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geneven
27-10-2003, 13:20
I just got off the Metro. There were "One Russia -- Strong Russia" campaign signs, and graffiti added in "Without Jews."

And there was antisemitic graffiti all over the car, in fact.

That is one thing that would be pretty rare in the US.

A Russian (well, I think he's Russian) friend once commented to me. "That's the difference between how it is in the US and here. In Russia, I can never become a Russian. I am a Jew. In the US, everyone becomes an American."

That seems to be true. When the subject of antisemitism comes up, I often sense a sort of snickering attitude from my Russian friends, like it's funny. Maybe they are embarrassed. I hope so.

Remember the last scene in Cabaret, when the camera pans through the crowd and Nazi swastikas are becoming more and more common?

It reminds me of that here, sometimes. That makes me sick, just as the ultra rare-slurs on Blacks in the US make me sick. It seems worse here, to me.

Let's see, a couple of personal details: 1) I think that the Palestinians deserve a country, and that the US should be resisting Israel more than it is. 2) I'm not Jewish, though a friend once named me an "honorary Jew," a title that I'm proud of.

Those details don't really have anything to do with the subject of antisemitism, though...

bad manners
27-10-2003, 15:05
Originally posted by geneven
That's the difference between how it is in the US and here. In Russia, I can never become a Russian. I am a Jew. In the US, everyone becomes an American.

"In the US, an African American can never become a White/Caucasian American." In Russia ("Rossia" in Russian, note the 'o') everyone becomes a "Rossian" (note the 'o'), as soon the as the Russian citizenship is acquired (no different than in the US). "Russian", in the Russian language, means _only_ a particular ethnic group, and it has no political or social implications per se. Update your language and stop applying double-standards. The ethnic Russians comprise the majority of the poor in Russia (c.f. "white thrash"); the ethnic Jews comprise the majority of the rich in Russia (make comparisons here yourself). You may also compare the living standards of the poor and of the rich in Russia and then compare them to those in the US. A small exercise in psychology, if you will.

bibliofil
27-10-2003, 15:42
There is a difference in undersrtanding "nationality" in Russian and in algo-saxon cultures. Am sure you are well aware of it.

bad manners
27-10-2003, 15:55
Originally posted by bibliofil
There is a difference in undersrtanding "nationality" in Russian and in algo-saxon cultures. Am sure you are well aware of it.

Precisely. The English word "nationality" is "citizenship" in Russian; the Russian word "nationality" is "ethnicity" in English. The same applies to the German-speaking courtiers as well, notably Austria, many Austrians _proudly_ say their "nationality" is Hungarian. A lot of Czechs from the Sudetenland declare German "nationality". And so on. Why is it so complex to grasp?

geneven
27-10-2003, 15:57
I'm white trash myself, but I still don't understand your comments about rich/poor, psychology, etc.

Let's say that I do some research and discover that a majority of the Russian rich (using my own definition of rich and not telling you what that definition is, the better to twist statistics with!) are left-handed. Would that justify my putting up graffiti saying "One Russia, Strong Russia, Without the Left-Handed"?

As Russia itself has shown, abolishing the rich doesn't necessarily cause more deserving people to become rich. It can make the whole society poor instead.

And with these interesting distinctions between "Russians" and Rossians", are you saying that the graffiti-scrawler wasn't being rather proto-Nazi?

bad manners
27-10-2003, 16:34
Originally posted by geneven
I'm white trash myself

Oh, there is now internet connectivity under the bridge. How very interesting. Just for the record, the poor Russians [see the definition below] do not surf the Internet. They hardly have personal computers. Why do you think the biggest FIDO community in the world is in Russia? Do you even know what FIDO is?


but I still don't understand your comments about rich/poor, psychology, etc.

Let's say that I do some research and discover that a majority of the Russian rich (using my own definition of rich and not telling you what that definition is, the better to twist statistics with!) are left-handed. Would that justify my putting up graffiti saying "One Russia, Strong Russia, Without the Left-Handed"?

I would not. The "poor" Russians, perhaps. As for the definitions: anybody earning less than $100-$200 monthly in Russia can safely be considered poor. Anybody buying a house in Soho (with or without a football club) can be considered rich. Mediterranean would qualify as well.


As Russia itself has shown, abolishing the rich doesn't necessarily cause more deserving people to become rich. It can make the whole society poor instead.

The majority of the Russians would disagree. Compared to their state now, they were way richer 15 years ago. Actually, I do not remember any particular law in the USSR that would say "thou shalt not be rich". I agree it was practically impossible to become rich legally, but that's a different story. The same story as they have, say, in Sweden.


And with these interesting distinctions between "Russians" and Rossians", are you saying that the graffiti-scrawler wasn't being rather proto-Nazi?

He was. But your Jewish friend was distorting the truth just the same. That's why I mentioned double-standards.

DaveUK1965
27-10-2003, 20:06
Anti-semitism exists everywhere in the world. Just because something is more visible in one country doesn`t mean to say that it doesn`t exist in others........ underground, out of sight, or in much more subtle ways.

uninformed
27-10-2003, 21:02
Originally posted by bad manners
Precisely. The English word "nationality" is "citizenship" in Russian; the Russian word "nationality" is "ethnicity" in English. The same applies to the German-speaking courtiers as well, notably Austria, many Austrians _proudly_ say their "nationality" is Hungarian. A lot of Czechs from the Sudetenland declare German "nationality". And so on. Why is it so complex to grasp?

Folks....it is clear that badmanners is fond of, first, denying that racism and anti-semitism exists. Then, he/she proceeds to say that if it exists then it is justified. There is no point in arguing with badmanners. He/she is a perfect example of the Russian mentality in this.

First, "they" want to be identified in their passports with this label (Tartar, Jew, etc). Then, they aren't at all discriminated again. Finally, even if they are disliked/hated it is because they deserve it.

Sigh!

bad manners
28-10-2003, 00:26
Originally posted by uninformed Folks....it is clear that badmanners is fond of, first, denying that racism and anti-semitism exists.

You are full of shit. I was saying that whatever happens in Russia in this regard is not different from the rest of the world. Racism and anti-semitism do exist, and do so everywhere, I have no problem admitting that. I have a problem with the likes of yourself, who ascribe that to a particular nation, and who do not even have enough brain to realize that it is a perfect example of racism/chauvinism in itself.


Then, he/she proceeds to say that if it exists then it is justified

Care to quote me on that?


There is no point in arguing with badmanners. He/she is a perfect example of the Russian mentality in this.

And I'm not even Russian. I guess being Russian is a disease that is transferable, correct, my uninformed friend? Yet another reason to hate the Russians, right?


First, "they" want to be identified in their passports with this label (Tartar, Jew, etc).

I mentioned only the Tatars. Some Jews seem to like that too, though, or they would not immigrate to Israel.


Then, they aren't at all discriminated again.

I would like to see an example of such discrimination. So far you have not been able to come up with any. In _modern_ Russia, mind you.


Finally, even if they are disliked/hated it is because they deserve it.

As I've never said anything like that, apparently you just say what you think here. Hardly surprising. I guess "the Russians are coming" is frequent in your nightmares.

uninformed
28-10-2003, 07:54
Originally posted by bad manners

And I'm not even Russian. I guess being Russian is a disease that is transferable, correct, my uninformed friend? Yet another reason to hate the Russians, right?

Hardly surprising. I guess "the Russians are coming" is frequent in your nightmares.

If it is a disease then I guess you have it. I have no particular grudge against Russians though the driving habits and the strong strain of racism are both rather objectionable. It is possible to find objectionable habits in any culture, certainly. I rather suspect that Russians have more feelings of dislike about Americans than the other way around. Most Americans do not spend much time or energy thinking about Russians.

Any suggestion about "The Russians are coming" as a nightmare is laughable. What's to fear? The military is a joke (unless you are unfortunate enought to be in it), the economy is owned by a dozen men, there is no freedom of speech (to quote Mr. Putin himself), and Russians have to get permission from their own government in order to leave the country (not to mention the difficultly in obtaining a US/UK visa.) etc etc. Not much to envy or fear, sorry to say.

RusNed
28-10-2003, 12:40
Originally posted by uninformed
, and Russians have to get permission from their own government in order to leave the country (not to mention the difficultly in obtaining a US/UK visa.)

I didn't really get this bit of information. Why would Russians need a permission of the government to leave the coutry? Probably, you are indeed uninformed, or your information is outdated.

As for UK/US visa problems...well, it's a shame that visa requirements are not yet abolished. There are so much more other ways to control people entering EU/US (even Prodi spoke recently about that) etc. Anyway, almost everyone gets the visas nowadays, it is just a matter of time and stupid burocracy, but what a terrible feeling of lacking freedom to go wherever you want for a week-end should that be...shame that some nations are denied their certain freedoms by other nations...

Graffiti
28-10-2003, 13:10
Originally posted by geneven


A Russian (well, I think he's Russian) friend once commented to me. "That's the difference between how it is in the US and here. In Russia, I can never become a Russian. I am a Jew. In the US, everyone becomes an American."

...

My apologies for the cliche, but in the US, that Jew will become Russian. :p

bad manners
28-10-2003, 14:16
Originally posted by RusNed
I didn't really get this bit of information. Why would Russians need a permission of the government to leave the coutry? Probably, you are indeed uninformed, or your information is outdated.

Because uninformed is really full of shit. He/she has made a few statements and when asked to support them with some evidence, he/she just makes more unsupported statements. He/she is the worst kind of a ravingly arrogant xenophobe, whose ignorance about the country when he/she happens to live in is astonishing. Brainwashed so badly that no traces of reason can be found. I would not be surprised if he/she happened to be a US State Department employee, he/she certainly possesses all the qualities.

Jolly Joker
28-10-2003, 15:47
Originally posted by geneven
1) I think that the Palestinians deserve a country, and that the US should be resisting Israel more than it is. 2) I'm not Jewish, though a friend once named me an "honorary Jew," a title that I'm proud of.

1) Jesus Christ! What propaganda makes to people! The US not only resist Israel, but American Zionists are actively supporting Israel like they would never support America. Open your eyes. Israel is nothing at all without vast military investments coming exclusively from the States.

2) No comments.

geneven
29-10-2003, 19:31
Jolly Joker:

Your comment seemed pretty much incoherent to me.

Others:

It makes a big different whether antisemitism is concealed or not. People don't generally recognize it, but being a hypocrite is a step up morally from not trying to conceal your feelings.

Consider group dynamics. If a bunch of people are standing around hypocritically concealing their feelings, it would be really difficult to get a lynch mob going. But a few loud talkers can build up a mob in no time.

Speaking of mobs, some of my Russian friends were on the Metro a few days ago when supporters of one "football" team started beating up someone wearing the wrong colors. Not a good sign, though things like that happen everywehre, sure, but that is not a reason not to worry. The reason they gave "He should have stayed out of our car!"

I worked with lots of Russians in Manhattan. To me, they were just Americans with funny accents. Hey, America is the land of Arnold S. and Arriana Huffington!

DaveUK1965
29-10-2003, 20:12
"the US should be resisting Israel more than it is"

Antisemitism set to one side, and no, I`m not an antisemite or racist, Geneven, why do you think a group of Arab terrorists flew two passenger jets into the World Trade Center not so very long ago ?

JJ is RIGHT. America`s unquestioning support of Israel - no matter what it does - has lead to feelings of total outrage in the Arab world.

Regarding overt or discrete antisemitism - over here in the good old tolerant UK, we are quite famous for rounding up the Jewish population of York in the 1500`s, putting them in a tower and burning them to death - the Jews were the only people allowed to lend money, and that was a great way for city merchants to avoid paying the loans back. Two miles from here is a huge Jewish area - the point is that concealed antisemitism produces a ghetto. It may be full of very nice houses, but it`s a ghetto nonetheless. "covert antisemitism" - occurs everywhere.

A lynch mob is the easiest thing in the world to get going, as you say - concealed racism or not . I agree with you there, but I don`t think that whether or not racism is concealed or not has anything to do with people being reticent to get the rope out.

And America may be the land of Arnold S and Arriana Huffington, but it`s also the land of the KKK, bus protests, the NAACP and 100+ years of - as you say - lynch mobs. I`d be very surprised to find that there are more white supremacist lunatics in Russia than in America....

As for football, ahhhhhh - that`s "soccer" for you, Geneven. ;-))

uninformed
29-10-2003, 21:48
Originally posted by bad manners
Because uninformed is really full of shit. He/she has made a few statements and when asked to support them with some evidence, he/she just makes more unsupported statements. He/she is the worst kind of a ravingly arrogant xenophobe, whose ignorance about the country when he/she happens to live in is astonishing. Brainwashed so badly that no traces of reason can be found. I would not be surprised if he/she happened to be a US State Department employee, he/she certainly possesses all the qualities.

If you don't think that racism is worse here than many other countries then I'm not the one here that is "brainwashed."

Ask almost any Filipino or African here if they live in fear of the militsia, skinheads, etc etc. You can hardly go a week without some person of color - Georgian, African, etc - report an assault that seems race related.

bad manners
29-10-2003, 22:28
Originally posted by uninformed
If you don't think that racism is worse here than many other countries then I'm not the one here that is "brainwashed."

Ask almost any Filipino or African here if they live in fear of the militsia, skinheads, etc etc. You can hardly go a week without some person of color - Georgian, African, etc - report an assault that seems race related.

Go to Germany and ask any Turk if they live in fear of the Polizei, neo-nazis, etc, etc. If they ever had a swastika painted on their door.

It is pointless to ask the Blacks living in Harlem whether they're afraid of the police and "the vigilance committee" members, both stopped poking around there long ago. Instead it should be instructive to try and go there on your own, if you're white, and then check your integrity when you exit, if you ever do.

Dave is right, concealed racism creates ghettos just the same, and I do not know ghettos bigger than those in the NYC. Paris may come close, though.

DaveUK1965
29-10-2003, 22:42
Having been the only "auslander" - foreigner - in a small German town of 28,000 people, I can only agree with Bad Manners and say that I know - first hand - what racism is and feels like.

In my case, it was all covert - "We just don`t like you, you`re not one of us" - but I had a lot of Polish and Turkish friends out there who were very actively discriminated against.

A freind of mine - Katerina, a tiny Polish girl - was battered half unconscious in Lunen by some fine upstanding Germans. She`s 160cm tall. She crawled over to a doorway, knocked on it, and it was opened by another fine upstanding German lady who said "Ahhh, it`s only a shitty Pole."

Uninformed, in 1860, John Brown essentially started the fires which lit a war in the US - one of the aims of which was "emancipation of the slaves." In 1960, a century on, small black schoolchildren had to be bussed to school with the National Guard accompanying them. In 1967, Civil Rights leaders were being shot by white supremacists. In the 1970`s, there were whole race riots in the US, and we had `em here in the UK only a few years back, so we have nothing to talk about either.

If you think racism in Russia is worse than anywhere else, sorry. That`s just not true. As for the rights of Filipinas everywhere, look at the Gulf states where they`re effectively slave labour...... caste system in India, class system (still here) in the UK... whole of Central Europe hates it`s neighbours for no apparent logical reason except for ancient wars or hatreds - go to the bloody Balkans - I have a friend there doing charity work ...... Northern Ireland and sectarianism - Israel and Palestine..... that`s racism red in tooth and claw.

stefania2003
29-10-2003, 23:48
Well, I have to agree with Dave here:) My parents were Russian Jews on one side and German Jews on the other and I was born in the UK (in Manchester -Dave probably knows exactly where I come from!) and lived in Israel where believe me, I had more anti-Russian hassle than I've had here as a Jew. Of course I've experienced anti-semetism from time to time and we all do and it's not pleasant but it's a fact of life and Dave rightly points out that there are quite a few countries worse than this where racism is inbred and, in my opinion, chronic rather than acute:)
I've had anti-semitism from every Russian boyfriend's parents and so am accustomed to it. They obviously dont' know any better so one has to be sorry for them. You might as well expect a dog to start talking as the majority of folk here to have a different mentality.
Those who started this thread and moan about Russians - WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? No-one is forcing you to live here, are they? We are all here on visas and therefore guests in the country and to be honest if you don't like it then go home. Yes, yes, I know that on this forum one is free to criticise the host country but it begs the question of why you are here at all.
I'd rather spend my energy bitching (which I do!) about the pigs in cars here in Moscow than the inbuilt prejudices of the population.

geneven
29-10-2003, 23:51
I of course didn't say anything about racism here being worse than anywhere else.

I also didn't try to sneak back to the Middle Ages or even WWII for examples.

As for Israel, I barely stated my opinion at all, yet the response is as if I said I was pro Israel, even though I stated my support for a homeland for the Palestinians right in my first message.

In the situation as it is right now, I think that Israel should either a) give back its land back to the 1967 borders -- that is what the UN rule is, no terriritory is to be gained by conquest, regardless of whether the war was justified or not -- or, failing that, either b) give the vote to all the Palestinians within its new borders, or c) stop pretending to be a Democracy, when it is controlling large amounts of territory with a population that isn't permitted to vote on the composition of its government, which is effectively Israel.

As far as racism goes here, my personal guess is that if someone was beating up a member of a minority group here and was caught by the police, the odds are about 50-50 that he would simply be let go. That's not true in most countries in the world, I think. Of course, I might be wrong about that, but it is my impression.

DaveUK1965
29-10-2003, 23:55
"was born in the UK (in Manchester -Dave probably knows exactly where I come from!)"

Two miles from where I`m sitting at the moment, Stef. ;-) Just go down Manchester Old Road - right onto Victoria Avenue - left onto Manchester New Road - half way down to Middleton - left turn. ;-)) And there I nearly am. ;-))))))))))

Hello, neighbour ! ;-)))))

Dave -x- ;-))))))) -x-

2nd
30-10-2003, 01:11
A bit late in the debate, I thought that all oligarchs, former and existing, are Jews except for one who is Georgian. I also thought that the Russian media is owned or controlled by Jews except for some recent changes.

I also thought that Wall Street, Hollywood, Washington DC and the legal profession are dominated by Jews as is the City of London.

Etc., etc., etc. in all countries I know, actually quite a few.

My conclusion from what I have seen is that there is oppression and discrimination in relation to Jews, but the direction is the opposite. As a remarkably frank muslim stated a week or so ago, "the Jews rule the World by proxy".

It seems to be a remarkably strong little club. Don't touch, then it is anti-semitism, and what can be a worse, in media?

Did I really get it all wrong?

bad manners
30-10-2003, 01:20
Originally posted by 2nd
It seems to be a remarkably strong little club. Don't touch, then it is anti-semitism, and what can be a worse, in media?


Now watch them calling you antisemite just for this question.

DaveUK1965
30-10-2003, 01:54
Over here, not quite the case - the system is run by "big business" - a lot of it is class related (some chinless wonder whose ancestor held a flag for a king 400 years ago) or - really run from America. ;-)))))

Now I`ll get called a "communist". ;-))))))

andylip
30-10-2003, 02:15
As a remarkably frank muslim stated a week or so ago, "the Jews rule the World by proxy".

Yeah, the world is run by 7 Jews from an underground bunker in Zurich. They control the CIA, the FSB, Interpol, the Union of Benevolent Shriners, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Most people don't realize the full extent of the insidious effect Jews have had on history, especially the 20th Century. For instance, it's a little-known fact that the Jews started World War I. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a Jew, was assasinated by a Jew, thus triggering an intricate and bloody chain of events that culminated in a failed attept by Woodrow Wilson, a Jew, to form the League of Nations, a Zionist-fronted organization bent on world dominion, usury, and garlic bagels.

Not 20 years later, the Jews did it again. The Jewish infiltration of the Nazi party, culimating in Hitler's rise to power in the early 1930s, is well documented. For instance, Goebbels was actually a self-loathing Jew whose attempted extermination of the Jewish population was nothing more than a cry for love for his mother, who had abandoned him as a young goose-stepper in order to shack up with an itinerant rabbi/schnitzel salesman. At least that's the explanation set forth by Freud, himself a Jew.

More recent insidious phenomena prove the same point. Disco? Started by Jews and perpetuated by Jews. Donna Summer is actually a black Jewess, as is Gloria Gaynor. ABBA? Swedish Jews. The Commodores? Lionel Richie's real name is "Lionel Rabinowitz." Michael Jackson used to be a Jew, but decided he'd rather be a bleached cracker instead. But do you know who performed his plastic surgery? That's right: a Jew!

Indeed, if Osama bin Laden is ever captured, look down his pants.

Circumcized. It figures.

geneven
30-10-2003, 03:16
Actually, there is an even deeper and more insidious pattern than judging people by their ethnic background.

Who rules the world? The people with the most power!

Even in the parts of the world where there ARE no Jews, this pattern holds true.

I happen to know lots of Jews, by the way, who DON'T rule the world. Maybe your environment makes you angry, so you need a target. I wouldn't pick on Jews, if I were you. There are too many exceptions to your rules about them.

However, my rule, that the powerful run things, always holds true. Focus your complaints, if you have complaints, on them.

polly
30-10-2003, 04:38
Originally posted by bad manners
Precisely. The English word "nationality" is "citizenship" in Russian; the Russian word "nationality" is "ethnicity" in English. The same applies to the German-speaking courtiers as well, notably Austria, many Austrians _proudly_ say their "nationality" is Hungarian. A lot of Czechs from the Sudetenland declare German "nationality". And so on. Why is it so complex to grasp?

i'm going to be nitpicky without getting into the actual theme of this thread. i'm not really disagreeing with you, i just am on a lone, futile struggle against people suddenly thinking it would be ok to say "my ethnicity is USA" in Russian. or in ENglish for that matter.

The English word nationality is национальность in Russian.
The English word citizenship is гражданство in Russian.
Ethnicity is этническая принадлежность.

The subtle difference is not in the words themselves; it is how they are used (incorrectly, I might add).
"Jewish" is a particularly difficult case, as it can mean either ethnicity or religious faith or both.

DaveUK1965
30-10-2003, 05:02
Hehee ! Thank you Polly.

A lot of this IS semantics and concepts.

stefania2003
30-10-2003, 10:10
Yes, Polly is right:) And this has always been the thorny question with us; is being a Jew defined by one's religion or ethnicity? Because I'm not even supposed to be on the bloomin' Internet (big probs with eyesight) I'll not go down that long winding road but just want to wave back to my (ex) neighbour Dave:)))))

bad manners
30-10-2003, 15:19
Originally posted by polly
i'm going to be nitpicky without getting into the actual theme of this thread. i'm not really disagreeing with you, i just am on a lone, futile struggle against people suddenly thinking it would be ok to say "my ethnicity is USA" in Russian. or in ENglish for that matter.

The English word nationality is национальность in Russian.
The English word citizenship is гражданство in Russian.
Ethnicity is этническая принадлежность.

The subtle difference is not in the words themselves; it is how they are used (incorrectly, I might add).
"Jewish" is a particularly difficult case, as it can mean either ethnicity or religious faith or both.

If you translate them word-for-word, you're certainly correct. But when you look at the usage, you'll see that in the Russian usage they are different than in the English usage. I agree that they are used incorrectly in Russia. That said, if you want to use these words in a sensible way in Russia, you'll have to substitute the terms as I wrote above.

ronymo
03-11-2003, 23:07
Just a quick note concerning the use of nationality in russian passports: i believe - i may be wrong - that the communists initiated this for reasons of their own (easy to guess at) and people tended to report themselves as whichever nationality they could grab onto which might have been useful to them at the time. i know there are quite a few jews, tatars and other nationalities out there according to their russian passports, who would not be deemed so by the majority of those particular nations. (sorry, is this at all coherent?)

ronymo
03-11-2003, 23:11
A Russian (well, I think he's Russian) friend once commented to me. "That's the difference between how it is in the US and here. In Russia, I can never become a Russian. I am a Jew. In the US, everyone becomes an American."


does everybody actually agree with this?! because i have not found that in the us everyone becomes an american (citizenship issues aside).
btw how about that poll - 59% of the eu think israel is the greatest threat to world peace! - kind of a big burden on the shoulders of such a small place, huh?

geneven
03-11-2003, 23:36
What groups never become Americans?

bad manners
04-11-2003, 02:41
Originally posted by ronymo
Just a quick note concerning the use of nationality in russian passports: i believe - i may be wrong - that the communists initiated this for reasons of their own (easy to guess at) and people tended to report themselves as whichever nationality they could grab onto which might have been useful to them at the time. i know there are quite a few jews, tatars and other nationalities out there according to their russian passports, who would not be deemed so by the majority of those particular nations. (sorry, is this at all coherent?)

The commies did not start that. That just continued the tradition established by the Tsars. Until 1917, anybody not Russian orthodox would be called alien (инородец), despite being a Russian subject. On the other hand, any such subject could become a "Russian" by baptizing. Even a Jew. But I hear such Jews were hated both by the "normal" Jews and the "normal" Russians alike.

toka1111
04-11-2003, 11:24
Originally posted by ronymo
... and people tended to report themselves as whichever nationality they could grab onto which might have been useful to them at the time.

Not exactly... When back at the USSR times a 16 year old was getting his first passport issued, he could choose what nationality he wants in the passport only if his parents had different nationalities in their passports (eg. Dad was a Russian, Mom was a Jew... then the kid could choose if he wants to be officially Russian or Jewish). If both parents were say Russians - or Jews, the kid had no choice :D