Saturday, November 3, 2018

Sunday Could Well be Last Day of National Unity Because There is No Unity to Celebrate, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 2 – Rumors are flying ( that the Kremlin in the future dispense with the November 4 Day of National Unity altogether or shift it to March 18 where it would be combined with the Day of Crimea. Either action would be appropriate, Sergey Shelin says, because at present, “there is no unity” in Russia to celebrate.

            The Rosbalt commentator says  that doing that would be a “radically softened replacement of another project,” also rumored but uncertain to be achieved, annexing Belarus or Kazakhstan or both, in order to demonstrate the existence of Vladimir Putin’s much-ballyhooed “Russian world” (

                This year, the November 4 holiday will be marked but “more modestly than in past years, without marches, political meetings or a big show.” That in and of itself is a sign that the powers that be have decided that “the Day of Unity has fallen out of favor” and that it would be best to simply ignore it altogether.

                The events of 1612 remain cloudy for most Russians, and November 7th, the holiday that November 4th was created to displace, no longer has the allegiance or even interest of many, Shelin continues.  “There is no problem of competition” any more.  Worse, November 4th is on its way to becoming like the second-tier holidays like the Day of the Flag.

            What November 4th was intended to be about was the coming together of the people and the elite as did Minin and Pozharsky in order to stand up to foreign foes together, the Rosbalt commentator says. But over the last few years, the people have come to realize that the elites are not their allies and may even be their enemies, hardly the basis for unity.

            And in that situation, talking about unity has the effect of highlighting how little unity there now is and perhaps even exacerbating the situation by leading those who still feel something like unity to ask themselves why they do when so many others have already reached a negative conclusion.

            That is all the more likely, Shelin says, because “today’s princes Pozharsky aren’t ashamed of their wealth” and are interested only in extracting more from the population so that their own wealth will increase.  That can’t be hidden now as easily as it was during the “Crimea is ours” euphoria.

                The naked truth of the division is too obvious for all. “There is no unity” in Russia today, Shelin concludes. Staging a holiday that suggests otherwise won’t produce it. Instead, it will lead to more questions by more people of the kind the powers that be in the Kremlin don’t want anyone to ask. 

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