Siberia(12)
Khan, 29, migrant worker, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who was born in Russia.

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Galina Petrovna, teacher at a village community center, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian must love Russia and especially the region where he was born and raised, the place that gave him his life.

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

It’s hard to say whether I have done something patriotic. I think I have, because I was born at a time when there existed pioneer and Komsomol youth organizations, and we were raised to think in terms of patriotism. I thought of myself as a patriot when I studied in high school; I was always participating in something and was even a chairman of a pioneer brigade. People would listen to me [and] follow my example.

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

I think that love of motherland and of government are different things. We’ve only got one motherland, and governors change. Just as any one person might be loved or not, so it is with governors.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think it is possible to be a patriot and to disagree with the government. I bring up my children by my example, and I must raise them into people who love their motherland, Russia. This is the main thing. But, of course, sometimes I disagree with politicians, and I might disagree with my governors.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve never thought of moving away from Russia. I was born in Siberia and I never abandoned my region, because I like the village. I’ve never dreamt of cities and other countries. Besides, I’ve never had the opportunity to go anywhere. I’m an ordinary villager; a town has never attracted me, and I’ve never taken any special trips. I’ve only been to Magadan.

What do you think about migrants?

It depends. Before jumping to conclusions I would need to communicate with this person.

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Natalia, art director, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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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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Konstantin Iosifovich, 86, retired, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who was born in Russia, whose family lives here, and who does not intend to leave.

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

My patriotic act was working in the mines.

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

Why isn’t the government part of the motherland? It is still our government; Russia is still ruled by Russians—not by Americans. It is however, unclear, who Russia’s next rulers will be.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

How can one disagree with the government? How can one love one’s motherland and at the same time disagree with the government? If one disagrees, then he or she should be banished from the country so as to prevent him or her from getting in the way and spoiling everything.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never even thought about leaving Russia. One should live where one was born. Nowadays, everyone straggles off, even my grandchildren. Why the heck are they doing this? Where have they gone to? What do they hope to find there? They have no business going abroad. They should be living in Russia instead of wasting their time in the United States or in London. There is nothing good there.

What do you think about migrants?

Let migrants work if Russians cannot do it. Nowadays, Russia does not produce anything. People have no jobs. Nobody knows how to homestead. People do not even know how to milk a cow.

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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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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.

 

Nikolai, construction worker, Tyumen Region

What makes someone a real Russian?

I think that a real Russian is someone who cares for the country where he or she lives regardless of his or her nationality. If he or she is a patriot of this land, I consider this person a genuine human being.

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

I do not believe I have ever performed any real patriotic deeds. I have worked for my whole life. This is my good deed, my contribution.

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

I think that love of the motherland and love of the state are different things. Love of the motherland is love of the motherland, whereas the government consists of people who sometimes make mistakes.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think that a patriot can disagree with the government because not everything that the government does can be considered patriotic. The government’s current behavior is unpatriotic. Government officials all claim that the country’s industry is growing, but all I can see is fields overgrown with wild grass and farms that are falling apart.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about leaving Russia, of course. I have never thought about that, and besides, I have never had any opportunities to leave.

What do you think about migrants?

I think migrants come to Russia for the money, that's all.

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Farhat, 40, driver, Tyumen

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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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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Frida, retired, Tyumen region

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is a person who loves his or her land. But anyone can be Russian, regardless of their skin color or education level. However, it's not necessary to divide people into nations.

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

I didn't have the chance to perform a patriotic act in my lifetime. When I was young, I think I could have done something patriotic, but I just didn't get a chance.

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

I don't think that it's the same. Our government is a small bunch of people, but the motherland doesn't consist of these people only. The motherland is one’s own land, air, trees, cities. I love my village, my house—that's my motherland. But for someone else, his city is the most beautiful and the best, —that's his motherland. And I think that these small pieces of personal motherlands form our common homeland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Why not? It is quite reasonable not to agree with the authorities. The authorities can be different, but people are different too.

Have you considered emigration?

I've never thought of emigration. I could have left, but my motherland is Russia. Why should I go somewhere else? My soul would hurt abroad.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants are just unfortunate people, driven away by a poor life at home. They, too, have their motherland, families and children. But to survive, they need to earn money. For as long as I’ve lived, life has always depended on money for some reason.

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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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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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