Iran-Russia’s Socio-Cultural Relations
7 Jan 2018 20:10
Author : Elaheh Koolaee
Iran and Russia have experienced very deep and rich socio-cultural relations during about last three centuries. Economic relationship between the two countries paved the rout of social interactions. Russia’s interesting and meaningful literature was very interesting for many Iranian readers before and after the October Revolution in 1917. Both Western liberal and revolutionary thoughts had come to Iran via Russia. The role and impact of Russian intellectual’s ideas in Iranian Constitutional Movement was clear. After the formation of the Communist regime in this country, influence of ideological works and slogans in Iran had been expanded.
In the new atmosphere, and in the shadow of new political and economic system of the Soviet Union, these socio-cultural relations had been blocked. Iran had been a part of the capitalist system. After World War II, in the context of bipolar system these relations deeply decreased. But from 1960s to the end of 1970s, these relations transferred to technical and economic cooperation. The victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran changes deeply the two countries relations.
After a harsh pessimism in their relations, the collapse of the Soviet Union again changed Iran-Russia’s relations. Soon the two countries decided to increase their exchange, but only in political and military fields. During the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran Russia relations constantly expanded. But these relations were based on political and military issues. Iran and Russia have rich and historical linkages, but they permanently have neglected these fields of cooperation. The number of Iranian students in the US and many European and Asian countries are very great in comparison with them in Russia. Especially this is the case about scholars and researchers of the two countries.
Against huge amount of agreements and memorandums of understandings among many Iranian and Russian universities, the practical and real exchange among them are not acceptable with regard to the capacity of implementing these goals. The outcome of continuation of the previous trends in the two countries relations is focusing on hardware policies and systematic ignorance of social and cultural capacities of mutual interests of Iranian and Russian people.
Iran and Russia have very different identity with Western societies. They have similar history in confrontation with the Western civilization. They have similar society and culture with respect the materialist attitudes of the Western societies, especially in the context of religion influence in the two countries both institutionally and practically. Aforementioned they permanently focus on other fields other than their common perceptions and attitudes. Political and security matters are important and vital for them, but cultural and social policies can make stable and durable these relations.
After deterioration in Russia and Western countries relations, against very considerable optimism among some Russian policy makers, Iran-Russia’s relation improved constantly, but the weight of Socio-cultural relation has not expanded in acceptable manner yet. The permanent feature of Iran- Russia’s relations during last decades was focusing on the security – military dimensions and allocating partially role to socio-economic issues, while the latter are very important area for keeping long standing relations.
© Institute for Regional Studies (IRS)
Elaheh Koolaee, professor in Regional Studies at University of Tehran, is the head of the Research Department of Central Eurasia Studies.
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