In the 20th century, there were close ties between Russia and Mongolia – political, economic, cultural. Mongolia owes its independence from China, the development of infrastructure, and acquaintance with the achievements of European civilization to its northern neighbor. For this, many Mongols are still grateful to the “Russian brothers”, but today Russian influence is no longer regarded as unambiguously as in the days of the USSR. “Subtleties” collected conflicting opinions of the inhabitants of Mongolia about Russia and Russians.
1. Mother Russia and Russian brothers
This is how Mongols over 50 still call Russia and its inhabitants in memory of the long Soviet-Mongolian friendship. They also passed on respect for the neighboring country to the younger generation: although Mongolian youth are now more interested in Korean culture, Russians are mostly treated positively here.
“I remember that my grandparents always called Russians our Russian brothers, and this indicates a really close and good relationship,” writes a Quora user from Ulaanbaatar. “My friends and I have great respect for the Russian people. Mongolia was on the verge of extinction without Russia. Medicine, education, transport, even entire cities – the entire infrastructure was created with the help of Russia, ”says another resident of the Mongolian capital.
And the Mongols are also grateful to the Russians for the most basic things – for example, for hygiene skills and other rules of everyday culture that Soviet doctors instilled in the local population.
2. Russians are not the same
In general, the Mongols consider Russia's influence positive, but now they perceive our country not as unequivocally as before: it is no longer a friend and brother, but a neighbor, pursuing, first of all, its own interests, which may run counter to the interests of Mongolia. As examples, the Mongols cite projects for the construction of railways and power plants, which were never carried out due to Russian intervention.
The opinion about Russians has also changed – forum visitors write that today Russians are too oriented towards Western values: “I'm not sure about modern Russians. Maybe capitalism and individualism made them that way. I don't think they are as strong as they used to be.”
3. Russians are scientists and thinkers
On the forums, the Mongols call the Russians a nation of great thinkers and scientists. Those who are about 40 today studied in Russian schools and grew up on Soviet literature, films and music. Many of them received free education in Soviet universities, and Russian culture became for them a kind of window into the big world.
“The first association with Russia is science, since I read my first scientific book in Russian,” says Baljnyam, a Mongolian biologist. “It is in Russian that I learn about the world, it has become the foundation for me to master other languages,” says translator Erdenechimeg.
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4. Russians cook well, but drink a lot
Since Soviet times, most Mongolians are well acquainted with Russian cuisine, and it is still popular in Mongolian families. “I grew up with Russian food that my grandmother cooked, and if I had to choose between Russian food or some other food, I would choose Russian,” writes Bilguun Bayarsaikhan from Ulaanbaatar.
The Mongols consider strong liquor to be an integral attribute of Russian life: “I studied in the USSR during the Prohibition period and I remember that vodka was then a great value. Nothing works out of the blue in Russia – neither to communicate, nor to make friends, ”recalls the owner of the Enhee restaurant.