Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Zakharova Says Angry Trump Supporters Thinking about Taking Russian Citizenship

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 18 – Speaking on Vladimir Solovyev’s program this week, Mariya Zakharova, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that supporters of Donald Trump, angry at his departure from the Oval Office, are exploring the possibility of acquiring Russian citizenship and even emigrating to Russia.

            She said that social media are filled with comments from American supporters of Trump about how to obtain Russian citizenship, adding that she and others welcome this given what she says is the increasingly repressive situation such people face in the United States (

            In reporting this, Dmitriy Rodionov of Svobodnaya pressa says in response: “Is this serious? Possible, there have been a few requests in social media from American supporters of Trump but most likely one is talking at most about a few individuals,” like Steve Siegel or the handful of Westerners who have moved to Russia.

            But even the opening of legal cases against those who tried to seize the US capital on January 6, the commentator continues, is hardly likely to become “a sufficient basis for emigration, all the more to mysterious Russia, about which the majority of Americans know nothing besides that negative information” they have gotten since Cold War times.

            Andrey Koryakovtsev, a scholar at the Urals State Pedagogical University, agrees and points out that “you do not see any political emigration from the US in recent times.” Some people said they would leave when Trump came to office, but few actually did – and those went mainly to Canada, a place Americans are far more familiar with than Russia.

            With Trump’s defeat, he continues, Trump supporters face difficult times, less from the government than from private companies, private media and private individuals. If they look to Russia, Koryakovtsev says, it will be only because of what is happening within the US rather than any attraction to Russia per se.

            For that to change, the Russian government will need to decide how it feels about such a trend and what messages it then sends.

            Gevorg Mizayan, an instructor at Moscow’s Finance University, is even more dismissive of Zakharova’s remarks. Her words are “hardly serious.” Americans aren’t going to apply for Russian citizenship because it is “uninteresting” to them “period.” Moreover, they aren’t going to suffer massive repressions.

            And finally and most important, were Trump supporters to apply for Russian citizenship, that would only weaken their cause because most other Americans would see that as evidence that they are in fact agents of Moscow. Trumpists are going to stay in the US and fight their battles there. If any do take Russian citizenship, they will be dismissed as “freaks.”

            But Fyodor Biryukov, a member of the political council of the Rodina Party, says that many Trump supporters have the right to be furious given that the 2020 US elections were “the most anti-democratic in the entire history of the contemporary West” and even succeeded in making Russia’s 1996 vote look free and fair.

            But despite that, he doesn’t think Americans will come to Russia in large numbers: First of all, he argues, “we need them more there than here; and second, they wouldn’t like it here.”  Radical Trumpists like to have guns, don’t like high taxes, and spit on political correctness. They wouldn’t fit it.

            “Imagine them in contemporary Russia: disarmed, nude, and censored. The only thing they could count on perhaps would be to become an extra on some Moscow television show.”

            But this raises a bigger question: “In order to make Russia attractive for foreign citizens, Russia must become attractive for Russians. And here there are problems. Polls show that ever more young people want to leave the country, and the size of emigration from Russia is growing, Biryukov continues.

            At the same time, he says that Zakharova is a brave girl who is filling “with distinction” her role as the prima ballerina of the foreign ministry. Her appearance, the Russian politician continues, was foretold by American science fiction writer Norman Spinrad in his 1991 novel, Russian Spring. (A Russian edition appeared the following year.)

            His novel has as its heroine a beautiful Russian woman who loves to dance, as Zakharova is known to. “In the novel, the Russians achieve great successes. I hope,” Biryukov concludes, “that this American prediction will be fulfilled!”


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