Monday, July 9, 2018

Moscow Must Fight Ethnic Separatism among Northern Peoples Outsiders are Promoting, ‘Cyrillitsa’ Editor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 8 – Because of the natural wealth of the Arctic region and because global warming is making it ever more accessible, the Arctic may soon become “a hot spot” like the Middle East with various outside powers contending for influence and control, according to Olga Ikonnikova, the editor of the Russian nationalist Cyrillitsa portal.

            But even before that happens, she continues, “the Russian part of the Arctic, of course not without the assistance of democratic political technologies, could be seized by separatist attitudes,” a threat Moscow must treat seriously and take immediate steps to combat (

                Most people believe that the issue of the status of the indigenous peoples was “solve” long ago, Ikonnikova says; but one need only glance at “the behavior of our neighbors who also are in the Arctic Club (the US, Norway and Finland) to see that the problems of the numerically small peoples in particular of the North are still being raised.”

            “Our Arctic partners,” she continues, “are already step by step preparing their own information space in order to provide help to the unhappy Russian Nentsy, Chukchis, or Saami to escape from ‘the oppression of the Russian enslavers.”

            “Of course, I am exaggerating,” Ikonnikova says; “but if you devote close attention to articles in Finnish and Norwegian newspapers devoted for some reason to the way of life and activities of the numerically small peoples of the Russian North, then everything Russian in these materials will be described only in a negative way.”

            The leaders of the regions of the Russian North “must devote the closest possible attention” to such articles in order to figure out what outsiders are planning. “Otherwise,” the editor says, “at a most serious moment, we will obtain on our territory analogues to the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People whom the Norwegian and Finnish neighbors will help with joy.”

            Counterpropaganda is not enough, she says. “Active measures” are needed. Among the most important is to ensure that local officials provide the numerically small peoples of the North with all the benefits that federal legislation provides, including deferments from the draft, special funding, and various kinds of affirmative action.

            Russia has a good record in taking care of the Northern peoples, she says; but it is important that this be continued. If it isn’t, other Arctic powers will take advantage of the situation and promote separatism not for the benefits of these people but exclusively for themselves.

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