Staunton, November 4 – There are “two Russian worlds” now, and no one should confuse them, Andrey Kolesnikov says. The Russian authorities have their “own Russian world or more precisely Russian myth,” while the Russians themselves have their very different one which is truly universal.
Lavrov’s essay, Kolesnikov says, has been published in advance of the upcoming World Congress of Russian Compatriots and represents the beginning of “an ideological legitimation of a new ‘invisible empire,’” one in which “the Russian World” will replace the more geographically limited “’Novorossiya’” as an ideological meme.
This “’empire,’” he suggests, will include not only Eastern Ukraine but also Syria and even “some active Russian community” elsewhere, including perhaps in Chicago.
There really is a Russian world in that American city and elsewhere too, but it is not the Russian world of Lavrov and the Kremlin. The real Russian world and not the regime’s version is active and adaptive. In the Baltics, for example, its members are “completely satisfied with the status of EU citizens – even those who for some reason remain non-citizens” of the countries in which they live. Such people don’t need to be “united,” as Lavrov imagines.
The real “Russian world is becoming globalist, and this involves not only oligarchs large and small from now becoming mythical Londongrad but also and more often completely ordinary representatives of the middle class,” Kolesnikov says, as anyone who has any contact with these communities can see.
Several days ago, he witnesses this Russian world in an apartment in Brussels. There, one of his relatives criticized her daughter for “forgetting her Flemish language,” and the girl’s father via Skype from Dusseldorf said he was travelling to Liege and might stop in the Belgian capital to visit them.
This “Russian world,” Kolesnikov says, “is becoming trilingual, quadrilingual, global, and the main thing completely normal.” It hasn’t ceased to be Russian but it has become something more as well. And it has no interest in the imperial dreams of Lavrov and his boss in the Kremlin.
Indeed, representatives of the real Russian world don’t want Moscow’s assistance because where Moscow has intervened to provide “support,” it has brought war.
One way to get an idea of this “ordinary Russian world” is to look at an issue of the “Russky Berlin” newspaper and its personals column. There, “he seeks her, she seeks him, ‘even with physical shortcomings’ (yes, this was there albeit only in one case), and someone promises to make small repairs, and someone has something to sell or buy.”
“And in this small, pragmatic, but filled with love and warmth Russian world,” the Moscow journalist writes, “half if not more of the advertisers are Ukrainian men and Ukrainian women. There, no one is fighting on the basis of nationality because this world is real and not a political laboratory with invented but alas achieved conflicts.”
“This is the world Lev Tolstoy wrote about in War and Peace, a community of people united if you like by positive views of the world and not by a negative program, a program of opposition to Western civilization and a search for national traitors, enemies, foreign agents and fifth columns.”
In his article, Lavrov says that Moscow will “support not only Russians but also for example Tatars and Jews,” including organizing “an all-European Sabantui in Great Britain.’”
Kolesnikov suggests “that beyond doubt is very important especially if you consider that the Russian Federation has already organized a world Sabantui with Crimea, the Donbas, and Syria.”
But the journalist adds that it might be better if Moscow did more to support such activities and the population of Russia itself instead of bringing Moscow prices to Crimea without bringing Moscow incomes to support them and if Moscow did more to make Russia attractive rather than alienating everyone.
The Kremlin’s “Russian world” is “an empire, a map and territory, which exists in the heads of the representatives of the current Russian establishment. And for this reason, in the West, people are afraid that Russian will shift its forces, for example, toward the Baltic countries.
There, in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, “there is no Russian world…and the ethnic Russian who live there now in general are not interested” in Moscow just as Moscow is not really interested in them. “The borders of [this] Russian world don’t extend further west than Eastern Ukraine.”