Kaliningrad(18)
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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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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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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Kirill, 14, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think a real Russian is a patriot, perhaps.

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

I have not 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 two different things. To love one’s motherland means to love its forests, its landscapes. Love for the government is love for the president, for the authorities, for the way the system works.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. To be a patriot means to protect one’s country, whereas the government can do something bad, such as adopt a law for its own benefit.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about leaving Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

If migrants do not disturb the peace and do not bother locals, if they behave properly and study the history of the country, then I have no problems with them.

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Andrei, 13, Pionersk

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who is loyal to his or her motherland.

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

I have not yet 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. A government can rule by dishonest means.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

I would like to move to Berlin. Russian people are ill-mannered. Berlin is probably much better in this regard.

What do you think about migrants?

I have nothing bad to say about migrants.

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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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Patriotism is too deep a feeling to depict in the posing for a photograph.

Charles Chaplin
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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Vera Ivanovna, retired nurse, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a kind, compassionate person, someone with a big heart. In my family, everyone is like that.

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. State power, government, changes, but the motherland stays. And love of your motherland also stays.

Have you considered emigration?

I like living in Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

To some extent, I feel for migrants, because they live a difficult life here. Maybe they cause some harm, but they also bring a lot use. They work jobs that our people don’t wish to work.

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Olga, retired foreign trade expert, Pionersk

What makes someone a real Russian?

f you’re judging by mentality, then a real Russian is a person who was born and grew up here. Because people who come from somewhere abroad, like Central Asia, still have an absolutely different mentality, and it takes a long time to adapt. A person should strive for it, but most migrants don’t. A newcomer might be a Russian, of course—if he sets a goal to become a Russian as soon as he comes, not just to earn some money or somehow bully to get money and then leave.

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

A “patriotic act” is a complicated concept for me, because I can’t say that throwing yourself in front of a gun is a patriotic act. I think that there can be patriotism even when you dislike something in this country, when you are not pleased with something but you understand that times change, and that it happens to be hard now. But you keep on living in this country and try to live in such a way that you don’t make things worse for your motherland but change something for the positive. I mean, you shouldn’t set global goals. If I see that someone misbehaves, litters, does something of this kind, then stopping him could also be a patriotic act, I suppose.

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

Love of motherland and love of government are totally different things, absolutely. Governments come and go. You might be fond of [the government] or dislike it—this is all a temporal thing. But motherland is forever.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course it is possible to be a patriot and disagree with the government—this is absolutely not a rare occurrence. Love of motherland is such an inner state; it doesn’t mean that you should be pleased with everything, but it is your country. If you haven’t got it in you, then you are free to go live anywhere else.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought of leaving Russia. I think it’s easier to move when you are young, but when I was young, I didn’t have such a desire. Then I got an interesting job, I traveled all over the world, saw a lot, so I think I look a bit differently at this—citizenship and everything. It seemed strange to me also when our experts were moving to other countries, thinking that they would go there and live by Russian or Ukrainian laws. Well, of course, if you are interested in these people, this culture, then it’s great to come and see. But moving... Although I felt very comfortable in India, I wouldn’t like to stay there forever.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are mostly people who come here with some mercantile interests, and that’s why they are not trying to become citizens of this country. One should put some effort into this, but they mostly live on their own and think that they can live here by their own laws and rules. But this might be an issue for the whole world now, not only for Russia. Germany suffers from the same problems, and Europe as a whole, and America, too. I mean, migrants lock themselves in, form their own communities, and live like that. It is easier to live like that, in your own community. But when a person comes to a foreign country, he must understand that there are its own laws there, its own culture and traditions, so if he desires to become its citizen, he must follow its laws and not try to set his own.

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Sergei, retired engineer and taxi-driver, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

Firstly, a real Russian should be a patriot. Secondly—a doer, a creator.

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

I have, of course, done patriotic acts. I served in the army; I was proud of my country, the Soviet Union, and I’m proud of Russia now, in principle. And if there are military actions, I’ll always stand up for Russia, of course.

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

Love of motherland and love of government are not the same thing, of course. Love of your motherland is, so to speak, genetically given to you. This attitude toward your motherland, it comes to you with your mother’s milk. But the government might of course be criticized. Although, as an adult, I understand quite well that nothing is done at once, and you can’t be good for everybody. But I think, things [for Russia] will turn out well eventually.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

One can definitely be a patriot and disagree with the government. We’ve got many such people. Look at the opposition in Moscow, for instance, at Navalny and others. I don’t think that they are not patriots. They are patriots, but they disagree with the authorities. Government has got its sordid motives, its commercial interests. Like in any country, we’ve got people who come to power and do what they shouldn’t be doing. They promote their own interests, invade markets, gas and oil markets, etc.

Have you considered emigration?

I personally haven’t thought of emigrating. But my kid does. She hasn’t lived abroad yet, just visited. Well, she’ll live on and see. Life will show.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel neutral about migrants. I understand these people. I understand that it’s not a good life that forces them to come here for work. People come to earn money; they need to feed their families. At his home, he receives $200, and he’s got a family of five people. Of course he’d go seek something better, somewhere he could earn more. But it doesn’t mean that he comes here forever: he comes, makes money, and goes. The same thing happens in America and in all other countries. Take Germany: blacks and Turks and others come there and earn money. It’s a normal thing, so to speak.

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Amir, 18, student, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is, I suppose, a patriot of his country. If he’s got a choice about whether to go abroad for work—to America, for instance—or stay in Russia, to work for its recovery, then he chooses his motherland.

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

I might have done something patriotic, but I don’t remember it now. Like in my childhood, when someone needed help, helping an old lady to cross the road. I think that this is a patriotic act, to some extent.

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

I don’t think that loving your motherland is the same thing as loving your government. Many people love their motherland but dislike its government. These are totally different things.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

It might be possible to be a patriot and disagree with the government. I don’t reject such a possibility.

Have you considered emigration?

I don’t think about emigration. I only moved to Russia recently and I like everything still. Russia is a more open country; there are many opportunities here.

What do you think about migrants?

How do I feel about migrants? It depends on who is meant: unskilled laborers or average people. Basically, people who come to Kaliningrad are normal; they are all adequate. My relative from Moscow visited recently and said that there are a lot fewer black faces here than in Moscow.

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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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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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I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice. I don't want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born of blood and falsehood.

Albert Camus. Resistance, Rebellion, and Death
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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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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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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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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Nikita, 12, Kaliningrad

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a proud person who loves and respects his or her country.

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 country, and the government consists of people who are supposed to improve this country.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

In theory, you can be a patriot and disagree with the government because governments can be different: some work to improve the situation, [while] others can make it worse or leave things half-finished.

Have you considered emigration?

I do not think about leaving Russia. I love the place where I was born.

What do you think about migrants?

have no problems with migrants. It is for them to decide whether to come or not. They look for a better place because for some reason, they feel uncomfortable in their native countries.

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