What does it mean being Russian? And who can say about himself/herself – “I am Russian”?
This question was raised in one blog post, translation of which you can find below. More interesting, however, is not the post itself, but the comments made by its readers (some of which are also posted here).
In Russian language the word “nationality” is absolutely different from its counterpart in English language. Rather than “citizenship” it refers to the mixture of terms – “ethnicity”, “nation” and “national self-identification”.
Thus, one must distinguish between the words “россиянин” [rossiyanin] – Russian citizen, and “русский” [russkiy] – Russian by nationality.
This whole post is about the latter definition and the term “nationality” in the text below is used according to the Russian definition of the word.
What is the national identity of which lately they speak so often?
The national identity is bullshit … At this point I could have finished the post on this topic, if it wasn’t so sensitive and so intensively discussed.
To write about it I was prompted by a folk music festival which we attended in one German town. On this day Germans wear the national short leather pants, recklessly wander through the streets, drinking beer and watching the performances of various dance groups.
So I thought to myself – wearing once a year short pants on a holiday – is it enough to be a German? What does is generally mean to be German? Or Russian?
To be Russian – does it mean to speak Russian? But Ukrainians also speak Russian. And so the Kazakhs. And some British.
Maybe being Russian – is to consider Russian as the native language? But here’s an example – in Moscow lives a man who, besides Russian doesn’t know any other languages. And his surname is Akopyan. His mom and dad are Armenians. Is he Russian?
Or to be Russian one must know the history of this country? Well, firstly – nobody knows it. Few people remember who was the first tsar or when Peter the Great died. However, everyone shouts about their Russianness. And secondly, the knowledge of history makes one a historian, not a Russian.
Wise men say that person has the nationality to which he refers himself. Man says that he is Belorussian – then he is Belorussian and not Russian. But ask him what it means in practice or how one is different from another, and he will never be able to explain.
Maybe, nationality is ethnicity? Then what is ethnicity? Biology? However, blood test cannot determine the nationality. A drop of blood can not distinguish between the native Belorussian and the cross of Ukrainian with Russian. Or is ethnicity the way of wearing the national rags and compliance with the tribal prejudice – “we don’t eat pork, but we are not Muslims, we are Jews because we hate Muslims”. Is that so?
What is your nationality? What does this mean? And why do you identify yourself with a huge group of people completely unknown to you? On what grounds? Are these people the same as you; if yes – in what? Professional success? Love for stamps? Level of education?
Reactions of Russian netizens
shevler: I, Kokayev Dmitry Dzibushevich, am Russian. Besides Russian language don’t know any other languages. Have eaten only Russian food and vodka. Use Russian foul speech and have a good sense of humor which is important in determining the nationality.
[Note: the commenter's surname and paternal name imply that his father is not Russian]
stekolnik: I am Russian, because I was born on the territory of RF [ed: Russian Federation] and have Russian passport – that’s it, I don’t care about anything else – neither patriotism, nor Orthodoxy (with which I am constantly bothered by close relatives).я русский, потому что родился на территории РФ и имею российский паспорт, и всё собственно, больше меня ничего не волнует, ни патриотизм, ни православие (которым меня уже просто достали окружающие близкие родственники)
zmey_gavrilych: I don’t relate myself to any nationality. My mother is of one nationality, father – of another, while I was born in the country of the third nationality. So what nationality am I – nobody gives a fuck :o)А я себя вообще ни к какой национальности не причисляю. Мама у меня одной национальности, папа другой, а родился в стране с третьей национальностью. Поэтому какой я национальности – хз :o)
korvin100: Of interest is people’s attitude to folk music. On instinctual level I like the sound of the accordion and balalaika – dashing and melancholic melody of Russian songs. (though, listen to the words – it is garbage). And somehow catchy anyway …интересно отношение людей к НАРОДНОЙ музыке. на уровне инстинкта нравятся звуки гармони или балалайки и лихая или тоскливая мелодия русских песен. (в слова вслушаешься – фигня какая то). но вот цепляет…
But the sounds of dombra and other Asian musical instruments are annoying .. I feel them as unpleasant … and to someone they caress the ear.а звуки домры и прочих гундяво зудящих музыкальных инструментов азии.. ощущаются как неприятные… а кому то – ласкают слух
sergeyzag: You’re right as always. Nationality is bullshit. I will say more – the more there is national in a man – the worse and less pleasant is the communication with him.Вы как всегда правы. Национальность – хуйня. Скажу больше – чем больше в человеке национального – тем он хуже, и тем менее с ним приятно общаться.