Staunton, June 7 – Opposition to Vladimir Putin’s plan to make the study of all languages except Russian voluntary has sparked a level of opposition among non-Russians that “ignoring this anger would be extremely dangerous for the country because it has already split Russian society along nationality lines,” Denis Pisaryev writes in today’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
The Moscow commentator cites five reasons for this anger, reasons that he suggests Moscow will ignore only at its peril (ng.ru/ideas/2018-06-07/5_7241_conflict.html), a warning underscored by the outbreak of interethnic violence in the depths of the Russian Far East that could presage more elsewhere (dvnovosti.ru/khab/2018/06/05/83833/
According to a Tatar commentator, “it seems to me that we stand at the brink of a grandiose conflict. Language contradictions are the main line of division in a multi-national state. In my view,” he says, “we have an outstanding Constitution from the point of view of the observation of the rights and interests of all ethno-linguistic communities.”
“But the authorities instead of implementing its provisions,” Amil Sarkarov says, “are acting in the opposite direction. I am ever less inclined to believe that the current bill will enter into force, but if that all the same happens, then any prophylactic measures for preserving inter-ethnnic peace will turn out to be powerless.”
That is because, Sarkarov says, “the line of division will become so deep” that no “bindings” will hold things together unless this “anti-constitutional law” is repealed.
That this could lead to violent clashes between nationalities is all too real a possibility. Indeed, in a Nanay village in Khabarovsk Kray, ethnic Russians in masks have attacked members of this nationality; and its members in response have threatened to take up arms against these people if the authorities continue to do nothing to stop them.
That this is an ethnic conflict and not simply a clash between Russian criminals and members of a numerically small people of the North who occupy valuable land is suggested by several commentaries attached to the original article. Among them, one stands out: “Don’t forget [the Nanais] are local residents, and we here are guests.”
“In the years of the war and the construction of Komsomolsk [-na-Amure] how much they helped the Russians! And now think what hatred they have for us!”