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An important question

Is there really any russophobia? Has Swan Lake been canceled everywhere? And what about the sanctions?


After February the 24th, Russophobia swept the world. At least, that is what the headlines in the Russian press assured us. In reality, terror and incomprehension overwhelmed the world. Irina Iakovleva explains why the tale of total abolition of Russian culture is just a doubtful horror story.

Xenophobia on the state level

On December the 7th 1941, the Japanese Empire struck Pearl Harbor.

On February the 19th 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which approved the transfer of all Japanese non-citizens and Japanese Americans to internment camps.

On March the 24th 1942, a curfew began for citizens of hostile nations (Japanese, Germans, and Italians).

On May the 3rd 1942, the transfer of Japanese, including those of American origin, to internment camps began. These people remained in these camps, in fact - barracks, until the end of the war. The camps were disbanded in 1945-46, when internees were allowed free passage, paid tickets home, and given $25 per person.

No one specified these people's political views, no one dealt with who exactly Japanese American citizens supported.

"I don't want any of them (people of Japanese descent) here. They are dangerous. There is no way to determine their loyalty...It doesn't matter if they are American citizens - they are Japanese anyway. American citizenship does not indicate loyalty. We should always be concerned about the Japanese until they are wiped off the face of the earth."

John L. DeWitt
U.S. Lt. Gen.

This is what classic state xenophobia looks like in war. People who are in any way associated with an aggressor country are stripped of their rights and isolated.

What about the Russians?

At the moment, such measures with respect to citizens of Russian origin are out of the question.

On the contrary, Western governments urge their citizens not to panic and not to spread their indignation at the actions of the Russian government to the entire Russian people.

Nevertheless, there is still tension in communication with Russian-speaking residents of Western countries. Moreover, the closer one gets to Russia itself, the stronger it grows.

In the Netherlands, when you hear that you are from Russia, you will at most be asked clarifying questions and listened to your point of view, but in Poland or Lithuania, you will be treated with hostility at the first sign of Russian speech.

The proximity of Russian troops to the borders of these countries has an impact.

As usual in such situations, the human factor is very strong. In other words, your attitude depends on the person you are talking to.

Unpleasant incidents

For example, in Warsaw, a couple was not allowed into a hotel, even though the man and his pregnant wife had rooms booked in advance. At the reception Russian-speaking citizens were informed about the “ban on serving Russians”.

Also, a group of young people had been on the road for three days - they were traveling by car from St. Petersburg in the direction of the Polish-Ukrainian border and were bringing their Ukrainian girlfriend, whose minor son stayed at home in the territory of military operations after his father was conscripted into the Ukrainian army.

Hotel officials explained the incident as "a result of misunderstanding arising in the hotel staff regarding emotions from the events in Ukraine," and assured them that there are no bans on admission of Russian citizens in hotels in Warsaw.

Leaving issues of personal contacts aside - because there is always an element of uncertainty - discrimination based on nationality is officially prohibited by law in most European countries.

This means that a person cannot be refused employment or deprived of some rights on the basis of the fact that he is Russian-speaking. If such situations arise, one can always go to court.

Official position

Russian authorities believe that Russians will soon be exterminated because they are the new Jews. This is not the first time the comparison to the Holocaust has been made.

Every year, we receive more and more appeals related to protecting the rights of compatriots abroad, and this year, the tension has only increased, Russian ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova told on the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum.

She cited the fates of Maria Butina, Oleg Nikitin and Konstantin Yaroshenko as examples of politically motivated prosecutions of our citizens. We continue to fight for Victor Bout, Alexander Franchetti, and Roman Seleznyov.

"Today, the largest group of appeals to us concerns extensive Russophobia, discrimination and infringement of rights on the basis of nationality, genocide," Moskalkova stressed. - I can only compare it to the Holocaust. Because the next stage is physical destruction. But we're already facing violent actions that turn out to be unpunished, real humiliation of people. (source - Rossiyskaya Gazeta).

And sanctions?

Russian citizens often confuse the unpleasant consequences of sanctions with russophobia.

In reality, the only official attempt of discrimination against people with Russian citizenship living in Europe now is the need to provide a European bank with a residence permit so that financial transactions on the account are not blocked.

Contrary to indignant reactions in Russian-speaking groups, this is now the general rule, not a way to show a certain ethnicity its 'undesirability'.

Unofficially, however, is a very different story. Some Russian students have received letters of expulsion from a European university that have nothing to do with their academic performance. Applicants were not admitted to educational institutions.

"My friend, who was applying to INSEAD this year, received a rejection yesterday. There was wording that, despite your high scores on the interview and essay, we will not accept students from Russia and Belarus, we hope you understand, "- says the student from Paris.

In some companies, Russian candidates were rejected on far-fetched pretexts, although it was obvious that the only reason was the citizenship of Russia. However, it is almost impossible to prove discrimination in such situations.

Fortunately, the cases described above are isolated and have not yet become widespread.

So was Tchaikovsky cancelled or what?

An interesting situation is now occurring with the “abolition of Russian culture”.

The fact is that Russians and Ukrainians, despite the absolute polarity of moral convictions at the moment in time, are connected, in fact, by a single Slavic culture.

Therefore, by accepting Ukrainian culture, Europe, to a certain extent, accepts Russian culture as well. Meaning, the cancellation of concerts and performances of Russian performers can affect only the pocket of these performers, but it does not threaten the Russian culture of the past centuries.

It is a strange fact, because Ukrainians are trying to maintain their national identity in these difficult times, many refuse to speak Russian or have any contact with Russia at all, but the common past of the peoples somehow makes itself felt - and Russian speech can be heard in the streets of European cities from the lips of Ukrainian refugees.

As for Russian propaganda, which for some reason insinuates to Russians left without external sources of information that the West is killing Russian classics, it is only a skillful use of isolated cases as indisputable evidence.

For example, when the Kiev authorities banned the Ukrainian ballet from performing Tchaikovsky's works, all the Russian media wrote about it. Although it is obvious that Europe had nothing to do with this decision.

An article in RFI about what is really happening to Russian culture in France and the position taken by cultural institutions, like many other similar articles, went unnoticed. Below is a quote from this material.

Another uncomplicated Google search gives us the Paris Philharmonic website, where on May 13 the symphony orchestra of the Ile-de-France metropolitan area performs Rachmaninoff's Etudes and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1. And at the Opéra de la Bastille, ticket sales will soon begin for the December performances of Swan Lake, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev. Finally, just on April 3, an exhibition of works from the Morozov Brothers' collections, which attracted more than 1.2 million visitors in six months, closed at the Fondation Louis Vuitton Museum in Paris.

It also completely ignored the fact that, despite the ongoing war in which Russia is the aggressor, a Russian film about a Russian composer was presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

In June, the Dutch National Opera and Ballet hosted the premiere of Kirill Serebrennikov's opera 'Free Shooter.'

Russian accusations of the West "abolishing Russian culture" are so ridiculous that propagandists sometimes begin to contradict themselves. For example, Sergei Bezrukov claims that tickets to Eugene Onegin in Russian at the Metropolitan Opera are completely sold out. But come on, the Metropolitan Opera is one of the most prestigious and renowned opera houses in the world. If they put "Eugene Onegin" in Russian there, what abolition of Russian culture can we even talk about?

It is impossible not to notice that the word "Russophobia" has now acquired a new meaning. Speaking of "Russophobia," the Russian authorities and pro-Russian philistines mean a ban on war propaganda.

Banning the demonstration of the "St. George Ribbon" (an action invented in 2005 for the 60th anniversary of victory, ribbons are actively used by supporters of the actions of the Russian authorities), the Russian tricolor (under which the war in Ukraine is now waged) or the letters "Z" and "V," which for some unknown reason were turned into symbols of invasion - this is considered the proverbial Russophobia.

“Give us a word! We are entitled to an opinion” proclaim outraged supporters of Putin’s policies, both domestic and foreign. Except, the problem is that this opinion is inextricably linked to support for the war.

By Irina Iakovleva

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