Author`s name Margarita Kicherova

Inter-ethnic Marriages Symptom of Family Crisis

Are inter-ethnic marriages detrimental to the pureness of a nation, or do they form a new society?
During the Soviet era, a love affair with a foreigner was considered a great sin. If a Soviet girl was seen walking with a foreign man hand in hand, she would have a family scandal at the very least, or a very unpleasant conversation with certain governmental structures. Soviet society did not entirely approve of marriages between Soviet nations, but those marriages were not considered as objectionable.

The situation has changed a lot: the number of mixed marriages is growing fast. This trend can hardly be noticed in the Russian provinces, but it is explicit in Moscow. About 95 percent of Muscovites were ethnic Russians or "white Russians" in 1912. The number of Russians in Moscow had dropped to 89 percent by the year 2000. Probably this number will decrease further, to 73 percent by 2025. About 25 percent of the Russian population is presently living in multi-national families. Many Russians are worried at the trend - they believe they will become the minority.

According to statistics, about 50,000 inter-ethnic marriages were contracted in Moscow last year. About 75,000 Russian women have moved to the US on fiancee visas over the last 12 years. The marriage motive has been changed fundamentally, too. A modern marriage is not necessarilly based on love: it has more to do with the passport issue, with higher status, other citizenship or a city registration.

What is an inter-ethnic marriage? Is it detrimental to the pureness of a nation, or does it form a new society, in which nationality does not matter? Is it a display of true affection and feelings for another person, or is it a way to obtain a certain profit? Is it a way to raise people in the spirit of the single nation or an opportunity to raise people who will accept the cultural traditions of their parents' ancestors and respect other people's cultures too?

Considering the issue in general, one may say that there is nothing bad about inter-ethnic marriages. Such a marriage is not a new phenomenon. History knows the great migration of nations, the great blending of blood. Migration has been active during recent years, which has increased the frequency of inter-ethnic contacts and inter-ethnic marriages. However, women do not want to marry a foreign man at all costs. In addition to the material aspect, the main reason is connected with the crisis of the Russian family.

Women are attracted to foreigners because they have the reputation of teetotallers. This is a big advantage to foreign men in the country, where vodka is considered to be a national disaster. It is especially remarkable in several republics, for example in Kalmykia. Kalmyk women do their best to marry Russian men because they can take care of their families, unlike degrading Kalmyk men.

The situation is different in the center of Russia, specially in Moscow. The number of marriages between Russian, Ukrainian, Moldavian women and Azerbaijani men is growing. Women feel safe with them from the economic point of view. However, such marriages lead to many problems. Adult people are able to withstand society's negative attitude, but children born in inter-ethnic families have to experience a lot of difficulties. First of all, neither Russian nor Azeri children, for instance, will accept a Russian-Azeri child. The ethnic identification issue will exist for such children even if they choose their nationality. Their peers will be trying to refer inter-ethnic children to a less respectable category. As a result, they become ethnic outsiders.

There is also a genetic problem, which is a more complicated aspect. Scientists believe that children born in mixed marriages may have congenital defects. They develop new qualities, new genetic complexes, they are exposed to infectious diseases more often than others, their immune and endocrine systems are less efficient. There are other problems connected with the culture of the country, from which a family member comes.

This issue is actual not only for Orthodox-Muslim marriages, for example, where religious and cultural aspects of upbringing play the key role. It is also actual for inter-European marriages too, although European nations have a lot in common. It is often very difficult for a woman to become accustomed to her foreign husband's lifestyle. Both Russian and foreign laws do not meet all requirements of the current situation. Imperfect law leads to numerous problems.

There are two contrary points of view on the issue of inter-ethnic marriages. Some people say that they destroy the genetic bank of the Russian nation, others say that nationalistic sentiments are gathering steam. Nationalism exists in every country. However, the national gene bank is gradually moving abroad because of the factors examined.

Yet foreigners are not guilty of that - society is. Russia is a multi-national state, it should be built on the principle of integration, when every citizen of a certain nationality is a Russian person who does not have any hatred against other nations. Children are now growing in an atmosphere of mutual hostility. People incite conflicts themselves. Ethnic conflicts will always happen - it is impossible to avoid them. But children must not fall victim to political games.

Igor Kulagin

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