Staunton, September 17 – Svetlana Smirnova, president of the Council of the Assembly of Peoples of Russia, told the First Congress of the Peoples of Chuvashia that “if in the 1990s, questions of the preservation of national culture … were important, now, alongside them issues of strengthening the unity of the [supra-ethnic] Russian nation have risen.”
Both her words, which included calls for “the formation of an all-Russian civic identity and the strengthening of the spiritual commonality of the peoples of Russia” and the venue she delivered them at, a multi-national meeting in a national republic, show that Moscow is now tilting away from the non-Russian nations and toward an increasingly Russian Russian nation.
The Chuvash, a Christian Turkic nation in the Middle Volga, form two-thirds of the population of their republic and have been subject to intense russification pressure, including opposition to efforts to increase the role of their language in that republic. (For background, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/01/an-insidious-way-moscow-has-employed-to.html.)
But despite Chuvash protests, Moscow and its allies, including the Russian Orthodox Church, are stepping up the pressure, and the First Congress of Peoples of Chuvashia provides a clear measure of that. Not only did it feature Smirnova’s speech, but the Chuvash formed only 43.1 percent of the delegates (nazaccent.ru/content/21864-pervyj-sezd-narodov-chuvashii.html