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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A symbol that needs a home

The Russian Congress of People's Deputies recently reintroduced the former czarist coat of arms to represent the new Russia, explaining to the unenlightened that the double-headed eagle symbolizes the Russian state reaching out to East and West.


Thinking about this it occurred to me that, in trying to build bridges to the past, we, today's generation, forget that it's impossible to revive what once existed by simply grafting severed roots back on.


Through the 75-year break with the past under the Soviet regime, we are no longer heirs to a durable, prosperous home, but rather tenants of a communal apartment block.


In the days when the old coat-of-arms was still emblazoned on our house, the eagle really symbolized unity - the unity of the monarchy and the people. The people could feel this sense of unity, they respected the authorities and tried to enrich and improve their home.


In those times the eagle could look East and West with pride. The White Army struggled and died in the fight


for the czar and his state in those years of tragic change. This love was in their blood.


These days in Russia, when unity has been lost and the feeling of communication with the past and the


future is missing, when we find ourselves living by the principle "Apres-moi, le deluge", the double-headed eagle reminds me more of two Siamese twins trying to break away from their common home - their unloved common body.


The events of August '91 more than anything else made clear this process of social disintegration - the destructive sense of opposition and confrontation between everything and everybody:


The authorities and the people;


Executive power and the legislature;


The former party nomenclature and new-born democracy;


Industrial monopolists and the fledgling structure of free enterprises;


Collective farms and the handful of private farmers;


Republics, regions, districts, cities and towns;


Orthodox Communists and everyone else.


And nobody, amid all these senseless contradictions, pays any serious attention to the most gravely ill of all:


Russia itself, our poverty- stricken home which we must save or risk becoming a homeless people.


We must reconcile all of its inhabitants to build together, in the best traditions, our own house in which we can feel at home, not as tenants but as owners, and not only for ourselves but for generations to come, a house in which we can feel, with dignity, that we are the rightful inheritors of our country's difficult past.


Until this comes to pass, until the 75-year memory gap has been bridged and we feel internally that Russia is our COMMON home, the historic meaning of our former coat-of-arms cannot unite anybody.


The double-headed eagle's home will remain an empty nest.


And yet, we must not lose hope.