I saw this piece in VESTI. The Mayor of Moscow has come up with a new way of addressing the problem of migrants. Like many capital cities of the world, Moscow has a migrant problem. People flock there, both legally and illegally, in seach of jobs. Often the result is culture clashes, inter-ethnic tensions, and even fights sometimes.
According to this new initiative, by the end of January the Moscow Mayor’s office will begin to disseminate 50,000 copies of a 100-page comic book aimed at an audience of migrants. The comic book is in Russian, and the drawings are done by certified artists. This government Purchase Order shows that the municipal government allocated 7 million rubles for this project.
The comic book features heroes and heroines taken from Russian folk tales. They explain to the migrants, in perfect Russian, how to comport themselves in the capital.
For example, the Russian police are represented by the Three Knights of Russian folk tale. Fans of Russian folklore know that these knights are named Ilya Muromets, Alyosha Popovich, and Dobrynya Nikitich. The job of the knights is to slay dragons such as Tugarin Zmeevich; and also to fight against nasty witches such as Baba Yaga; and evil sorcerers such as Koschei the Deathless. In the Mayor’s comic book, these three knights represent the Moscow municipal police force. They explain to the migants that if a police officer stops you and asks for your documents, this should not be construed as an accusation or humiliation. It’s just normal procedure.
Another important figure in the comic book is the legendary heroine, Vasilisa the Wise, sometimes known as Vasilisa the Beautiful. Her job is to teach the migrants Russian. Well, if they don’t know Russian, then they won’t be able to read the comic, right?
Once upon a time Vasilisa was kidnapped by the sorcerer Koschei. His shtick is that he is a skinny, almost skeletal figure, who likes to kidnap young brides and put them into a deep sleep, until they agree to marry him; which they never do. In the Mayor’s comic book, the blue-ish long-nosed Koschei taunts the migrants and tries to sucker them into hiring themselves out for illegal labor.
In addition to fictional characters, the comic book also features historical characters such as Prince Dolgorukiy, who advises the migrants to go out there and view the amazing sights of the capital city; and poet Alexander Pushkin, who advises migrants to speak Russian correctly.
Other personages offer good advice, lots of do’s and don’t’s, especially don’t’s, such as the following:
- Don’t make people feel uncomfortable around you
- Don’t stare at women passing by
- Don’t eat on the street
- Don’t talk loudly among yourselves
- Don’t switch to the “ty” form of speech (the familiar “you”) when just meeting somebody
- Don’t try to force your services on people
All very good advice, and not only for migrants!