Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots in the Netherlands Zoya Vasilyeva talked with Elena Vladimirovna Panina, Chairman of the ARNC Commission for Relations with International Organizations & nbsp; and compatriots; deputy of the State Duma of Russia, with the topic "Interaction of the Russian Orthodox Church with organizations of compatriots in the European Union: experience and prospects."
The World Russian People's Council (VRNS) was established in May 1993, and the main initiative of the VRNS was to unite all Russian people, regardless of the country of residence and political views. In 2019, the ARNC International Committee was established, as I understand it, in order to represent the interests of the ARNC before international organizations, including organizations of compatriots living abroad. Is there already experience of such cooperation? with the Coordinating Councils of Russian Compatriots and other public organizations of compatriots over the past two years? How do you see cooperation, and how would this cooperation be useful?
Elena Panina: b>
The World Russian People's Council is an international public organization. Being for many years the All-Russian tribune of public thought, VRNS has become the largest Russian public forum. The VRNS was created to unite not only ethnically Russian people, but also people of other nationalities who share traditional Russian values that respect Russian culture. This is a serious difference between the VRNS and many organizations that, if they unite people, then exclusively on a national basis.
VRNS is a dynamically developing organization that has managed to build relationships with many allies and is working on consolidation of the Russian people around everything that is dear and sacred to them. Of course, over more than twenty years of its activity, the ARNS has significantly expanded and strengthened its position in the international arena.
at the UN in New York and Geneva, our representatives participate in the discussion of issues that affect interethnic, interreligious relations, where the experts of the Council can express their position based on experience. In addition, the World Russian People's Council was granted special consultative status with the United Nations, which allowed us to participate in official meetings and conferences of most of the UN agencies, make statements and distribute our documents.
In addition, in order to interact with international organizations and compatriots living abroad, by the decision of the Bureau of the Presidium of the ARNC of February 19, 2020, the ARNC Commission for Relations with International Organizations and Compatriots Living Abroad was established. Unfortunately, the events related to due to the Covid 19 pandemic, reduced direct interaction with compatriots abroad, and our Commission (like many other organizations) had to move to an online format. We will definitely return to our usual workflow as soon as the situation in the world stabilizes.
How do we see cooperation with Coordinating Councils of Russian Compatriots and other public organizations of compatriots, and how would this cooperation be useful?
The overwhelming majority of our compatriots abroad, of course, would like to support Russian traditions, culture, and their native Russian language.  ;When linguistic communication is lost, the connection between generations is automatically lost, and, consequently, cultural traditions are lost, cultural values are forgotten.
Native language is a means of preserving and transmitting culture, history, traditions of the people and the continuity of generations . For our compatriots who want to remain within the framework of Russian culture, it is very important that their children receive knowledge in their native Russian language, since this is the only way not to lose their roots and their centuries-old history.
For example, our compatriots independently raise funds for the construction of small churches, organize cultural events. Often these initiatives close in on themselves and do not always find support from those few Russian institutions abroad that are largely engaged in diplomatic work, and do not always pay due attention to interaction with the Councils of compatriots.
I believe that public structures , such as the International Council of Russian Compatriots, the World Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots and the World Russian People's Council should take on the consolidating function of maintaining relations with the communities of compatriots in various countries of the world.
What could would there be cooperation?
These are joint conferences, cultural events related to the presentation of the latest achievements in the field of culture. This can also be interprofessional cooperation: in the field of IT technologies, engineering specialties, professional cooperation among doctors, epidemiologists, and vaccine developers has become especially relevant in the context of a pandemic.
An example of interprofessional cooperation is the Moscow Engineering Forum, the Organizing Committee of which I head. Representatives of different countries come to our Forum (or take part online), among them there are many of our compatriots. The ARNS Commission could also assist in the arrival of our compatriots from abroad to thematic events that will set up throughout the country as soon as the epidemiological situation normalizes. To maintain communication between generations and so that children do not forget their roots and do not lose touch with the historical past of their country, it is worth thinking about organizing outbound trips within the framework of children's health camps, Orthodox children's institutions.
His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in one of his speeches to compatriots noted: “The Russian Orthodox Church considers it its duty to help compatriots living abroad and strengthen their unity…” Is there already an assistance program and what will it consist of?
For Russian communities abroad, the Orthodox Church is a living link with the Fatherland. The Moscow Patriarchate notes the demand for social and legal protection of compatriots, support for their most vulnerable categories. It seems important to unite the efforts of the Church, the Russian state, the World Russian People's Council, compatriots' organizations, local authorities on the issues of full integration of our compatriots into the public life of their countries of residence, protection temple buildings, places of religious worship and reverence, Russian cemeteries and memorials.
If we talk about programs to protect and help compatriots living abroad, it is important to say this: in July 2010, with the direct participation of the Department External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate amended the Federal Law "On the State Policy of the Russian Federation towards Compatriots Abroad".
In order to coordinate the efforts of various church, public and state structures in working with compatriots,
to contribute to the formation of a database of specific projects and initiatives aimed at preserving the Russian Orthodox tradition;
consider it useful to prepare and hold the Days of Russian Spiritual Culture;
< li> more active participation of representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church in country and regional events of compatriots;
establishment of twinning relations between parishes abroad and in the countries of the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.
VRNS also takes a direct part in establishing relations with our compatriots abroad, provides information support, visits Orthodox parishes abroad.
For example, the Delegation of the World Russian People's community of Harbin (PRC) visited the parish of the Intercession Church in Harbin. In a warm and friendly atmosphere, a conversation was held between representatives of the ARNS by Father Alexander Yu Shi, a cleric of the Orthodox Autonomous Church in China, parishioners of the Orthodox church and compatriots. Issues of interaction between the VRNS and the Orthodox community of Harbin and compatriots living in the historical center of the Russian Diaspora in the Far East were discussed. The meeting participants agreed to continue cooperation and mutual contacts.
Many Russian compatriots living abroad are immigrants from the Soviet Union, that is, they were born and lived during the times of the USSR and from that time have remained and still remain either atheists or agnostics. This is largely due to their Soviet education, and also that compatriots did not seek to assimilate and attend services in Catholic, Protestant and other churches, since Orthodox parishes are often located abroad far from their place of residence.
How does the VRNS see its interaction (cooperation) with compatriots who have their own view of faith (atheistic or agnostic)?
Elena Panina: The WRNS is a secular organization and unites people by no means on religious grounds, despite the fact that the head of the Cathedral is His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Representatives of different confessions and nationalities, political parties, united by the desire to unite Russia and make it a great power. Representatives of not only traditional confessions for Russia (Orthodox, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists), but also representatives of the Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity are constantly present at the meetings of the Council. However, we must remember that the basic basis of Russian traditional values, despite the secular nature of our organization , after all, Orthodoxy is. For by themselves, apart from Christian morality, Russian traditional values are turning into ordinary concepts.
It was Orthodox values that acted and should act as the life norms and rules of our compatriots, which will contribute to the independence of the state and help repel any threats. In addition, being the historical core of traditional Russian culture, Orthodox culture is closely connected with the national cultures of many peoples of Russia in their historical development and current state. Man himself chooses his spiritual path. And belonging to Orthodoxy is not the main condition for working with the VRNS.
I agree that many immigrants from the Soviet Union living abroad do not seek to assimilate. Leaving for another country, they retained the Soviet culture, its values and norms. By the way, Soviet values, in many respects, have something in common with traditional Russian values. For example, mutual assistance, support, self-sacrifice, disinterestedness, justice, sincerity - these values became a connecting "red thread" for our multinational country, thanks to which we survived in The Great Patriotic War and became a victorious people.
Our compatriots, brought up according to the Soviet model, even being far from their homeland, remember and celebrate many Orthodox holidays: they bake Easter cakes, paint eggs for Easter, carol at Christmas, dive into the hole for Epiphany. At the same time, there is a problem: perhaps someone would like to visit Orthodox churches, but, as you rightly noted, often Orthodox parishes abroad are far from their place of residence.
This problem in small towns Europe (Italy, Spain, France) and other countries of the world, local communities and communes decide as follows: they collect funds for the construction of small Orthodox churches. As a rule, the World Russian People's Council and the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church try to help in this work.
< i> The VRNS has a Council, which includes government officials and politicians, scientists, cultural figures, outstanding athletes and many others. Recently it became known that one of the representatives of Russian compatriots living abroad will represent the movement compatriots in the “Public Chamber of Russia”. Does the ARNS consider such an opportunity to include a representative of Russian compatriots living abroad in the Council of the ARNC?
I believe that representatives of Russian compatriots living abroad should, of course, be in the Council, the Presidium of the ARNC, and our Commission. I think that in the near future we will prepare proposals for candidates among our foreign compatriots who could join the ARNC. In any case, the choice is theirs. The desire to work with our organization will be highly appreciated by the ARNC.