Russophilia

Russophilia, love of Russia or Russians, is individual or collective admiration and fond of Russia, Russian history and Russian culture, especially someone who is sympathetic to the political system and customs of the former Soviet Union or who exhibits Russian nationalism in spite of not even being either an ethnic Russian or a Russian citizen.

Russophilia in other European countries may be based on stereotypes produced by mass culture (“traditional Russian hospitality”, “Russian tenderness” etc.), as well as on in-depth study of Russian mentality, as expressed, e.g., by American author Robert Alexander: “I love Russians for their dramatic, emotional nature. They’re not afraid to love, not afraid to get hurt, not afraid to exaggerate or act impulsively.”

In October 2004, the International Gallup Organization announced the results of its poll, according to which approximately 20% of the residents of Western Europe viewed Russia positively, with the most positive view coming from Iceland, Germany, Greece, and Britain. The percentage of respondents expressing a positive attitude towards Russia was 9% in Finland, Turkey, and Japan, 38% in Lithuania, 36% in Latvia, and 34% in Estonia. Estonia and especially Latvia have a large number of ethnic Russians, which likely affected the result.

Russia is hugely popular in Serbia, and Serbs have always traditionally seen Russia as a close ally due to shared Slavic culture and Orthodox faith. In Serbia and Montenegro, whose nations are both predominately Eastern Orthodox, the faith expressed by a vast majority of Russians, there was no Soviet influence and Russians were always seen as friendly brotherly people. About 83% of Serbs see Russia as their first ally on the international scene. In both Serbia and Montenegro, there are neighbourhoods, streets, buildings and statues named after something Russian. In Serbia there is the Russian Centre of Science and Culture, Hotel Moskva and a Monument to Soviet war veterans.

Russophilia, Moscophilia, Ukrainian: москвофільство, moskvofil’stvo was a linguistic, literary and socio-political movement in the Western Ukrainian territories of Galicia, Transcarpathia, and Bukovyna in the 18th – 20th centuries. Proponents of this movement believed in linguistic, cultural, social union with Russian people and later in state union with Russia. Among the causes for the emergence of this phenomenon were the absence of Ukrainian statehood, centuries of foreign oppression, fragmented Ukrainian territories and dispersed population, as well as the defection of national elite to neighbouring cultures and a weak sense of national identity.

The first instances of Russophilia in Transcarpathia date back as far as late 18th early 19th centuries when several famous Russians with ties to the government and the court of the tsar settled there. Such famous scientists and social activists as I. Orlai, M. Baludiansky, P. Lodiy and others lived in Transcarpathia and maintained close ties with the country of their birth and thereby promoted interest towards Russia, especially towards its cultural life, its language and literature.

When Galicia and Bukovyna were incorporated into the Habsburg Empire in 1772 the Austrian government treated the Ukrainian population of these territories with suspicion as it was afraid it was susceptible to Russian influence due to the closeness of Ukrainian and Russian languages and cultures. This mistrust of the authorities was cultivated by influential Polish politicians and activists in an effort to forestall the growth of national consciousness on territories where Poles traditionally had influence. Any attempt at cultural revival was met with hostility from the Austrian government which regarded them as an influence from Moscow. In spite of this atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion the first educational establishment “The Fellowship of Priests” was founded in Przemyśl. Metropolitan M. Levytsky began to introduce the Ruthenian language in elementary schools, developed grammar books, insisted on instruction in University in Ruthenian and founded “Ruska Troyka” Society. The Lemko-Rusyn Republic, after World War I, attempted to join Lemko territories to Russia, and later to similar areas of the newly formed Czechoslovakia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *