Unfortunately, Russia's image looks very ambiguous for the West. The following is certainly not the most important, but the statements of our former compatriots abroad affect the country's image in a significant way. The mood prevailing today in the Russian community abroad will be the topic of our conversation with the editor of the economic section of the information agency "AFP", President of the Association "France-Ural", program coordinator of "Rusofony” and “RusiCO”, a member of the Public Council under the “Public diplomacy” Fund for Development of Civil Society Institutions,- Dimitry de Koshko.
— Dmitry, you are the initiator of signing a petition to the European Union on the recognition of the Russian language an official language of the EU. What is this action, and what preferences can be derived therefrom for Russians abroad?
— To date we have made only the first step — we conducted a test-signing of this petition in France. For twenty days we have collected 1500 signatures. On the whole we need to get 54 000 signatures from France in one year. And if we want the EU leaders to take into account our petition, we will need one million signatures of EU citizens.
We decided to take a chance. Since in the EU, according to our data, there are about seven million rusofones (in this way we call those who speak Russian, they can be people of different nationalities), theoretically it is quite possible to collect a million signatures. However, it is very difficult to do. If we succeed and the European Union will recognize the Russian language as one of its official languages, then these seven million people will have the opportunity to use the Russian language at the level of business communicaton and the official level.
— The desire to speak their native language, as a rule, is inherent to those who seek to keep in touch with their homeland. But unfortunately many of our former compatriots speak about their motherland negatively. How often do you face such sentiments in the Russian community of Paris?
— No, these views can be found only among those who left Russia now, or among the representatives of the so-called third wave of emigration. And I am, for example, a descendant of immigrants of the first wave. Although, in my opinion, it would be also wrong to call this wave the "first". Our compatriots began to settle in Europe a long time before the revolution.
I myself - a descendant of the "white" emigration (after 1917). Before the revolution my great-grandfather was the governor of Perm. Among the descendants of this wave of emigration it is accepted to treat towards Russia with great respect and affection. Although I am a representative of the third living in France generation of the family, I speak Russian fluently, as you can see. I must say that representatives of our community are annoyed by injustice to Russia, adopted by some foreign media. We never considered it necessary to criticize homeland. Of course, our grandparents were opponents of Soviet power, but they have always loved the country itself and did not too eager to deny it. They understood that berating their homeland they would eventually throw mud at themselves. Due to such criticism of the country the Europeans would despise all its residents, including those immigrants. That means, in particular, that our professional competence would be less respected. I should note that such a friendly attitude to Russia is also inherent to the second wave of emigration which occurred during the Second World War.
— How are the contacts between the different waves of immigration in France?
— The relationship between those who came with the first and the second waves, and the representatives of the third wave (beginning with 1970), unfortunately, is not very well. There was a time when we very friendly met the third wave of immigrants. Then we saw that besides the real dissidents there are very different people among them. A significant part of the third wave of immigrants for some reasons decided that the French would treat them better if they actively started to criticize the Soviet Union. In my opinion, this is not the smartest approach.
Now there is a new generation of people coming from Russia. But it can not be compared with the three previous ones, because now you can normally go to the homeland and back. Unfortunately, this generation of Russian abroad also tend to criticize Russia, as they erroneously believe it will cause friendly attitude on the part of the French.
Do not get me wrong, I do not deny their right to criticism and political views. I'm just saying that the level of negativity against the country, which is normal among Russian, is not always suitable when communicating with foreigners. Eventually it turns against us, people living abroad and protecting the image of our historical homeland to the best of we can.