Petro: Polls usually tell us more about the preconceptions of the poll taker than they do about the real feelings of those they are surveying. That is why the results often differ so widely.
As noted historians Jacob Walkin, Sergei Utechin, Sergei Pushkarev, Viktor Leontovitsch and Sir Paul Vinogradoff have shown. Russia's democratic traditions extend back at least as far as those of any Western country. In my own writings I have suggested that it is more useful to think of Russian political culture as one continuous historical tapestry, rather than a stone monument. As God weaves his design for each nation into its tapestry there will be periods when some strands dominate and others are submerged, but none are ever completely lost. Each national tapestry will differ in its design, but the nature of those differences is a question of philosophy, with little practical relevance to the issue of which aspects of the national heritage best serve the country's needs today.
MercatorNet: Winston Churchill described the USSR as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". Do we understand anything much about Russia, even now?
Petro: Churchill's quote continues: "but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." Churchill is right, especially today. Russia is no more difficult to understand than any other country, if one is willing to appreciate that it has its own national interest, and would like to see it respected by other countries.
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