Russophobia doesn’t exist but fear and hatred of Putin’s regime do

A Russian propaganda Internet meme says "THE MEDICINE AGAINST RUSSOPHOBIA" 

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Yevgeny Ikhlov, Russian human rights expert and blogger

Yevgeny Ikhlov, Russian human rights expert and blogger

Vladimir Putin and his supporters have made the struggle against what they see as Russophobia a cornerstone of their ideology, Yevgeny Ikhlov says; but if one examines the characteristics they offer for this phenomenon, it is clear that Russophobia as such does not exist. At the same time, fear and hatred of Putin’s regime very much do.

The importance of this ideological theme to the Kremlin has been underscored, the Moscow commentator says, by the fact that immediately after Putin made his remarks about it, the World Russian Popular Assembly insisted that Russophobia included any attacks on the Russian Orthodox Church.

In defining the term, Ikhlov continues, the Russian Popular Assembly advanced five assertions regarding Russophobia, all of which he says are at the very least problematic. It asserts that the Russian people are being “subjected to Russophobia, they are the victims of genocide in Ukraine, they are a victim people, they are a divided people, and they have an identity which is being blurred.

Before considering each of these in turn, the commentator notes that the claim that an attack on the Orthodox Church is an attack on the Russian people is simply wrong. “Orthodoxy is not a church of the Russian people… moreover, it is not an exclusive attribute of ‘the Russian world.’” Asserting otherwise undermines “the very idea of the universality of Orthodoxy.”

The assertion that there is ethnic hatred toward Russians as such in the contemporary world is without foundation, Ikhlov says. The only place where one could speak about this would be in the Baltic countries, “but this is a manifestation of the most ordinary migrantophobia and diasporaphobia, which Russians also display.

Around the world, people recognize Russian culture as “a great world culture,” and Russians “have not encountered even that hostility which for long years surrounded Germans after the First and especially after the Second World War.” Those who assert otherwise do not know what they are talking about.

The fact that there exists “fear and hostility to the Putin government” and that this is spreading and intensifying is quite another matter, Ikhlov says. A century ago, “every literate individual could clearly distinguish between the regime of Nicholas I and the Russian people and Russian intelligentsia.”

Thirty years ago, people found no difficulties in distinguishing between the Russia of Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn and Russian communism. “And now,” Ikhlov says, they have no problem recognizing that the Russia of Boris Nemtsov is something entirely different than the Russia of Vladimir Putin.

Confusing or conflating “fear before the imperial policy of the Kremlin and the authoritarian mentality of the people with hostility toward Russians as an ethnos” is simply foolish nonsense, Ikhlov suggests.

The second plank in the attack on supposed Russophobia is that ethnic Russians are, it is said, being subjected to genocide in Ukraine.” There is no truth to that, and the word genocide should be used with care rather than tossed about whenever one wants to blacken opponents and play the victim.

Russians can claim to be victims, Ikhlov says; but most often and most seriously they have been victims of other Russians rather than of foreigners of one kind or another. But they are not a victim people in the sense that the Jews and Palestinians, Armenians and Tutsis are, and they should not claim otherwise.

Nor is it correct to label the Russians “a divided people,” as many of those now talking about Russophobia do. It is true that the collapse of the USSR in 1991 left many ethnic Russians beyond the borders of the Russian Federation, but “over the last quarter century much has changed” and the Russians in these countries are now “classical examples of a diaspora.”


Finally, Ikhlov argues, there is no evidence that Russian national identity is being blurred. “On the contrary, Russians very clearly set themselves apart from other ethnoses of the empire, having unwritten but in no way less obligatory criteria of what is required from a non-Russian to be recognized as a Russian,” even if various groups of Russians often fight about that.

Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar art poirot says:

    Anti-Russian sentiment or Russophobia is a diverse spectrum of negative feelings, dislikes, fears, aversion, derision and/or prejudice of Russia, Russians and/or Russian culture.[1]

    A wide variety of mass culture clichés about Russia and Russians exists. Many of these stereotypes were developed during the Cold War,[2][3] and were used as elements of political war against the Soviet Union. Some of these prejudices are still observed in the discussions of the relations with Russia.[4] Negative representation of Russia and Russians in modern popular culture is also often described as functional, as stereotypes about Russia may be used for framing reality, like creating an image of an enemy, or an excuse, or an explanation for compensatory reasons.[5][6][7][8] Decades after the end of the Cold War, Russians are still portrayed as “Hollywood’s go-to villains”.[9]

    1. Avatar JerseyJeff78 says:

      Sounds more like Russia trying to make excuses for international displeasure with Russia’s recent aggressive actions in Europe to me.

      1. Avatar art poirot says:

        And what about before Ukraine? Whats your excuse for that?

        1. Avatar JerseyJeff78 says:

          Before Ukraine, Russia enjoyed much more favorable views around the world and only a minority of populations through out the developed world viewed Russia as a threat to global security and stability. That includes the US, Canada and the UK where traditionally Russia was viewed as a threat more than other nations.

          1. Avatar art poirot says:

            True, but that doesn’t answer my question. You claim that Russophobia is just an excuse for Russian actions, correct? If so, I wonder what you have to say about Russophobia before 2013. Is it a conspiracy and doesn’t/didn’t exist?
            Do you say the same thing too Black people? Is racism against them an excuse because they commit crimes? Or are some ethnicities more deserving of respect then others to you?

          2. Avatar JerseyJeff78 says:

            I just did in regards to developed nations.

            In regards to developing nations of Eastern Europe, it has everything to do with 50 years of subjugation and then not ever making any concessions or reparations for the decades of Russian occupation and subjugation.

            Russia before Putin began turning Russia into a dictatorship after the 2011 elections and scandals, was regarded positively around the world.

          3. Avatar Melp says:

            it was obviously allready many years earlier, when a former kgb officer took the lead again.

          4. Avatar art poirot says:

            Those same nations have subjebated and faught against eachother for even longer amounts of time. So what? Does every ethnicity who has fought or occupied anyone at any time in history deserve racism? If so, then just about every ethnicity or nationality deserves bad treatment, according to your logic. And what is the cut of date for justification of racism due to historic events? Who gets to decide this? So how moronic this gets?
            I think you are just trying to justify racism and xenophobia against Russians because some Ukrainians who you support happen to practice Russophobia. So instead of distancing yourself from or having any independent opinion on this, you back yourself into a corner and break out history books to attempt to justify racism.
            So Russia is a dictatorship! And you are against dictatorship? Or just against Russia, no matter what it may be? Funny how when Russia was weak in the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was ‘friendly’. Then when it began to prosper, it became a threat.

          5. Avatar Melp says:

            even if ukraine practisize russophobia. it is a foreign country for russia. with a border to russia. a border which russia has to acknowlegde. or are you running through every door which is closed?

          6. Avatar The truth says:

            One would think, that a country which had so many deads to fight against the hitler fascism would know even after 70 years.
            No, the same mistakes again ! are they different or simply have no memory att all ?

          7. Avatar Melp says:

            the first one. every country interprets history different. and in east europe real history was often traded under the counter.

          8. Avatar art poirot says:

            1. Kind of. Except when you give people the opportunity to act on these views and commit mass violence, you can expect trouble. If you live in my house, and I attack you. Does this make it okay, just because you were attacked in someone else’s house?? If Canadians decided to or said they were going to attack Americans, I would understand and even approve when US forces came to prevent such a thing.
            2. If you want to call out the USSR on its faults and crimes, that’s one thing, as long as your accurate. But when you start minimizing its accomplishments or things it did right, then, you are being dishonest and immature just because you have bias.

          9. Avatar The truth says:

            Over the past 20 years, attempts have been made to understand through experimentation a phenomenon known as “cryptomnesia,” whereby you arrive at an apparently original idea that you later turn out to have heard from someone else or to have read somewhere. It can occasionally be the cause of what has perhaps rather generously been called “unconscious plagiarism.” In the laboratory, cryptomnesia can be replicated through subtle manipulation of the processes of forgetting. The trick is to mix just enough forgetting with remembering at just the right moment, such that the memory concerned does not disappear but is no longer recognized as memory.

          10. Avatar art poirot says:

            Expect everyone who has ever arrived at an idea has been influence from a person or multiple people. So your cryptomnesia is applied to everyone.

    2. Avatar Michaelinlondon1234 says:

      Completely agree. I seriously think Russia needs to close all its borders to English speakers.It is like the poison whispers campaigns.

      1. Avatar art poirot says:

        Disagree there completely. Self Isolation is never the answer, especially when in the right. Investment in information distribution and military upkeep I think is the way to go.

  2. Avatar JerseyJeff78 says:

    The Russian’s make all types of excuses for their bad behavior but the one thing that is almost always common among all the excuses is that it is never Russia’s fault.

    If Russian’s are sensitive to their image internationally, try acting like a civilized and peaceful nation for a change. Get out of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine and stop threatening your neighbors and you will see Russia’s image improve worldwide while continuing to act like a modern fascist nation will only hurt Russia’s image internationally even more.

  3. Avatar Michaelinlondon1234 says:

    As Yevgeny Ikhlov points out Russia needs to kill every American in the country.

    1. Avatar JerseyJeff78 says:

      That will help Russia’s image…. LMAO!

  4. Avatar Terry Washington says:

    Would we call antipathy to the Third Reich “Germanophobia/Teutonophobia”? Personally I have witnessed relatively little “Russophobia” in my own country but plenty of “Putinophobia”!