Volga Region(32)
Nadezhda Grigorievna, retired engineer, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is an honest, decent, objective person. He is a volunteer who can work just for an idea; although there are not many people like that. I like them; I’m one of them myself.

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

I have done something patriotic. I was no longer a young woman, but when I saw that a man was being beaten with bottles, I stood up for him and saved him. I’m a patriot in everything: I do my work well; I help people. I can help with growing flowers, with road repair...

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

Usually it goes like this: people are patriots, and the government is isolated from people. Not only the government, but any superiors—which is rather bad.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve never thought about emigration. I’ve traveled across Russia a lot, but have never been abroad. I’m not interested in it.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel neutral toward migrants. There are all sorts of people you have to deal with at your country house. Sometimes I even feel sorry for them—when they build something at my dacha, for instance. But I like foreigners: Germans, Balts. They are much like Russians, but they think differently.

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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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Tatiana, set designer, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Vera, 33, manager, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Dina, 34, event planner, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Galina Nikolaevna, 83, retired, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is Putin. I voted and will vote for Putin if he’s a candidate again.

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

A patriotic act is to save someone if he’s drowning or in a fire. I don’t know if I’ve done anything like that.

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. We’ve got such a state now, Heaven forbid! Neither capitalism, nor communism—I don’t know what we’ve got now.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think that more or less intelligent people come to power.

Have you considered emigration?

I’ve never thought of leaving Russia. I’m pleased with everything. But my daughter lives in Slovenia: with the beginning of her pension, she just left for Europe to live.

What do you think about migrants?

I feel bad toward migrants. They are so rude—so rude! Heaven forbid, heaven forbid!

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

Lin Yutang
Kostya, 15, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

Russians are normal, kind people.

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

The motherland can never be sold. As for the government and police, I don’t like them. A law was recently passed prohibiting smoking in public places—but cops themselves still smoke [in public].

Have you considered emigration?

I’d emigrate to Hollywood, Scotland, or Ireland. I’d want to live there in my own house.

What do you think about migrants?

I can’t stand non-Russians, darkies [people from the Caucasus region], churkas [people from Central Asia].

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Anton, 18, student, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

What is a real Russian? I do not even know.

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

I have never done anything patriotic. This probably means military service.

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 a country, its natural resources and so on, whereas the state is a government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about emigrating.

What do you think about migrants?

My attitude toward migrants is absolutely neutral.

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Tamara Alexandrovna, retired merchandiser, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who loves his or her motherland.

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

I have never done any patriotic acts. I think for a man, doing a patriotic act consists of joining the army, completing his military service, and then returning home, finding a job, building a family, loving his family and his motherland.

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. The motherland is home. You can love your motherland, but you cannot love the government.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government. One should not agree with the government at all. The government lives its own life that is different from ours.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about leaving Russia myself. But when my son was 18, I wanted him to go abroad to get a degree—and then come back home, of course. I wanted him to have an opportunity to live somewhere else besides Russia so that he would have something to compare his life in Russia with.

What do you think about migrants?

I am comfortable with migrants.

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Konstantin, 23, human rights activist, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

I think about emigrating all the time.

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Anastasia, 18, student, Tolyatti

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

I doubt I've done anything patriotic.

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

Your motherland is the place where you were born; the state is the place where you live, the government. Motherland is something more spiritual.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can disagree with the government. Most of our population lives like that. We all love our country, but we don’t like what happens in it.

Have you considered emigration?

Of course I have thought about emigration. I’d like to move, but there’s no such opportunity right now. Maybe something will change here and living standards will improve.

What do you think about migrants?

Owing to migrants, our population grows. Many are disappointed with the fact that the number of us natives is decreasing because we leave the country and others come. Probably where they come from, it’s even worse.

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Grigory, 21, construction worker, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Aleksandr, 19, law student, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is, first of all, an non-aggressive person. A real Russian is, however, not wimpy, which is to say, as he or she is usually portrayed.

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

I used to be a member of a youth human rights movement, and I know people who fight so that laws are observed and everyone is treated properly. I saw the authorities put pressure on these people instead of supporting them, as they are supposed to. The authorities are putting pressure on these people, human rights organizations are being shut down, and despite all that, these people do not give up and still try to make a difference. I think that this is what true patriotism is.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can disagree with the government, especially if we are talking about our current government. If you try to do something for other people, for the protection of human rights, and all the while you are being portrayed in a bad light and the authorities are saying that you are shit, that you are some sort of an agent, when pressure is being put on you and your financial support is being stopped, then you might begin feeling some sort of hatred toward the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I have been thinking about emigrating a lot; this idea has haunted me since I was eleven. Both my best friend at the time and I wanted to leave. There is no moving forward here. If you disregard certain limits, you are not welcome here, and consequently you have to look for other options, but you will not find them here.

What do you think about migrants?

I have no problems with migrants. I treat them like any other people. A person’s nationality, his or her sexual orientation, and other such things make no difference to me. This is simply none of my business. To each his own. One should just try to put themselves in migrants’ shoes and understand what made them come to Russia and what the situation in their native countries is. As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as “borders.” Both their native country and Russia can be their home.

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

 

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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Alexander, 18, architecture student, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

I do not know what a real Russian is.

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

A patriotic act is something to do with the military, with grandeur. In this sense, I have never done a patriotic act.

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

Love for the motherland and love for the state are different things. The state is one thing; the motherland is a completely different one.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I think you can be a patriot and disagree with the government. Because patriotism is sort of a thing of the past, and we have an entirely different government now.

Have you considered emigration?

I thought about emigrating at some point. It seemed to me at the time that there would be no prospects for me here after I finish my studies.

What do you think about migrants?

I treat newcomers differently depending on where they come from. I have a negative attitude toward Uzbeks and other such nationalities. I have, however, no problems with those who come from civilized countries such as the United States. They are just tourists.

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Vlad, hip-hop dancer, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Dmitry, theater directing student, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Yury Evgenievich, 76, retired, Tolyatti

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

The important thing is not to lie.

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

I don’t like the state with its “sweet couple.” [implying Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev]. Old people vote for Putin, and I stay to be a dissident.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

I’m a patriot, but I don’t support state powers of any kind.

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t been abroad. But if I possessed enough money and if I were oppressed like those who were at Bolotnaya Square, I’d leave. We are all people; everyone wants to live.

What do you think about migrants?

I’m not a radical nationalist. I don’t want ethnic cleansing. I’m acquainted with Georgians, Armenians, and Moldovans. But there have been several cases when I risked getting punched in my face [by a migrant], so in some sense, I embrace nationalism.

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Lyudmila, retired librarian, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who loves his or her motherland.

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

Have I ever performed any patriotic deeds? I try to live like this.

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

Love for the motherland and for the government are different things. There is only one motherland, whereas governments change all the time.

Have you considered emigration?

No, I have not thought about leaving Russia.

What do you think about migrants?

If migrants choose to come to Russia, they should accept our traditions and love this land as we do. They should try to make it richer and more beautiful.

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Anastasia, theater student, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who really loves his or her motherland, its nature, its landmarks, and who tries his or her hardest to help our country move forward. In my opinion, this is the most important thing, because today’s Russia is not, so to speak, looked on favorably by other countries. Our country is really wonderful—it is immense and beautiful. However, many foreigners do not see it that way, and this is a shame. In American cartoons, Russians are always portrayed with a bottle of vodka, wearing a Russian hat, and accompanied by a bear who dances to a harmonica. Such stereotyped images are often used.

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

I believe I have done patriotic things. We had a basics of safety and survival teacher in school, Alexander Ivanov, and he tried to instill patriotism in us. We used to organize neighborhood cleanups together to clean the streets and parks of our city. One has to take care of one’s country to make sure that it is beautiful. Even nowadays, I sometimes want to take a walk through the streets of the city with a bag to collect trash, but, unfortunately, I have no time for this.

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. I do not remember who said that “I love my country, but I hate the state.” I agree with this statement. Governments change, but the country remains the same.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

A patriot can and maybe even should disagree with the government. Of course, it all depends on the government, and people are not always able to make a change. You really have to push the Russian people to the limit in order for them to join street rallies. Maybe this is what will soon happen. Russian people are actually very strong.

Have you considered emigration?

I sometimes think about emigrating. I have never been abroad, but I think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Every country has its problems.

What do you think about migrants?

Migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia flee the problems in their native countries and come to Russia because in this country, they are offered the opportunity to make a better living. Russian people, however, do not always have the same opportunity to earn money, and this is a problem. But in general, if migrants like our country, they should be allowed to live here on the condition that they accept our laws and traditions. In other words, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

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

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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Valentina, retired construction worker, Tolyatti

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

To do a patriotic act means to do something for one’s country, to improve something. I might have done something like that, but I cannot remember what anymore.

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

Not everyone loves his or her motherland.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Can a patriot disagree with the government? I do not know. Some people agree, others do not.

Have you considered emigration?

I would not want to move to a different country even if I had the means. I would never exchange Russia for any other country. No matter how poorly we Russians live, our motherland is still the best there is. Something is wanting, of course, but I do not know who is to blame for that.

What do you think about migrants?

I do not want to talk about migrants. Too many of them have come to our country.

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Andrei, 32, unemployed, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I have been thinking about moving to Germany.

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Vladimir Alexandrovich, engineer, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who respects Russian laws, someone who is ethnic Russian Natives of the Caucasus want independence; they are forming their own expatriate community. I do not consider them Russians.

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

I have never performed any patriotic deeds because I have never fought in any wars — I was three years old when the Second World War broke out.

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 cannot have any respect for Russia’s current government—this government is against the people. It does not do anything. Thievery goes unpunished.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Of course a patriot can disagree with the government. There is actually no other way. A patriot should have his or her own opinion. But in order for that to happen, he or she should get an education, master philosophy, psychology, logic, mathematics. Only then can one form his or her personal opinion about anything.

Have you considered emigration?

I have never thought about leaving Russia. I am a patriot. My aunt lives in Moscow, and when her husband occupied a top position there, I could easily have moved to Moscow myself, but such an idea did not even occur to me. Even if I were offered a job with a big salary, I would not move.

What do you think about migrants?

Why do migrants come to Russia? They come because somebody has an interest in having them here—be it the authorities, businessmen, or the government. Migrants are employed because they represent a low-cost labor force compared to Russians. Migrants work while Russians have no jobs. I am opposed to migrants coming to Russia. Let them live as they choose in their own countries.

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Nadezhda, flower vendor, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Have you considered emigration?

I haven’t considered emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Elena, fish monger, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

Patriots can disagree with the authorities.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about emigration.

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Siyavush, 24, taxi driver, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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

Guy de Maupassant. My Uncle Sosthenes
Evgeniy, 27, forest ranger, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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Sergei Alekseyevich, 78, heating engineer, Samara

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

If you look at my service record, you will find a lot of commendations and certificates of merit. A patriotic act means working well. Patriots who would protect fortresses with their bodies existed in the Soviet times. I do not see any patriots today.

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

The motherland and the state amount to the same thing.

Have you considered emigration?

I have not thought about leaving Russia. I have lived in this city for fifty years.

What do you think about migrants?

I respect all peoples.

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Yury, 12, Volgograd

What makes someone a real Russian?

Not sure, maybe the Russian national soccer team, something like that.

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. Love for the motherland can be different, since for the government, it is all about the laws by which our country lives.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

In order to be a patriot, you have to abide by the laws. Otherwise, you are not a patriot.

What do you think about migrants?

Some migrants know how to build houses,houses; others know how to build roads. They have a stronger inclination for work. They are human beings just like we are. The only difference is that they belong to a different people.

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Yuliya, 19, attends beauty school, Tolyatti

What makes someone a real Russian?

A real Russian is someone who was born and lives in Russia.

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

I do not believe I have ever 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.

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

You can be a patriot and disagree with the government.

Have you considered emigration?

I do not think about leaving Russia, nor have I ever been abroad.

What do you think about migrants?

I have a negative attitude toward migrants. They are all bad people. I have no respect for them for some reason. They are all rude and behave themselves improperly. They should not be allowed to come to our country.

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Oksana, 33, lawyer, Samara

What makes someone a real Russian?

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

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

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

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

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

Can a patriot disagree with the government?

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

Have you considered emigration?

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

What do you think about migrants?

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

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