Moscow(12)
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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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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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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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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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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Anna, art student, Moscow

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think that real Russians are something of a senior generation: patriots who really love their country. The younger ones, when they see what happens in our state and how other countries live, come to the conclusion that our country isn’t very good.

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?

I think that love of your motherland and love of your government are not the same things. Motherland is the place where you were born, it’s not the government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think that a patriot might well disagree with the government. One can love his country but not support and not really respect his government.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t thought about emigration, but a phrase constantly crosses my mind: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” You’ll have your own problems wherever you move to.

What do you think about migrants?

The quantity of migrants has increased, of course, and it is a problem. But our citizens don’t wish to work at the jobs that migrants agree to take: everyone longs to find a good job and earn good money. This means that there are vacancies and we need migrants. But for me, the main problem is that it’s just not nice when you walk down the street and hear many people speaking in their own languages. They should learn Russian, of course.

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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.

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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