Compatriots program, Russian style (2)
Is this description by the Kremlin deceptive? Many who have taken a closer look at it insist that it’s a crude attempt to set up Moscow-managed cover organizations to promote Russian foreign policy goals. Simply put – to lobby Western governments in the guise of genuine grass-roots groups representing ethnic Russians living in the West.
One certainly would not get that impression from the official public statements by the Russian compatriots program representatives. At a recent meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad, chaired by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the draft program presented “emphasized promotion of the consolidation of public associations of compatriots and the development of partnerships with foreign Russian community [sic.]”.
Also, at the sixth regional conference in Ottawa (yes Ottawa) recently delegates from 15 countries representing some 4.5 million people born in Russia, or their descendants, were said to be focused on ways to “consolidate Russian communities in the West and strengthen comprehensive ties with their historical homeland”. Alexander Chepurin, the Russian official in charge of the compatriots program, stressed that preserving the Russian language and Russian culture among the youth is a prime objective.
When the Compatriots program was launched in 2007, the main obsession was the advocacy of the rights of Russians living abroad. Related to this was the strengthening of the links between Russian compatriots and the Russian state. At the time of the launching, some estimated the number of Russians abroad to be 30 million – a sizeable community whose rights cannot be allowed to be violated. (Loe edasi: www.eestielu.ca)