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Russians in the USA: what role do they play and how do we want to celebrate their contribution

The resolution of the New York State Senate, proclaiming April as the Month of Russian History, raised difficult questions of identity, foreign influence, money and politics, and most importantly - made us wonder how we want to celebrate the contribution of Russian speakers in America?

Фото: Depositphotos

Who does not know his past, he is deprived of the future. University of Virginia professor Britney Cooper explores the history of time. She says that time has been stolen from many communities in America and they continue to steal it. This is true for all ethnic, racial, and gender groups whose history has not been recognized as part of American heritage. Including for Russian Americans, the third largest ethnic group in New York.

“To move forward,” says Professor Cooper, “we all must first recognize the past.”

For the recognition of the past in America, the history of the month is widely celebrated: African American, Jewish, Irish, Pacific, female and other groups. 46 ethnic groups hold various events and parades in New York celebrating their contribution to the construction of America.

In March, the Senate and the Assembly of the State of New York declared April for the eighth time as the Month of Russian State Staff History. The text of the decision states: “The history and participation of people with Russian heritage in the American experience will be significantly strengthened and appreciated thanks to the holding of a Russian-American history month in April of New York State in April.” Judging by our unscientific survey of Russian-speaking passers-by in New York, it was not possible to achieve this goal. As in past times, few people noticed this event. According to Google, in English only Tass wrote about the beginning of the month. Local Russian-language media, if they responded to the month, were mostly criticized. Most of the events of Russian culture, indicated by the organizers of the month, did not consider it possible to indicate in their posters and sites that they have something to do with the month.

From the month of exclusion of the majority of Russian Americans?

The New York legislators address their resolution to diplomats of the Russian Federation and hierarchs of Orthodox jurisdictions connected with the Moscow Patriarchate.

“It’s as if the Latin American History Month would have been called exclusively by Puerto Ricans, beating everyone else,” said Bob Andersen, who worked as a professor of history at a prestigious New York college for many years. - Alas, among us, among African Americans, the same thing is happening. Of all the diverse history of black Americans, an identity policy based on the history and experience of urban descendants of migrants from the slave-owning southern states has been arbitrarily knocked down. All other narratives are rejected: the African Americans of the North or the descendants of Louisiana Creoles, who have never been slaves on plantations, and others. ”

Most of the Russian-speaking Americans, obviously, were also excluded by the legislators from the month. Of the more than 3 million Russian-speaking Americans, only about 400 came from Russia. Among them are people of different faiths. Willing it or not, the initiators of the resolution, Democratic Senators for Northern Manhattan counties Luis Sepulveda and Robert Jackson and Assemblyman Carmen Delaroza have expelled most Russian-speaking Americans for eight years in a row. "In their resolution, obviously, there was no place for refugees from the empire and the Soviet regime, religious, ethnic and other groups, primarily Jews and Ukrainians," one of the activists told us.

The resolution of President of the Nobiliary Assembly of America John Pushchin, mentioned there among the few addressees, gives a comic tone to the resolution. Democratic and Republican lawmakers are turning to the nobility, abolished in the United States during the time of Washington. In the questionnaire on obtaining American citizenship, the question of nobility is next to the question of membership in the Communist Party. However, according to the site, the month ended with the Noble Ball, the only one mentioning the month.

At the metro station "Brighton Beach". Photo: Pavel Terekhov

Foreign agents at the Senate and the Assembly?

A group of activists and public figures from New York sent a letter of protest to Governor Andrew Cuomo. They called the month “a bow to the Russian government, the semi-official Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and organizations that are funded and controlled by them in the United States. These resolutions provide them with special recognition and status, as evidenced by the annual visits of your representatives to the Russian consulate to make statements at closed meetings in which only supporters and close figures of the Putin government participate. ”

Indeed, the organizers of the month have repeatedly made statements in support of the controversial actions of the Kremlin. The nobiliary assembly of America is the only Russian-speaking organization that openly supported the annexation of the Crimea.

America is a free country, and citizens, including Russian Americans, of course, can have their own views, which do not necessarily coincide with the position of the government. However, by law, if they represent the interests of another state, then they are required to register. In America, there is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires registration for those who act in the interests of foreign governments, "by order, at the request, under the direction or under the control of a foreign principal" and at the same time engaged in "political activities in the interests of a foreign principal ". Political activity refers to activities aimed at changing the position of the US government or “any part of the population” about US domestic or foreign policy or toward a foreign government or political party. An exception is made for public organizations, "whose activities are ... religious, academic, scientific or artistic in nature."

In April, Russian citizen Maria Butina was convicted of FARA. Earlier, on the same charges, Anna Chapman and nine others were arrested and sent to Russia. The FARA violation was incriminated to former national security adviser General Michael Flynn. Among other things, he was accused of not registering as an agent of Turkey.

This law is applied very selectively. “It's a shame,” a seasoned New York criminal lawyer told me. “The Honored Combat General, the minister in the federal government of the FBI, has set up like some head of the mafia family.” However, Flynn decided that it was better for him to admit guilt and make a deal with the prosecutor's office. And the confession is in the US court the queen of evidence.

Is it worth it to conduct ethnic politics in the old way?

“If Russian Americans 800 000 in New York, then why aren't we allowed to go anywhere? - the consultant of the Democratic Party Anton Konev, a former Senate official, told me. - Only one person in the Congress works in a petty position, one in the City Council also in a petty position, one each in the Assembly and the Senate part-time and for pennies. Russian Americans simply ignored. Recently, even political advertising in the Russian-language media do not place. Instead, stamped on the resolution of the month. Unlike other communities, our organizations do not allocate money to help people. Without mentioning the national and religious diversity of our community, politicians do not even understand that they are used in favor of one organization. ”

The question arises, is it worth it for politicians to continue to try to have “their people” among different communities and to lead a New York policy as they were conducted by 100 years ago? The political climate in New York is changing before our eyes. Alexandria Okazio-Cortez dumped one of the kings of the Democratic Party, Joe Crowley; Contrary to the desire of the all-powerful governor of the state, a coalition of social groups forced to leave the city of Amazon. Grassroots activists turned over all political calculations from both Democrats and Republicans. Obviously, the lower classes no longer want, and the tops can not live as before.

Brighton Beach residents are looking forward to summer. Photo: Pavel Terekhov

“It’s still quite unclear that there is a massive campaign of political influence, this month, God forgive me,” said Alla Roylans, a librarian and long-time curator of popular Russian programs at the Brooklyn Library. “If Russia wants to improve its international image, let’s withdraw troops from Ukraine and Syria to begin with, and then we'll talk.” Why do we need a month when Kandinsky hangs every day in Guggenheim, Balanchine and Tchaikovsky every day in the New York ballet (conditionally), Harriman right now without waiting for any month, Leningrad underground and Brodsky? Russian culture does not need political crutches. ”

We asked for the reaction of Senators Sepúlveda and Jackson and the Legislative Assembly deputy Carmen DeLaroz. All of them belong to the Democratic Party, which has recently made the search for Russian agents one of the main themes of its propaganda.

At the time of publication, we received only confirmation that the request was received.

And the most important question to which we want to appeal to the readers, but how do we want our contributions to American life to be noted? If the readers themselves ask their elected representatives in power, then it can be hoped that the answers will follow faster and to the point.

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