Duma votes to boost support to compatriots

(RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)
Russia’s Lower House has approved a special statement calling to increase support for ethnic Russians and Russian speakers abroad, and through this to boost the nation’s influence in the world.

The State Duma on Tuesday unanimously voted in favor of the statement.

The move is part of a large-scale plan aimed at supporting former Soviet citizens, most of them ethnic Russians, who ended up in countries other than the Russian Federation after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The program was initiated in the mid-2000s, and by 2013 was to have been in the final stage, but parliamentarians decided to give it another chance as the previous measures proved insufficient.

The statement was presented by the head of the committee for ties with former countrymen, Leonid Slutsky. The official noted that Russia’s expenditure on its cultural centers abroad amounts to just 5 per cent of similar spending in the UK, 15 per cent of French spending, 16 per cent of Germany’s and 30 per cent of Spain’s. He added that the Russian language was suffering from “the harshest competition” even in countries where it has official language status.

Slutsky recalled that Vladimir Putin outlined his position on the issue in his pre-elections articles Russia and the Changing World, and Building Justice. Russia’s Social Policy. In the first article, the president urged to increase Russia’s educational and cultural presence in the world several times over, and to boost it at least ten-fold in countries where part of population can speak or understand Russian. In the second article, Putin said authorities must assure the immigration of about 300,000 people per year, primarily through attracting compatriots who live in foreign countries.