Many of you for sure on the Victory Day went to the action Immortal Regiment with portraits of ancestors-front-line soldiers. This action, as you may be aware of - was born purely out of the people, without a rundown from the authorities and development of budgets. For a couple of years of existence, it has successfully spread all over the world. We were surprised to learn that the "Immortal Regiment" is already in 20 cities in Germany.
Agree, very interesting country for such a campaign. We were very curious to come and personally see how the Immortal Regiment in Germany is going to get acquainted with the participants of the procession - people of different ethnic origin living far from the homeland, but still retaining in one form or another a common Russian cultural identity.
We wanted to talk and learn about the meaning of this action: personal family memory, just an excuse to meet with fellow countrymen or to show each other that "we are"?
Moved by this curiosity, we sent one of our authors to the German city of Hanover. Not to Berlin, because they feared that there would be excessive fuss in the capital, officialdom from the representatives of the Russian embassy and Rossotrudnichestvo, in general, those factors that would not have had a detailed personal communication with the participants of the "regiment". Yes, and Berlin show in the plots of Russian TV channels, and you, we believe, are much more interesting than the exclusive.
As a result, we managed to interview the organizer of the action - Sergei Chernov. Mr. Chernov - by birth a Russian Jew, moved to Germany in 1994 from St. Petersburg. It is already the third year that the "Immortal Regiment" is organizing in Hanover. On the main specialty - business informatics. He is in the party "Alternative for Germany", was a candidate for the Bundestag in the elections in 2017.
We talked after the end of the "Immortal Polk" action, we give the full text of the interview, without your comments and any changes:
Vespa: Sergey, I was interested to know that such events are held in Germany, I personally this year found out that the action is being held in twenty cities ...
Sergey Chernov: Yes, in sixteen or twenty cities. We will complete the press release together with all the coordinators of the Immortal Polk and then we will find out exactly how many cities there are, and secondly, how many officially registered actions were held under the auspices of the Immortal Polk and what was the number of events related or officially not registered.
Vespa: As far as I understand, you have nothing to do with official Russian people, with the embassy, Rossotrudnichestvo?
Sergey Chernov: With Rossotrudnichestvo we are not connected, it was purely our initiative, fellow countrymen who live in Hanover. We organized in 2013 year in the process of moving in support of Lisa from Berlin. At the moment, this is the third share of this kind at 9 May. This is our private initiative, no one paid us a penny.
This time we appealed to the Embassy of the Russian Federation due to the fact that after the last action we had run out of St. George's ribbons, and to buy them here in Germany, at least from what I could find, costs about one euro apiece. For those two hundred or three hundred people that attend this action, it is quite expensive to purchase them, especially against the backdrop of other expenses for organizing the event. Representatives of the embassy in Berlin responded, they contacted me and said that they would support us with St. George's ribbons, this time, then with the symbols of the Russian Federation - they also sent ribbons with flags and here I present to you, as a representative of the press, this wonderful coat of arms, to children I I say that he is golden ... [They laugh] They also gave us these badges, so some support still happened.
Vespa: Thank you! In your opinion, was the purpose of the action, in addition to the personal and family memory of people, the maintenance of identity, Russian or Soviet? That people met, talked to each other, somehow saw themselves, that we are? Such goals are set?
Sergey Chernov: We have a twofold or even threefold goal, as I said, it goes so far as to say that this is even a gesture towards the former Ukrainian SSR and our people who are there. editorial office - it's about the tragic events in Odessa 2 May 2014, see the video below]. Regarding Russian identity, I would say that we have here three main groups of our compatriots: Russian Germans, the majority, the second in number are either Russian / Russian Jews or ordinary Russian people. We do not distinguish and it is even more difficult for us to say how many people there are. For both our regular immigration at the last moment, half of the people came from mixed families. Therefore, to say that there is exactly a Russian identity or a Soviet identity, or a Russian-German identity or a Jewish identity is quite difficult.
For example, some offer to look in the direction of Yad Vashem. Specifically, I collaborated with the Russian embassy, one does not exclude the other, so I definitely would not answer this question, there is a little bit of everything.
Vespa: I see. And from the side of the official German structures there is no irritation about the action or misunderstanding of any?
Sergey Chernov: This is a registered action (police representatives are here all an hour and a half that the action is taking place). When registering, I had to specify such aspects as sound reinforcement, the number of people, whether opposition is expected from any forces, because on political actions here, in Germany and in general in Europe, often meet in general, very often.
I'm telling the example of Hanover, if you take the Immortal Regiment in Berlin, then everything is much more complicated. When organizing the event, I kept in touch, both with the police and with the municipality, I have confirmation from both the police and the city municipality. Route, one, another, third, a lot of things were discussed there, whether balloons will be launched, for example. But there was no opposition, cooperation was on the verge of caution. No one puts the stick into the wheels. Two policemen approached me, asked if I was the organizer, and did not even ask for an identity card. Believed. We have no provocateurs, no rowdy, no drunk people.
Vespa: And were there any cases of provocations from Ukrainians, ultra-leftists or ultra-rightists on the "Immortal Polk" action?
Sergey Chernov: Punks (ultra-left subculture) they are still under drugs are either alcohol and politically weakly biased, weakly targeted. Radical leftist groups, such as "Antifa," still perceive the Russian-German patriots not as political opponents of the first plan. Four years ago on the Immortal Regiment there was a conflict because of Ukrainian symbols, but it was among our compatriots. Then really there was one unpleasant situation, people reacted negatively to Ukrainian symbols.
An example of the fact that I still got stuck in my memory, a woman approached us and told my brother-in-law from Western Ukraine that the office of our elected representatives from the Party of Regions was burned with this Ukrainian flag, our employees of the Crimean Berkut, This flag was burned by the inhabitants of Odessa on 2 May. Therefore, I do not welcome this symbolism at our events, the flag of the Ukrainian SSR - please, but we would not like the Ukrainian one. Well, there are a lot of such conversations in our environment. From the side of the pro-Bandera, there were no shares. All the coordinators in Germany are in touch and we did not get information that there were Banderov's actions.
Vespa: You yourself, as they said, from St. Petersburg, came to 1994 year. Are you Russian or Russian German? How do you identify yourself?
Sergey Chernov: My mother is Jewish. I came in the line of Jewish immigration, where about three hundred thousand people came here, to Germany, and about two million three hundred thousand Russian Germans. This ratio is one to eight. And his father is Russian, respectively, a Leningrader, and I grew up in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). It turns out that I have a dual identity, a kind.
Vespa: And do you personally maintain contact with Russia?
Sergey Chernov: My father lives in St. Petersburg, friends and so on. We support the connection, the children were taken there. Both culture and language are supported, but there have been no contacts with official Russian structures yet.
Vespa: In their mass, people left Russia and the USSR (other post-Soviet countries) for economic reasons? And while there are no trends for return, how much do I see comparing life in Germany and, for example, Russia?
Sergey Chernov: In 1994, I left, having preliminarily for three years left the application for resettlement, for three years the document was processed. And for example, the statement of one of our comrades, a Kazakh German, was processed for eight (!) Years. When you ask Russian Germans purely rhetorically whether they came for economic reasons, they will of course say that they are patriots of Germany and come from Kazakhstan, because there was a situation of hopelessness for representatives of other nationalities (not Kazakhs). Therefore, they dismiss and react irritably.
For example, in 94 I really did not like the situation that was happening in the country, even in Leningrad. We had rampant crime, everything was being plundered. For example, the fishing port where my father worked as a master, he was privatized, plundered and ruined. Economic situation or not? The convoy in which my mother worked as an economist was privatized and disintegrated. I did not like this atmosphere very much. Plus two Chechen wars, we had a very intensive disintegration, ethnic criminality developed. Economic situation or not, but the atmosphere was quite unpleasant.
I can say that partly for political reasons I moved here. We did not die of hunger, because we had a property, a dacha and the like. But Germany, of course, is more developed for economic reasons. Among my acquaintances, many are moving back, Russian Germans, who where. Conversations are about spare airfields: real estate is bought in the Crimea, and in Kaliningrad, and in other cities. This option is not excluded by many. First of all, due to the way the situation is developing in Germany.
Vespa: I see. It was very interesting to talk. I did not even imagine that here such a large number of people can gather. I had the impression that mostly Russian Germans came here from Kazakhstan, from Siberia. But I did not know that there would be Jews and completely ordinary Russians.
Sergey Chernov: Quite ordinary people. And we do not always have the opportunity to find out who is of nationality. Someone talks about this, some do not. Those. a woman can say that she came as a Russian German, but in fact she came as the wife of a Russian German. And she herself can be of any nationality. I personally do not go into such details.
Vespa: But summarizing you can say that you probably would like some kind of support from the embassy? Financial can be? Support from the embassy will be?
Sergey Chernov: Maybe they will help with the banners. Because to make even one banner is not cheap. For one only drinks, gingerbread, candy and the like, well, a hundred euros we spent. If the Russian embassy has channels in which way they can support it, because it's still patriotism, they support it, then we will gladly accept it.
Vespa: I see.
Sergey Chernov: Russian Germans, politically sharpened, do not like to be called "Russian Germans", they resent, as well as economic messages. They are called Russian Germans. The Germans from Russia. Because Russian is a nationality. Although for me, for example, the "Russian Jew" is not insulting, but for them it is insulting, because the situation was as follows: since the postwar period, they were repressed by ethnicity, because they were imprinted on the Third Reich and so on. They were oppressed like Germans. When they came here as people of Russian culture, local people called them Russians. And in this regard, many are sensitive to this.
Vespa: Thank you very much for the interview!