Saturday, March 3, 2018

Nationality Policy Not Central to Russia’s Presidential Candidates but Immigration Is

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 3 – Most of the eight candidates for Russian president have devoted remarkably little attention to the usual issues usually labeled “nationality policy,” but almost all of them have focused on what is one of the most hot-button issues, how to handle migration from abroad and in some cases migration within the Russian Federation.

            Given that there is no doubt about Vladimir Putin’s victory, it may seem less than useful to focus on these issues; but the NazAccent portal, by providing a brief description of the candidates’ positions on them highlights what those running think may win them votes on March 18 (

            Alphabetically, the candidates have taken the following positions in this area:

·         Sergey Baburin, founder of the national conservative party the Russian All-Peoples Union, calls for the development of the cultures and languages of “all the fraternal peoples of Russia … on the basis of common spiritual valus and the all-national ethnic Russian mentality.” He calls for new restrictions on immigrant workers and new controls on domestic migration as well.

·         Pavel Grudinin, a sovkhoz director who is the candidate of the KPRF, devotes only one of his planks to ethnic issues and that only indirectly. He calls for broadening the competence of judges in cases involving extremism.

·         Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR wants to change the preamble of the constitution to read “We, [ethnic] Russians and other peoples of Russia,” the adoption of a new law defending the Russian language, the repeal of Article 282, and the formation of an Institute of the History of the Destruction of the Russian People in the 20th Century. He also calls for amalgamating federal subjects and eliminating non-Russian republics. 

·         Vladimir Putin, the incumbent, hasn’t put out a program, but his supporters are convinced that he believes nationality problems can best be solved indirectly through the solution of social problems.

·         Kseniya Sobchak of the Civic Initiative Party calls for a federal power-sharing treaty between Moscow and the republics, elimination of Articles 280 and 282, and tighter regulation of immigration.  She wants to expand efforts to encourage compatriots to return to Russia.

·         Maksim Suraykin, the Communists of Russia candidate, wants to restore the USSR with a lightly updated Soviet nationality policy.

·         Boris Titov of the Party of Growth calls for appealing to Russian-speakers in the former Soviet space to come to Russia.

·         Grigory Yavlinsky of Yabloko calls for providing state aid to national cultural autonomies, restoring the Federal Migration Service, granting a migration “amnesty,” and ending all discrimination against migrants on the basis of ethnicity.

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