Interview with Sergey Razov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Italy

(To Andrea Cucco)

Russia is a daily protagonist of the front pages of the media now for months. In those who learn the news the attitude is hardly sober and aloof, they take sides. Given the latest bloody and barbaric intervention scene, could you possibly not do it?

We had the opportunity to ask a few questions to HE Sergey Razov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Italy. We took the opportunity to answer a question that many readers have been asking us for months ...

Ambassador Razov, how did Italy imagine before coming to work?

I have always associated Italy with the sun, the sea and an intense cultural life. Do you know that Filippo Marinetti, founder of Italian futurism, was nicknamed "the caffeine of Europe" for his talent, energy and passion? In my opinion, with a certain amount of symbolic generalization this definition can be extended to the whole country.

What in Italy was a pleasant surprise for you and what disappointed you?

Italy amazes for its heterogeneity, its bright colors that dye the life of Rome and other cities. There is no other country, in a single geographical and political space, in which many extraordinary customs and dialects live together. Living here it is impossible not to be pervaded by the feeling of the greatness of its cultural and historical heritage. Italians are incredibly open and creative people, the innate predisposition to communication manifests itself in their passion for convivial encounters in bars and in the gentle amiability they show in their relationships with others.

In this I see a part of your culture and the natural Italic inclination to communication. The phrase "let's see each other tomorrow at this time" is less successful. Despite this, the first thing you notice is the affability towards others and the good education that, as a rule, both people of a certain age and young people manifest.

Italian-Russian relations have a centuries-old history. At what stage are they today?

In the post-Soviet period our relationships have acquired a new quality. In the last eighteen months, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have met five times. The constructive approach of the Italian leader to dialogue with Russia, his effort to support multilateral cooperation, despite the difficult world situation, is adequately appreciated by us.

Judging by the headlines, the Russian presence in Syria seems like a novelty. How long has Russia been making its appearance in this region?

Syria has been linked to Russia for centuries. The Russian pilgrims visited the country during their journey to the Holy Land, and the Russian tsars have many times helped the Syrian Christians. The first metropolitan of Kievan Rus' was the prelate Mikhail - an Arab of Syrian origin. In the 16th century, Antioch actively supported the foundation of the Russian patriarchate.

In the nineteenth century the nunciature of Antioch was established in Moscow, the Orthodox Syrians, to receive a religious education, began to attend Russian spiritual seminaries and academies. Since the 1912, Russia has financed the construction of Russian schools in Syria. In the 1913 the emperor Nicholas II invited Gregory IV, Patriarch of the Great Antioch, to the celebrations for the three hundred years of the Romanov family. Since 1944, the year in which Syria declared its independence, Russia has diplomatic and military relations with the country. At his request, we are offering support to the current Syria government in its fight against ISIS and other terrorist organizations, in order to reconcile the internal conflict in Syria, an objective that, of course, can only be achieved through a political process.

Could you tell our readers how foreign volunteers could serve in the Russian armed forces?

The military service of foreign citizens in the Russian armed forces is regulated by the federal law of 28 March 1998 "of military obligations and military service", but also by the "Provision on military service arrangements" ratified by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation 16 September 1999. In accordance with Russian legislation, foreign citizens have access only to contracted military service. The contract is stipulated for a period of five years with people aged from 18 to 30 years who are legally in the territory of our country. Furthermore, those wishing to perform military service in Russia must know the Russian language and possess the health and psycho-professional requisites of fitness for military service.

I would like to stress that no contract is signed with people who have served sentences in places of detention, are under investigation or have pending charges. In practice, a foreigner who wants to serve in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation must apply to the competent military district or directly to the military department.