Staunton, November 2 – Yekaterinburg political analyst Fyodor Krasheninnikov says Vladimir Putin’s talk about “a Russian nation” recalls not “the Soviet people” the CPSU tried to promote but rather the efforts of Marshal Tito to create a nation of Yugoslavs out of the diverse population of his country.
That effort, Krasheninnikov says, worked for the few offspring of ethnically mixed marriages who did “begin to consider themselves Yugoslavs” but “then everyone again divided up into Serbs, Croatians, Slovenians, and so on. Only the fools remained Yugoslavs” (facebook.com/fyodor.krasheninnikov/posts/10210186756479584?pnref=story.unseen-section).
Other commentators are already suggesting that Putin’s new law will spark more ethnic conflicts between Russians and non-Russians in the Russian Federation or deepen divisions within the ethnic Russian nation itself.
Valery Rashkin, the deputy chairman of the Duma’s nationalities committee, says that “the transition to one nation – the [civic] Russian one – will generate the hostility of the small nationalities” which will view it as a direct attack on their culture and traditions, something that could create serious problems throughout the country (lenta.ru/news/2016/11/01/national/).
And Russian nationalist commentator Oleg Kashin is blunt about what the new law means: Putin, he says, “will be creating his nation, but ours will remain with us,” an indication that many ethnic Russians aren’t going to be pleased by what they see as a bloodless identity (spektr.press/putin-sozdast-svoyu-naciyu-a-nam-ostanetsya-nasha-manifest-olega-kashina-o-proekte-rossijskoj-nacii-i-razbitom-koryte/).
Mr. Putin, Kashin says, “you have the right to do this: your power in the Russian Federation is without limit. No one can argue with you. You can allow yourself to do what you want. But I,” he continues, not seeing for myself a place in the nation being created by Putin want to use this occasion to proclaim my own, not new but which has existed for a long time.”
“That nation,” he continues, “which as we see Putin doesn’t need: for simplicity’s sake, I will call it the Russian.”
“Putin’s nation is the nation of the biker Khirurg, the nation of Ramzan Kadyrov, th nation of the devotees of Stalin and Shoygu. [It] pretends to world significance. It fights in Syria. It gets agitated by the American elections. It even according to rumors would like to organize something in Montenegro.”
But Kashin continues, “my nation has more modest desires: It does not have global ambitions, geopolitical interests or even Iskanders. My nation, one of many of the post-imperial nations in Eastern Europe consists of millions of people often without a good place, unhappy, poor, an outdoor privy… I consider it immoral to involve such a nation in these megalomaniacal projects until the right to human life is realized first.”
“Over the course of all its history … my nation was taught that life was worthless and that this was normal … My nation has the most horrific experience with prisons in modern times. The camp system established in the years of the dictatorship achieved Hitlerite dimensions, buteven now it is alive, even today … we have the latest testimony about torture and terror in Russian prisons from political prisoner Ildar Dadiin.”
“Today there are not so many political prisoners in Russia,” Kashin says, “but they are not the only victims of the arbitrariness of prison … The national interest of Putin is the preservation and strengthening of the prison system. My national interest is its destruction, freedom for all those wrongly condemned, and an end to terror and torture.”
“My nation has given humanity a great culture … [but] in the Putinist state, culture is under the power of cynical and ignorant managers for whom art is no more than a form of propaganda and any cultural heritage only a means to make money. My national interest is the preservation of Russian culture and its salvation from censorship, destruction and usurpation by the state.”
“My nation mastered an enormous geographic space and built on it the largest country in the world. For Putin, this country has value only as a source of exportable resources. My national interest is an economy in which there is a place for villages and small cities which have no prospects from Putin’s point of view and for the humanitarian intelligentsia.”
“My nation,” Kashin continues, “more than one fought in its history, and the fraternal graves of Russian soldiers are to be found throughout Europe. For Putin, this experience is the occasion for a new militarism. My national interest [to the contrary] is peace.”
“The chief misfortune of my nation up to now has been that it hasn’t succeeded or learned to live outside of the state that oppresses it.” And now once again, he says, the Russian people can see that Putin views it as so alien to himself that he cannot even remember Pushkin’s story about the magnify goldfish.
If he knew that story, he would know that “after having established his own nation, he puts himself at risk of remaining with nothing at all. But my nation will take from the shelf Pushkin’s volume and laugh over the former Petersburg vice mayor who wanted to become the master of the sea and the father of a nonexistent and invented nation.”