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Experts from Russian Diaspora United
– Six regional conferences were held this year, I managed to visit five of them. It was very important experience for me, because I had an opportunity to listen to compatriots, who live in very different corners of the earth, to hear, what are the most relevant problems for them. I can say that the problems are more or less the same. First and foremost, they are the problems of saving the Russian language. This issue has a different scale of relevancy, of course, but they are discussed almost everywhere. One more important problem was compatriots’ rights defense.
I would like to mention that the Fund for Compatriots’ Abroad Rights Support and Defense has been quite successfully running for several years now and its representatives have taken part in most regional conferences. I have to say that such an active cooperation of the Fund with compatriots does have its effect, as thanks to it, centres of legal support in different countries of the world are being opened and compatriots understand, what kind of projects the Fund is ready to support and what are the situations when it is worth appealing for help.
Issues of Compatriots consolidation were also discussed, although this question is mostly decided on. Compatriots coordination councils were created in 98 countries of the world. It is more than likely that their number will rise to a hundred in the nearest time.
I also would like to say that this year regional coordination councils were introduced. The system used to be two-stage – there were only country councils and the World council. I was present at the first meetings of these regional coordination councils in different regions of the world. Well, it is difficult to estimate anything now – their effectiveness will only depend on the people, who became its members and heads. But I can say that we will be able to see some development and success in some regions.
– World Compatriots Theme Conference “Together with Russia” will be held at the beginning of November. What main questions are going to be discussed there?
– The aims and purposes of the regional conference and the one, which will be held on November 1-2 in Moscow, differ anyhow. Regional conferences are the sites, where compatriots can tell their wishes to the Russian state, determine sore spots and to agree on their closer cooperation.
What comes to the “Together with Russia” conference in autumn – even its name tells a lot about it. Russia is now in a difficult situation – I mean the political pressure it experiences from all the sides. I think, it is a good reason for compatriots to show that they are interested in communicating with Russia not only in order to get grants and to have an opportunity to make trips to Russia in the framework of different programmes, but also to demonstrate that during these difficult times Russia and compatriots are a united organism, as despite most compatriots live outside of Russia, they clearly feel the unity with it.
Some problem issues are going to be discussed, as well. But I think that compatriots should think how they can be useful for Russia in the modern difficult world.
– Have you met any interesting experience of such compatriots’ work during the year you spent as the Chairman of the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots Abroad?
– Certainly, diaspora’s representatives in every corner of the world have their own achievements and in this respect, I’d not highlight any country or a coordination council – they all work to their full extent. But we heard the same idea at many conferences, some of them supported the one that I told about a year ago: that we should attract the expert society to compatriots activities. We have already organized small schools, celebrated religious festivals, holidays and memorable dates. There are still many our compatriots with high competences, but who are still not involved in compatriots associations’ activities. This issue has been discussed in all the parts of the Russian World. I think, we are going to start working in this direction.
We want to suggest them an opportunity to place information about them in a special electronic platform. It will be interesting for them, too. People from Russian business and state authorities will be able to address them. At the same time, we will be able to understand what representatives of the expert society are engaged in what spheres in different countries of the world. It can be Russian doctors, artists, scientists, consultants and lawyers.
– You have been living in Chana for many years now. What is the Russian diaspora like in this country now?
– China is a unique country in a sense – it was one of the main centers of the first Russian emigration. Harbin, Shanghai and Beijing have given shelter to many Russian refugees, who ended up here after the Civil war. What comes to Harbin – it was almost a Russian city; by the time of October Revolution in 1917, many Russian compatriots, who were connected with the Chinese-Eastern Railroad, lived here. But history sometimes turns cartwheels: most of those people run from Bolshevists and when communists headed by Mao Zedong came to power in 1949 in China, many of them decided to run farther. Many circumstances pushed them to do so – thus, a word leaked about emigrant’s arrests organized by SMERSH after our troops came into Manchukuo. So, almost all the Russian emigration moved out of China at the end of 1940s - beginning of 1950s and by the beginning of the cultural revolution in, for example, Shanghai, only few Russians remained.
The new wave of emigration emerged after 1989 – after Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to China and met the leader of the country Deng Sao Ping. They announced resuming our relations and improving their level. Starting from that moment, students started visiting China and many of them stayed there. After that, businessmen started moving there – the trade exchange in 1990s was quite active between our countries. It can be said that all the current diaspora has a professional character – people made China their profession and they feel quite well here. We should appreciate the Chinese in this sense – they treat foreigners kindly and especially Russians.
– What comes saving the Russian language - do representatives of the current diaspora want their children to study Russian?
– Recalling the history of the first emigration wave, which ended up in the Celestial Empire – everyone noted, that precisely its people saved the Russian language best of all. Apparently, it was because the Chinese civilization differs from the European one too much and saving the Russian language here is easier than, for instance, in the US. So even now, the children of Russian people, have quite a good command of the Russian language. Children of mixed marriages do sometimes have problems. We have been doing one thing lately – we’ve been creating small weekend schools, where children can study Russian.
– Do Chinese people – especially young ones – do they have an interest for learning the Russian language? We know, Russian used to be very popular, is it still popular?
– English is certainly the first one, as it is everywhere in the world. But still, the situation with learning the Russian language is better than it might be. I saw such a period at the end of 1990s myself, when in some universities, where they used to teach Russian, it was decided to close Russian language departments. However, for example, in Shanghai they had three universities with Russian studies, and they are still there. So, I would not say they have made any serious steps forward in teaching the Russian language, but we have at least saved some achievements.
– Do Chinese students come to Russia to study?
– In general, they do more and more, all the more so if we take into account the currency exchange rate – studying in Russia has become quite attractive from the financial point of view. In addition, there is a number of universities, which tries to give its advertisement in China – for example, the Far-Eastern Federal University. Many Chinese students want to go to Moscow and Saint Petersburg to study, as do Russian students come to China. So, such an exchange is always going on.