Saturday, April 25, 2015

Emigres from Russia Increasingly Numerous and Diverse, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, April 25 – Over the last year, the number of people emigrating from Russia has doubled and become increasingly diverse, with its representatives ranging from those who have become patriots of their new countries of residence to a fifth column which supports Russia against them and wishes them ill, according to Kseniya Kirillova.


            Kirillova, herself a Russian living near Seattle, there are four basic kinds of “psychological types” to be found among the new wave of Russian emigres. First of all, there are the patriots, people who have loved and closely identified with the country they are from and find it difficult to make a transition (


            “It is much more complicated for ‘a patriot’ to move to another state than it is for the other categories because he feels a greater attachment not only to particular places which are dear to him but a closeness to the country as a whole.”  The loss of the motherland is thus “most often” a tragedy” for him, Kirillova says.


            There are two major subgroups within the patriot category, she continues, defined by the nature of their break with their homeland.  The first includes those whose break was “dramatic,” the result of persecution of disappointment with or anger at the government under which they had been living.


            “As a rule in such cases,” Kirillova continues, “the attitude toward the former motherland sooner or later is transferred by such an individual to the country where he now lives.” That is a major “plus” for the receiving country because “the émigré ‘patriot’ sincerely will try to bring something good to his new motherland.”


            That is not to say that such people always fit in easily: they can feel that their love is unrequited and react negatively; and because they did feel positive feelings about their original homeland, these may come back in play under such circumstances, Kirillova says.


            The second subgroup of émigré patriots includes those who departure from their country of origin occurred without any sharp break. As a result, they typically do not make the emotional transfer from it to their new place of residence; and their feelings about the two may be more conflicted than among members of the first subgroup.


That is not to say that they will not try to make a contribution to the new one, Kirillova argues, but rather to insist that they will do so without the emotional investment that some might expect even if they are positively inclined toward their new place of residence.  But it does mean that in the case of a conflict between the two, they may very well choose the former.


            The second category includes the cosmopolitans, she argues. These people consider the whole notion of “’a motherland’” as “unnecessary and even harmful.” They are not patriotic in the usual sense and feel little or no moral responsibility before the country where they live or whose citizens they are.


            Of course, she says, people in this group are have positive as well as negative characteristics, and “in developed European countries, cosmopolitan is just a form of worldview like any other kind.” Problems arise, however, only if the receiving country requires an oath of allegiance, something many cosmopolitans have problems with.


            The third category are the “vatniks,” a Russian slang term for “fanatic patriot” and used here “not as a synonym for ‘Putinist’ or ‘imperialist’ but more properly as ‘sov,’” someone who retains the Soviet worldview and believes that the government of whatever country he finds himself in has an obligation to help him and gets upset if in his view it doesn’t do enough.


            Finally, Kirillova says, there is the fourth category, for which she uses the term “’fifth column.’” Those in this category may have any one of a number of political views from communism to cosmopolitanism, but they are set apart by the fact that they declare that they “dream about the collapse of this country and await that development with impatience.”


            If those who hold such views act upon them, they will naturally fall afoul of their host country’s criminal system. But “among this category of people, the percentage of those who in one way or another violate the law is quite high” because they “provide false data to obtain political asylum” and hide their incomes from taxation.


            Such people justify these actions according to the principle that “the end justifies the means” and that when there is a war one, everything is fair if it promotes the victory of their side.  Such attitudes do little to endear them to those they live among, and their isolation only intensifies their feelings – and in their minds justifies them.


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