Saturday, November 3, 2018

Khakass Group Wants a Gubernatorial Candidate from Among Titular Nationality

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 2 – Ever since elections in the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation acquired any real meaning, commentators in both Moscow and the West have expressed concern about the possibility that the non-Russians will use these events to promote their own agendas and thus exacerbate ethnic tensions in the country. 

            Vladimir Putin, by banning national and regional parties and by coming down hard even on regionalist let alone nationalist agendas, has limited the opportunities for non-Russians to use elections for their own purposes; but a group in the small Turkic republic of Khakassia shows such groups still have a chance and that Moscow is worried about it.

            Yesterday, the Khakass Askhyr Youth Organization issued an appeal saying that it wanted  someone of Khakass nationality to run in the November 11 elections rather than be governed by outsiders or by ethnic Russians who outnumber them almost seven to one in that republic (

            “We say that we have worthy leaders and representatives of our people who are completely charismatic and strong personalities who can much better cope with the responsibilities of the head of the republic than any other variants,” the Internet appeal continued.

            The group plans to send delegates to various parts of the republic to try to find such people because “it is possible that the representative of the titular nation is the best leader.” Others have other motherlands, the appeal says; but “we have no other. We cannot whatever we want go somewhere else and be comfortable.”

            Nine days from now there will be a second round of the gubernatorial race in Khakassia because no one won an absolute majority of votes in the first round.  At present, given that all other candidates have withdrawn, the only remaining candidate is Valentina Konovalova of the KPRF.

            It might not seem unreasonable to most that local people would want a local candidate, but because nationality is involved, the reaction of Russians in Moscow and of their supporters in Abakan has been entirely predictable and predictably negative.  This is “a dangerous game,” they say (

            Local experts, like Abakan’s Tatyana Abdulova, say that the nationalists are unlikely to succeed. “Khakassia,” they insist, is “one of the most peaceful regions of the country as far as inter-ethnic tensions are concerned. But to test these relations in the final analysis is unrise and can lead to their breakdown.”

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