Are We Russian or Mongolian?

Interestingly, some Mongolians who do not know anything about Russia still love Russia. Psycho analytics will call this a collective unconscious or archetypes. We Mongolians have known Russia and the Russians, since Chinggis Khaan sent his advance troops to Kiev Russia in the 13th century. Therefore, seven centuries and seventy years has been enough time to occupy the minds and mentalities of Mongolians. It might be said that the Russian invasion of our mentalities has been much more effective and victorious than our actual numerous invasions of their homeland.

Of course, the main reason to love Russia is thanks to the socialist era of Mongolian history. Most Mongolian adults over 40 studied Russian or lived in the former Soviet Union. Even now, for many of them, it is probably the only non-Asian country that they have visited. In the Soviet Union, Mongolians felt like Americans, Europeans or Japanese there because they were treated like aliens along with others from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. In any socialist country every alien, even from a friendly country, is usually perceived as a potential enemy spy


The Russian language is still the first and last language for many Mongolian scholars and artists. For higher education and the health industries, Russian is still the only foreign language, which gives them access to the entire world. Some of my critics might say that many Mongolian scholars know English. It would be wonderful if this truly was the case. Nowadays, many of these industries are flourishing. The number of private universities and hospitals are increasing rapidly and the percentage of these private entities exceeds that of public ones. Unfortunately, most of them still offer a low quality socialist type of education and health care.

Open the newspaper or go into a bookstore and you will see many leading Mongolian economists, usually above the age of 50, who like to write and talk about the market economy, inflation and the role of the state in the economy. All of these experts were Russian educated, or they studied in Mongolia, using Russian textbooks. Therefore, these famous Mongolian economists like to refer to Russian translated western books often. For example, one famous Mongolian economist mentioned in an interview that he subscribes to over a hundred magazines and newspapers. Russians are very good with presenting western concepts in their unique manner which attracts people from former socialist countries. Thanks to them, the Mongolian public understands the notions of inflation, GDP, currency fluctuations and even about stock markets quite well.

In the Mongolian parliament, there are several Mongolian economists who specialized in the political economy of socialism. Therefore, they all still support heavy industry and the main role of state enterprises in an economy. Karl Marx is well known for having said that heavy industry is the base of any economy.

Nowadays, Mongolian members of parliament like to go back to Russia to receive postgraduate degrees. Russians are still using their old degrees so Mongolians can translate them freely to English. For example, a lower post graduate degree in Russian will be translated as PhD in English. Therefore, the Mongolian Parliament has several prominent scholars, such as Member of Parliament, Dr. Ch.Ulaan and Member of Parliament Sc.Dr. D. Baldan Ochir, who according to his official biography, was able to finish all of his postgraduate degrees within only two years. Of course, the middle aged generation of Mongolian economists were retrained in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. But, what is one or two years of postgraduate study compared to four or five years of their study in the Soviet Union? Also, they spent their entire lives in a socialist economy, such as the Governor of the Central Bank of Mongolia, D.Purevdorj.
There is another interesting huge Russian heritage that we have adopted. It is not only Soviet but it is Russian too. Russian Presidents like to award their scholars, medical doctors and professionals with various titles, medals and orders. Of course, Mongolian Presidents like to do this too. The current President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj promised in his election battle that he would not continue this practice; even his former Director of Presidential Administration D.Dorjigjav complained that the previous President of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar wasted many medals and orders. Therefore, when the new President Elbegdorj took office, he faced a shortage of medals, orders and titles. Nevertheless, a downpour of titles, medals and orders also came from Ts.Elbegdorj as well, despite his earlier promises. So, why does this practice continue? Quite simply, people love it.

The current Minister of Health S.Lambaa even received the title of People’s Teacher while he was a Member of Parliament. According to his official biography, he was teaching for only two years. The title of People’s Teacher was created in the Soviet Union to motivate low paid teachers to work more and more without complaints, especially in rural areas.
Very often, Mongolian oligarchs and politicians like to receive strange titles such as “honored cowboy” or herdsmen. It is very common for rich Mongolians to own many horses. Therefore, you might be led to believe that they are spending their entire spare time in the countryside with their horses.
Even the younger generation of artists, especially Mongolian country singers love to receive titles, such as Honored Artists, Leading Cultural Workers, or some other even crazier titles and medals.
All of these titles and medals along with orders will most certainly precede a large party. Every recipient of any title,

medal or order should organize a huge party almost like a wedding party. These parties are a pure Russian tradition.
Anther Russian tradition is the continuous desire to study, especially if you are high ranking official, politician or big businessman. Recently, there was some speculation in the Western press about the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin’s dissertation. Also, one can not only have a Bachelors degree. You need to have a Masters degree, after a Masters degree you should have a Ph.D. After a Ph.D. you should obtain an Sc.D. The Mongolian scientific elite successfully combined Western degrees with Russian degrees. In Western countries, a Ph.D. is the last degree you can obtain. In Mongolia, you can also have a very strange degree, which is called “Science Doctor.” Therefore, if you have a Ph.D. from Harvard University or Oxford University, you are not qualified to become the Rector of Mongolian State University. You need to study again in Russia or Kirgizstan to obtain this degree.

Sometimes, however, these medals and orders, and degrees come under extremely odd circumstances. For example, after his study in the UK, the Prime Minister of Mongolia S.Batbold apparently was not so happy with his level of education. According to his biography, he went to study again at the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow while he was the Vice Minister in the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One can only wonder how a person can be at two places at the same time. In 2008, while S.Bayar was Prime Minister, he awarded Batbold with the Order of Red Labor Heroism, an order traditionally given to factory workers and the like. At the time, he was serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Later, when Bayar fell ill, he gave his prime minister seat to Batbold. According to official biography, former Premier Minister S. Bayar does not have one single medal or title.

Clearly, there will be a dominance of Russian/Soviet heritage for a while in Mongolia. As Russia quickly becomes a part of the global economy, Mongolia will eventually leave that heritage behind.
source: The UB Post
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