It is often thought that Russia has escaped the multiculturalist extremism that has bedevilled Western Europe in recent decades, although of course it itself is a multiethnic state in which a number of other peoples such as the Tatars, Bashkirs and Ossetians possess their own ethnically demarcated national homelands. The ethnic Russians themselves – russkie – are dispersed across the northern Eurasian landmass, but have as their core ethnic homeland an ill-defined region west of the Urals. In recent years however, the ethnic Russian heartland – Moscow in particular – has been experiencing a mass influx of non-ethnic Russians both from within the Russian Federation and the post-Soviet states of Central Asia and the Caucasus. This has fuelled a process of Islamisation and the associated paralysis caused by mass street prayers in Moscow.
Against this backdrop, a recent initiative reported upon by Izvestiia becomes to a certain extent comprehensible. What is it precisely? Well, Moscow’s City Education Department has decided to introduce its own form of multiculturalist education to promote “the friendship of peoples” through establishing “international clubs (interclubs) where children will be inculcated with tolerance for other peoples.” As yet, the report states that this approach has only been voluntarily adopted by a number of individual educational establishments, and it chooses to examine the “experiment” conducted at School 225 in Moscow’s Central District.
“We have an interclub led by a foreign language teacher” – said the school’s Director Nadezhda Neverova – “In this, children who wish to stay after lessons study and discuss interesting dates, listen to music and express their opinions, prepare theatrical productions and radio broadcasts. This is not bad, and an interesting form of preventative measure against extremism.”
“On 16 February the Education Department will hold a seminar on interclubs for teachers of the capital’s other schools.”
“ The language of culture is the most democratic language in the world”, declared the Deputy Chairman of the Public Chamber on Improving the Quality of Education Liubov’ Dukhanina. “Xenophobia arises precisely because of a shortage of information about another people. Children, coming through such clubs, will be more inclined to tolerance and less towards aggression.”
However, this initiative is not universally supported by Muscovites, and certain parents have made their objections known. Galina Shnaider, Chairman of the “Moscow Parents” movement stated that rather than study other ethnic groups: “It would be better to add to and foster children’s love specifically for Russian culture – national dances and pancakes.” Moreover, “it is not necessary to “inculcate” a position of tolerance to other peoples in our children.”
Quite clearly, the culture wars are coming to Moscow, with defenders of national culture pitting themselves against more powerful forces seeking to impose "tolerant" attitudes upon the city’s children. If this amounts to promoting interest in foreign languages such as English, French and German and an appreciation of their associated cultures, then this can be seen as no bad thing; but if, as I suspect, it focuses particularly upon promoting acceptance of the mass influx of non-European migrants to Moscow, particularly those carrying the increasingly assertive culture of Islam, it is no good thing at all. In a week when Ray Honeyford passed away, Muscovites should learn from the ruinous experience of multiculturalism in Britain and other European countries, and choose instead to preserve and strengthen Russia’s own national identity and traditions. If Russia follows the Western multiculturalist path, how many European nations will still exist in 2100? Although a country with significant - particularly political – flaws, it is still a nation that is strong enough to stand up to the forces of globalism on the international stage when its elite determines such a stance to be in its interest.Will it in future serve as a potential bulwork against the de-Europeanisation of European states, or will it join us in our act of collective cultural self-immolation? Perhaps the fate of the interclubs initiative will give us an indication as to which way the cultural wind will blow in Russia.
Pupils in a Moscow "International Club"