Nick Slater is a Russia travel specialist. He has lived there before and he studied Russian at school and university.
This half term we have been learning about Russia and their rights. Rights in Russia are unfair because citizens are being denied what they need.
One example of a right being taken away in Russia is the right to say what you want. In Russia, you can’t have your say in how the country is run and you can’t criticise the government. You can’t love or marry who you want if you are gay and you can’t believe what you want.
The best action is to talk to Russia because we don’t want war. We went to war with Iraq and paid the price. If we go to war with Russia, we will lose because they are bigger, colder and richer than us.
Do you agree?
From: BlueWhale1 | Faringdon Community College
Hi BlueWhale1, and thanks for your question.
I completely agree that we don’t want war with Russia and that it’s not the best way to deal with the situation. Looking at gay rights, I think it’s important to remember that only 50 years ago in the UK it was against the law to be gay, and that gay couples have only been allowed to marry for the past 3 years. In our country, it has been easier to make things fair and equal because we have had a stable government for a long time.
However, everything changed in Russia 26 years ago when the Soviet Union ended. That means that a new political system was started and the country have had lots of difficult changes to deal with. This shouldn’t be an excuse for inequality, and I really want Russia to be as equal as we are here in the UK, but I think we will have to wait for these changes to happen.
I agree that the best option is to talk, and also to set a good example. If we can show how well our country works with equality and freedom of speech, then it sets a good example for countries like Russia.
I have learnt that Russian’s do not have these rights:
- Same-sex marriage is not allowed
- They cannot speak against the government of Russia
- Human Rights are ignored by people in power
If I lived in Russia, I would not find it easy to live there because the government would tell you what to do and you won’t have any FREEDOM. I would like to live in a country where I can speak independently without the government telling what to do.
What’s the ‘real’ situation? How restricted are you?
From: Blue Butterfly | Streatham Wells Primary School
Thanks for your question Blue Butterfly, and I agree with you.
The honest answer is that I have been offered the opportunity to live and work full-time in Russia, and I chose not to because I don’t feel comfortable living there. I’m openly gay and I live in London. I love living here because I always feel like I can be myself and I don’t have to hide.
Unfortunately, when I lived in Russia before, I did feel like I had to hide and I was scared to tell anyone I was gay because of the reaction I might get. Also, I worked with children in Russia, and it is actually against the law to talk children about being gay.
However, I did find that lots of people do speak against the government in Russia and there is more freedom of speech than we think. Young people are becoming more interested in politics and some people aren’t happy with the government. From my experience, the ‘real’ situation is definitely more restrictive than here in the UK, but perhaps not as restrictive as some people think.
"I don’t think the Russian people are scared of revenge, but perhaps they are scared of change."
Why hasn’t Russia elected a new president yet? Is it because they fear that president Putin will get his revenge in some of way?
From: Knighthunter24 | John Ruskin Primary School
In fact, Russia did recently have a different president. From 2008 – 2012, a man called Dmitry Medvedev was the President of Russia and Vladimir Putin was the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, not much changed and people say that Putin was still acting as the president and Medvedev was just a ‘puppet’.
The older generation in Russia have been through so much dramatic political change, it is easy for Putin to tell them that stability and consistency is the best option, and I think that is part of the reason why he has been in power for so long. It is also important to remember that in Russian elections there usually isn’t any other choice for Russian people. Putin’s government have a history of getting rid of any opponents before an election, and there are also lots of cases of elections being rigged, which means the vote isn’t fair.
I don’t think the Russian people are scared of revenge, but perhaps they are scared of change.
If you didn’t know, the Russian government owns the TV mainstream lines. That means if any journalist try to post a story about Putin that him and the government don’t like they can just not let it go up! This means that some people can’t do their jobs properly and then don’t get paid enough!
From: WiseOwl13 | Streatham wells Primary School
Thanks for the questions, WiseOwl13.
I definitely don’t think it’s fair!
An example of this is that I had some friends living in Russia when Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. Russia’s government and the church (which is closely linked with the government) were not happy with this because they believed that Conchita Wurst promoted a non-traditional lifestyle. My friend was watching the show live on TV and as soon as the winner was announced, the programme was cut and it switched to the news.
It’s really scary to think that the government have the control over what people watch. Fortunately, the internet has helped the freedom of information in Russia, and people living there do have access to news from across the world and there are some independent online news channels in Russia which aren’t controlled by the government. This means that the young generation in Russia have a more open view of the world and I like to think that this is a positive sign for the future!
What made you interested in learning Russian and why did you want to live there?
From: Olivia | The Economist Educational Foundation
I’ve been interested in Russia since I was a teenager, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn the language over the past 11 years. I actually found it quite difficult to make the decision to live in Russia. I love the language, culture, history and people of Russia, but I don’t agree with its politics and the lack of freedom.
As a gay man I also find it especially hard to accept its views on gay people and same-sex marriage, which I believe is a human right. However, I don’t believe that you can expect or encourage anywhere in the world to change if you don’t understand the country and its culture, or the reasons why people believe the things they do.
I also believe it’s unfair to think that everyone who lives in Russia feels the same way as its government and I’ve learnt this by living there and meeting some amazing people. Change can only happen with understanding, and I hope that one day I will be able to help change the injustice in Russia.