Genetic Cocktail Could Prove Diplomatic Coup

Is there a way of being politically correct in a nation of over 100 ethnic nationalities? In the West, political correctness has become something of an obsession, viewed as hilarious by us Russians who are still happily telling Ukrainian jokes, Chukchi jokes, Jewish jokes, Georgian and Armenian jokes -- although I know suspiciously few Russian jokes.

Nor, interestingly, have I ever heard any Chechen jokes -- if you discount former KGB chief Mikhail Barsukov's "joke" about all Chechens being thieves crooks and killers, or General Pulikovsky's "bad joke" that he was about to wipe out Grozny, again.

But what about the growing Vita? Is she better off in an American-style bubble of political correctness protecting her from recognizing cultural differences at all? Or is crude Russian honesty about the quirks of hundreds of different nationalities more likely to help her understand her own complicated cultural heritage?

What will her response be, for example, to one my favorite jokes about a man who takes a bet that he can persuade a Frenchman an Englishman and a Russian to jump off a bridge into the river. He tells the Frenchman that his mistress has left him, the Englishman that the Queen has abdicated and the Russian that the government has just decreed that it is strictly forbidden to jump off bridges. Of course, they all jump. Silly, but I always think of it when Miranda and Vita are singing "London Bridge Is Falling Down."

As someone who feels 100 percent Russian, and knowing Miranda feels thoroughly English, I find it hard to imagine how Vita will identify herself. Or does it matter? Her 50/50 pure Russian-English nationality is, in actual fact, a medley of genes ranging from the Baltics to Siberia, the Caucasus, Ukraine and a hint of Buryat, mixed with Miranda's Celtic-Roman-Anglo-Saxon-Norman-British and a touch of Scottish.

When Boris Yeltsin decreed recently that Russia must quickly find herself a national identity, my own newspaper Izvestia warned that powerful national identities frequently yield sedition, dissension, blood and prejudice.

Perhaps, indeed, the lack of a clear-cut national identity is an advantage, and the more such children there are the greater the benefit for the future relations of humankind.

Starting in a small way at home, Vita's mere presence, now that she understands everything we say, has prompted an outbreak of diplomacy: Miranda has had to stop her ritual attacks on "you Russians" and "your godforsaken country" (to which, of course, she is secretly addicted), while I can no longer tell her to stop being "so English" (a quality which, of course, I secretly admire).

It augers well for a future diplomatic career for little Vita. But on whose side would she serve?