherland and love of your government are fundamentally different things. Love of your motherland has nothing to do with your attitude towards government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Naturally, a patriot might disagree with the government. I think there are many such people in Russia now.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve been thinking about emigration for a very long time, since before 1992 even.

What do you think about migrants?

Migration is a standard process. As a whole, I’ve got no problems with it. But another matter is that migrants should follow the laws and behave according to the rules, norms, and traditions of the country to which they come. I mean, migration should be done legally.

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Viktor Alexandrovich, cobbler, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

I am the real Russian.

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

I haven’t done a patriotic act. What is a patriotic act? It’s a very complex concept. It can’t be described in one word.

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

Love of motherland is, of course, not the same thing as love of government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot not only can, but should, always disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I don’t think of leaving Russia. I’ve been living here for a very long time.

What do you think about migrants?

I just don’t like migrants, especially people from the Caucasus region. They are very dishonest people, very dishonest: they would look into your eyes and say something to you, and you believe them, but behind [your back] they are absolutely different—that’s it. If they loved us, they wouldn’t behave like that in front of us.

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Said, street cleaner, Saint Petersburg

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

I have not done anything patriotic.

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. The motherland is the motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I do not know if a patriot can disagree with the government.

What do you think about migrants?

People living in St. Petersburg are normal human beings—they respect me and treat me decently. This is why I work here. I live here alone. My family is in Uzbekistan.

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Galina, executive recruiter, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

What is a real Russian? The first people who come to mind are writers—Chekhov, for example.

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

Yes, I believe I have done patriotic things. I have traveled quite a lot abroad, and in discussions, conversations, and in personal communication I have always tried to show through my behavior what we, Russians, are.

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

Of course, love for the motherland and for the government are not the same thing. Governments change, the motherland does not.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. For example, in the late Soviet period, in the 1980s, it was obvious that ideology was completely at odds with life, and many disagreed with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I do not think about emigrating. My husband is from Estonia, he has got family in Tallinn. After college we were thinking about where to live and work, and I spent a year in Tallinn. I then felt all too well what it meant to be a foreigner. Although we had good opportunities and job offers, I realized that this was not for me, that I would be more comfortable living among Russians.

What do you think about migrants?

I think it would be hard without migrants because they are an objective necessity. These people find themselves on the labor market and do work for which we have no hands. Besides, qualified people come as well.

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Maria, painter and art teacher, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is anyone who lives in Russia.

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

I do not believe I have ever performed any patriotic deeds. Patriotic acts are done during war, especially against some foreign invaders. There can be no patriotic deeds during civil war, because any civil war, any war within one country, is fratricide. In this context even a patriotic deed becomes a sin and a crime. Moreover, the term “patriot” has an unpleasant connotation in the Russian language. Someone who is called a “patriot” might feel offended because it means “red-brown.” [communist and nationalist forces]

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 very different things. In my opinion, love for the motherland includes the knowledge and the understanding of one’s country and all its aspects. Russia actually has many aspects—not only national ones. Governments, on the other hand, change. In Russia, the government is always a sort of artificial superstructure.

Have you considered emigration?

Now that the kids have grown, I have begun thinking about emigration. I had not thought about it before.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants come to Russia because they were not comfortable where they lived before. I do not think they represent an issue, because second-generation migrants are already all Russian. That is, second-generation migrants learn the language, go to Russian-language schools, in some way or other interact with the Russian culture, and consequently they are already Russian Kazakhs, Russian Kirghiz. So I do not think this is a problem. The only danger might come from migrants living in small ethnic enclaves where they cannot learn the Russian language.

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Sultan, security guard, Grozny

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a Russian patriot, a person who was born in Russia, lives here, and loves it no matter what. To be a Russian, it’s not necessary to be born in Russia or Saint Petersburg—you could be born on any farm.

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

While serving in the army, I had to carry out many important actions. But to be a patriot, you don’t have to guard the borders or take up arms to fight; you don’t have to go into politics and shout, “I’m a patriot!” I think patriotism means loving your country and its nature. To see bad things and close your eyes upon them, to see good things and speak about them.

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

Love of motherland and of government is not the same thing, of course. I think that regardless of who is the governor and who’s in his cabinet, you must love your motherland. It is your duty. Love of motherland stays forever, whoever is in power.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course one can be a patriot and disagree with the government. Some people who have absolutely no idea what patriotism is might be eager to take a position of state power. There are many such people in politics. They might say that they are patriots, but it’s not really true.

Have you considered emigration?

My family and I have gone through two heavy wars. But we never thought of leaving. We might have wanted to leave for a time, but I’ve never desired to leave this place forever. There has never been such a thought in my head, even during the wars.

What do you think about migrants?

If migrant workers could even earn enough for food where they live, they wouldn’t come here. They come here for a reason. I really feel sorry for these people. They leave their homes, their motherlands, and come to an alien country, not knowing the language; [they] come to an alien people and work, earn money. Their goal is to feed their families. Of course you pity these people sometimes.

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Anastasiya, clown and ex-specialist in fraud detection, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

I know many people whom I could call real Russians. For example, I have friends who are true military officers—not desk-bound ones. Teachers, doctors who are not planning to leave the country, are also real Russians.

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

Have I ever done anything patriotic? It depends on what you mean by a patriotic act. As far as heroism is concerned, I have never shown it, if for no other reason than I am a woman. But I love my country, and I do not intend to leave it.

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 of course different things. The motherland is the motherland, whereas the government merely consists of people—today one set of people is in power, tomorrow another.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think that a patriot can disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I do not think about moving abroad. I have had offers, but I do not want to do it.

What do you think about migrants?

Everyone looks for a better place. Such behavior is only natural. So why should not people come to our country to earn money and live comfortably? I have no problems with that. There are no bad nations—only bad people.

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

Lin Yutang
Alexander, 50, mayor, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is one who loves the place where he was born, where his parents live, and where his children will live; he is one who tries to put his mind and forces into making this place better. A Russian, like an American in America, must work for his country. That is, he doesn’t necessarily have to be Russian by nationality. I’m an ethnic German; my ancestors came to Russia 250 years ago, invited by Ekaterina II. And we’ve always worked for the good of Russia.

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

For me, patriotism means that, while living in your place of origin, you try to make life better for the people there. That is why you have to do such acts every day: bringing gas to people, building roads, helping old people, teaching children, creating opportunities for sporting activities and cultural events. I think a patriotic act is not necessarily something shiny and notable, like saving a drowning man from a river. It is one’s everyday work with people, work intended to make people love the place they live.

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

Love of motherland and of government are different things. People who work in the government have been elected, appointed. In thirty or forty years it might be revealed that they didn’t always do things correctly. Motherland is the economy and people and a way of life. One should work for his motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Being an elected official, I understand that I should stand for the interests of the government. But somebody needs to be a patriot, too; somebody has to have different views. Because if we all say that everything is all right and clap our hands, we can miss something. Government needs to be supported, for when there is no power in place, there is no order. People will then say, “Guys, it’s difficult here; you can’t walk out in the streets because it’s not safe; there are poor conditions here.” But at the same time, authorities should be told, “Look, people live very hard [lives] today; something needs to be done.” The authorities will then take notice and say that it is necessary to solve those problems: to create new jobs, to move people from old, wrecked houses, to create opportunities for education. But if everyone tells the president and the prime minister that everything is well here and nothing should be changed, then he’ll only busy himself with space programs but not with the people. That is why there should exist different points of view.

Have you considered emigration?

I never considered emigration, even in the ’90s. I’ve got relatives in Germany: uncles, cousins. But in my family, the question of leaving has never been raised. My college-mates live in Germany; they are ethnic Germans. But even in Germany, no one considers them to be German; they are called a derogatory “Russky”. Nowadays, when traveling abroad on vacation, you face being taken for people of some secondary kind. But here, I feel I am a true, legitimate Russian, and I know that no one will limit me in anything. I think that Russia is a unique country, all in all; it welcomes everybody. There are 140 million of us here: all of different nationalities, and all people feel equal; no one is persecuted. Those who come here from neighboring countries might be “guest workers” in the beginning, but then you look at them later—they’ve become successful businessmen. And my college-mates who have moved abroad tell me that they have stopped living for themselves now, because they are not recognized [as equal people] there. They hope that their children and grandchildren will be.

What do you think about migrants?

At all times, starting [as early as] Peter I, newcomers have brought [to Russia] an inflow of new ideas, different cultures. This is all useful. There should be intercommunication and mutual enrichment.

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Igor, 49, unemployed, Simferopol

What makes someone a real Russian?

Foremost, a real Russian is someone who loves the city he lives in and also supports his government, cherishes historical values. By that I mean he cherishes our victory, our veterans. This is for the most part. But also, this person helps those around him. That's why I agreed to social work. I wanted to help people. Then of course, those who work earn money, no matter how little or much.

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

I haven't done anything patriotic. Why? Because of my lifestyle. Now I understand the meaning of life. But before I didn't, because of drugs and prison. But spending five and a half years in opioid substitution therapy I had a lot of free time to think about my life and its purpose.

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

A government can change any day. You can't point at one person and love him because he might get re-elected the next day, and your love will vanish. As for motherland, it's different. Look at what's happening in the country now. I was never into politics, but I think President Putin is doing everything to the most of his ability. I can only tell from the news on TV, since I'm not a politician. He's trying his best to improve the country's economy.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

History has lots of such examples; starting with Peter the Great there were so many upheavals and revolutions. Dishonest people come to power and then that's a patriot's job to take care of them.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven't thought about this. In the 18 years I've spent in prisons in various cities, including in Belarus, I had ample opportunity to stay there. But I have always returned here. Simferopol is my motherland, I can't imagine my life somewhere else. Maybe if my head would have been wired differently I would consider immigrating when I was 25-30 years old. But I haven't thought about it.

What do you think about migrants?

I respect, I have learned to respect the choice of other people and their right to choose their own path in life. So if a person comes to earn money, why not? It's good for the economy. As long as everyone's friendly. When I started my first prison term, it was still Soviet Union, and there were different people there – Belorussians and even foreigners. And no one ever said, you are not from here. So I look at the person from the perspective whether he's kind and considerate. If a person comes here with good intentions, people will only notice his personality, but if a person comes with bad intentions, he will have dishonest and wicked people around him.

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Tatiana, entrepreneur, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

In my opinion, Professor Muldashev, ophthalmologist, director of the Russian Eye and Plastic Surgery Center in Ufa, is a real Russian. He is a one-of-a-kind human being. He operates around the world, performs unique surgeries, does mountain climbing. I consider him a real Russian.

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

I do patriotic acts on a daily basis. For example, we have recently purchased medical equipment to allow early diagnosis of breast cancer in women of our city. This will be a social project: in my medical center, this procedure will be extremely cheap, despite the enormous cost of the equipment.

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

I am a citizen of the world, and I do not understand what the motherland is. We are all in the same boat, and today’s globalization prevents me from seeing Russia as an isolated country. In other words, I am as much concerned about Burmese women whose children can be taken away by the regime as I am about women in some remote Russian village who are unable to defend themselves against men who choose to use their own kitchens as a boxing ring.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I have no idea if you can be a patriot and disagree with the government—I am apolitical in this respect. I think that patriotism, as such, can only exist with regard to the entire planet. I am not a patriot of any specific country—I worry about all the people in the world.

Have you considered emigration?

I do not live in any country full-time. I am currently dividing my time between Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. I am living on planes, in a manner of speaking. And I know for sure that in 50 years, the world will become just one big common boat. It already is, we just have not realized it yet. It is not about patriotism that we should talk, but about preserving the ecosystem for our children in the context of the entire planet Earth and not just one specific country.

What do you think about migrants?

I do not care what race people are provided that they work well. My kids’ nanny, a Filipino woman, is doing a good job. What difference does it make what language she speaks? The same can be said about any Tajik who is a good construction worker, for example. Thank goodness he came! I will be very glad if he obtains a residence permit, because these people want to work, they are doing their best for their families in order to provide educational opportunities to their children, as well as opportunities to have a holiday and work decently. And when a government or a people start a genocide of newcomers because migrants provide quality work for less money, the only reason for them doing this is laziness, because they just do not want to get off their asses, if you’ll pardon the expression.

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Nikita, 49, actor, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is [someone like] me, I think.

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

I think it was patriotic when I did things for culture's sake.

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

There can’t be any “love” of government. It is some other kind of feeling. But we also mustn’t divide these concepts: there are birch trees [a symbol of Russian culture] and [the Russian poet] Esenin, and there is Putin. These are all different sides of the same thing.

Have you considered emigration?

Yes, I had such dreams [of emigrating] when I was young. I used to think that I could do something out there, in Europe. But then, I’m a Russian.

What do you think about migrants?

All people are different.

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Larisa, social worker, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think that real Russians are people with an active civic stance who want changes in this country and want them now.

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

I think that social workers are constantly doing patriotic acts just by doing their job. Our job essentially works against the system. We are walking a tightrope. For instance, we have to prove that, contrary to established opinion, the Russian drug policy is inhumane.

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 two different things. Governments change, whereas the motherland, just like a mother, remains the same.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can certainly disagree with the government—it is natural for him to do that. There are too many yes-men and compromisers, but that does not change anything.

Have you considered emigration?

Emigration is essentially a great thing, but I wish everyone liked it best in his or her own motherland.

What do you think about migrants?

I treat migrants like any other people. In my opinion, they need help. I think that any migration is the result of difficult life circumstances, and a migrant is an uprooted person.

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Sergei, fisherman, Vladivostok

What makes someone a real Russian?

Everyone understands the notion of a real Russian in his or her own way. In a generally accepted sense of the term, a real Russian is someone who loves his or her motherland and is proud of it.

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

No, 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 state are of course two different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can disagree with the government. In fact, this has recently been the case.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about leaving Russia. But I have been abroad—to China, Korea, Japan.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are different—there are good ones and bad ones. However, if they cannot succeed in their own countries, then in most cases these people are not really wanted here either.

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Aleksandr, audio salesman, Tyumen

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a common man. In my personal opinion, he is a collective farm worker, who is Russia’s backbone. He might be a drinker, but he is authentic; the rest is just a shell.

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

The most trivial thing can be a patriotic act. To get off the bus without throwing paper on the ground is patriotism. Simple things make all the difference.

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 absolutely different things. On the other hand, these concepts sometimes become intertwined.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course, a patriot can disagree with the government. However, whatever the laws—good or bad—people have to obey them. I wonder, however, why people only pay attention to the government and the president when local authorities are more to blame. Everyone shouts—journalists, bloggers—that we have a bad government. But we should first change our local authorities and only then should we rise to higher levels. It is our fault that we have such rulers.

Have you considered emigration?

In my time, in the 1990s, when I was younger, I probably thought about leaving. But those were different times. There are more opportunities now, but I do not feel like leaving, especially considering what is now going on in Europe. I have been to Estonia—it was a nightmare! On the surface everything is super, everything seems to be fine, stores are crowded; however, when you talk to the common people, it turns out that everything is really bad.

What do you think about migrants?

I have absolutely no problem with migrants, because they have no work in their countries, and it is obvious that we lack a labor force. On the other hand, it should all be regulated, legalized, so that there are no incidents between locals and newcomers. We got used to how it was in the 1990s and in the early 2000s when everyone entered Russia freely. But we are moving forward, and I wish that things concerning migrants could be regulated as well so that people would not simply come whenever they feel like it. Because, judging by Europe, nobody is waiting for us in other countries either.

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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.

 

Lyudmila Andreevna, 58, street cleaner, Birobidzhan

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think of a real Russian as an ethnic Russian. Even if he’s Armenian. For instance, my father is Ukrainian, my mother is Polish, and I’m Russian, because I was born here.

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

My patriotic act is to keep my district clean.

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

Love of motherland is different from love of government. Motherland is motherland; one could really give his soul for it, his life. But what is a government? I was fighting my government for rent invoices, for example.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can of course be a patriot and disagree with the government. I disagree with the authorities about many things.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought about leaving Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

I personally think, if they work, let them work. My husband and son are both builders, and they are not pleased that many Chinese workers came, so there are no jobs. But I tell them, “My dear, if Russians would work like they used to work when I was young! I began to work at fourteen, but look at the youth now: there’s no one to work. So migrants come.”

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Anatoly Yevgenievich, doctor, Saint Petersburg

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who lives on Russia’s territory, admits it, possesses a kind attitude toward the country and its people, and wishes the best for his country, of course. That’s who can be called a real Russian.

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

I haven’t blocked a firing squad with my body, but being of service for the good of people consists of small things: helping one person, then another. So I’ve tried to help; I’ve dealt with the issues of treating elderly people, giving them medical help. They are our fellow citizens, so this might actually be called a patriotic attitude.

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. Governors can vary. One might agree with a governor, respect him, support him in many ways, but one can also feel neutral toward him.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It happens sometimes that authorities act unpatriotic, in which case there will be no agreeing with them, of course.

Have you considered emigration?

As people say, where you were born, there you’re good. That’s why I haven’t thought of emigrating, but I would like to see the world. It’s just that there is never enough time. Even during vacation, there is so much fuss. Besides, my financial opportunities don’t always allow me to have what I’d like.

What do you think about migrants?

I have a good attitude toward all people, regardless of nationality. I don’t care much about it. But if newcomers behave rudely, force natives out, or gather together to beat up others, then I’ve got due cause to care about them. All in all, if you are a guest, we’ll accept you with love and peace; but if you’re an enemy, you’d better go away.

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