August 20, 2016

43 Russian Patriots



43 Russian Patriots

On the Spine of Russia project, journalists Paul Richardson and Mikhail Mordasov conducted in-depth interviews with over 40 Russians from all across Russia, before shooting their portrait. After that, each one was surprised with the following question: "Do you consider yourself a patriot, and if so, of what and why?"

Their answers were as varied as the individuals themselves and offer a far more textured view of Russian society that most are used to. Here is a sampling of 14 individuals' responses (plus Mordasov's fine portraits). The Spine of Russia photo book has the bilingual responses of all 43, among the over 200 photos of the epic road trip. (To pause the slideshow, just click on any photo. Then hit the right or left advance arrow to begin again.)

Yakov Somov

Yakov Somov

Co-founder and general director of Lektorium MOOC project, St. Petersburg In general, it's rude to ask a person if he is a patriot or not. I am a patriot of public education. But does that mean I am a patriot? I don't know. I work in my country, I work for it. I also work for the whole world. Yes, I am probably a patriot. In my circles, it is not proper to ask someone if they are a patriot or not. You either do good work, or don't do good work. I do good work for my country, including for the place where I studied. I graduated from this school in 2000, and have been working here for seven years. And so I am investing in the children who study here. And I work with the teachers who teach here. You've caught me off guard. You have, probably, a very well-formed question here.
Vladimir Simonov

Vladimir Simonov

Feldsher (primary care physician). Krasniye Stanki village I don't get it, why a patriot? I'm a typical person, doing his work honesty with respect to his people. Whether this is a patriot or not, I cannot say. 
Ksenia Tsukareva

Ksenia Tsukareva

Deputy Director for Marketing and PR, Sochi Hockey Club I can call myself a patriot, because I am committed to my family, my business. I give my full 100 percent not because that is what is needed, but because that is what I want. Because I truly believe that if it comes from within, then it is much stronger than any affixed stamp of citizenship or responsibility. Patriotism is that which comes from within.
Valeria Miloslavskaya

Valeria Miloslavskaya

Tea Sommelier, St. Petersburg I am a patriot of my country. Really, this is a very strange question. Can I have a moment? Because I truly love my country, my relatives, and they live here. And therefore I adore my country. I cannot tear myself away from my relatives, my work, my friends.
Alexandra Turchenkova

Alexandra Turchenkova

Vocal student at the Gnesin Academy of Music, Moscow I am now am studying in the Gnesin Academy, an academy which has a really huge musical tradition. And for a musician, there should be no limits, a musician should create and be capable of expressing herself. And I, of course, am lucky to have been born in Russia, and to know Russian, to be able to interpret Russian music, because I can feel it. I feel that the main patriotism of a musician is to be able to perform Russian music. But, of course, to always seek to widen her horizons and be engaged in music more generally, that is in its broadest sense.
Andrei Pletnev

Andrei Pletnev

Professional yachtsman, boat owner, Novorossiysk Naturally, I can call myself a patriot. A patriot of my country, a patriot of the sport of sailing. And I make every effort so that everything I love lives, grows and prospers.
Valentin Svatovoy

Valentin Svatovoy

Owner of Valentine’s bakery, Petrozavodsk Unequivocally. There’s no need to shy from this. I am a patriot of the land where I live, because I am proud of what was done before me, and I need to do things that those who come after me will be proud of.
Valery Nikolaev and Larisa Ilyinikh

Valery Nikolaev and Larisa Ilyinikh

University professor, Oryol (Valery) I am a patriot of my city and my country. Why? Of course there are many shortcomings and many problems in our country, but I probably don’t know a better country than Russia.  Economist, Oryol (Larisa) I too am a patriot of my city and country. Most likely because I was born here and my famly and all of my life is here, and because I like it here. 
Marina Kozlova

Marina Kozlova

Jurist, single mother, mother of Lev and Marta, Moscow I cannot call myself a patriot. I believe [the author Sergei] Dovlatov said something about uniting people on the basis of nationality or the place where they live – that it is at the very least stupid. People should unite around and be proud of other sorts of things. I am not a patriot.
Nadezhda Alexeyeva

Nadezhda Alexeyeva

Director and artistic director of the Maly Theater, Veliki Novgorod Patriotism is a very personal feeling, just like religion. I don’t want to rank myself among the patrios that yell from every television, in all the mass media, that this is some kind of requirement. Yet recently I have been asking myself this question quite often. It has simply slashed me, because I pose this question to myself and answer that “yes, of course, I am a patriot and reside in that sphere of culture that is my motherland, and a reside among a sphere of people that truly comprises for me my small motherland.” From these small things the whole of everything is created. And my understanding of “motherland,” I repeat, is for me mainly tied to the people and and our culture. Therefore, yes. And in this regard, if I were answering a question about religion, I would also answer unequivocally. Unequivocal in the sense not becasue I don’t belive in God, but because this too is a very personal question. And nevertheless, I answer it, “Yes, of course.” But I don’t want to rank myself among patriots who yell about Russian lands. I want to rank myself among patriots who speak of Russian culture. First and foremost, this is people, our asset, human and rich. Оf course it is our people.
Larisa Safronova

Larisa Safronova

Editor of the newspaper Elektron-TV, Krymsk I can say that I love Russia. But patriot, non-patriot, there are so many definitions of this word, both as a curse and as praise. Therefore I love my motherland and divide it into rulers and people, into what I have loved since childhood: school, parents, the city where I was born and raised, and in which I now live. That is everything that I love. But to be a patriot, does that mean to defend the national interests of one’s country? If they are just, then yes, I will defend it to the last. IF not, then I will also defend it. Perhaps that’s simply how we are built. Mine, ours. That’s all.
Leonid Baluyev

Leonid Baluyev

Blacksmith, Novaya Ladoga I am not a patriot. I am a Jehovah’s Witness. I serve God.
Sergei Troyanovsky

Sergei Troyanovsky

Historian and deputy director of the Kremlin Museum, Veliky Novgorod This is a very difficult question. Because of “Country or Death,” as Fidel Castro said, when he conquered Cuba. To be a patriot does not mean to hate other nations, other peoples. To be a patriot means to love one’s own. I love my country a great deal. I am by birth half Belarusan and half Russian and have many relatives in Ukraine. And I cannot say that I am a patriot of the Russian Federation of today. I love people in general. That is what a patriot is, in my opinion. 
Vadim Markelov

Vadim Markelov

Businessman, producer of barbells and weight machines, Petrozavodsk I am not ready to give some sort of high-falutin answer. Patriotism – what is it? Love for one’s country, we love it; the government, not so much, because we can distinguish between the two. We love the place we live, and all of those who surround us. This is a fact. But what patriotism is, I don’t know... I just don’t know what patriotism is, truly. That is all.

About Us

Russian Life is a 29-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955