Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Russian Nationalist Says Non-Russian Republics with Ethnic Russian Majorities Must be Disbanded While Others Must be Supported

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 11 – A Russian nationalist has floated an idea that is superficially “democratic” but fundamentally imperialist and therefore remarkably like those hybrid ideas Vladimir Putin prefers. He says all non-Russian republics in which ethnic Russians form a majority must be disbanded while those with non-Russian majorities must be respected.

            Vladimir Basmanov, head of the Nation and Freedom Committee and secretary of the Central Organizing Committee for the Russian March, says that would be a democratic solution to the current intolerable situation because it would recognize the rights of the majority to run its own affairs in the federal subjects (idelreal.org/a/29608844.html).

            Under the terms of his proposal, the following non-Russian republics would be disbanded and their territories and populations amalgamated with neighboring predominantly ethnic Russian areas: Adygeya, Altai, Buryatia, Karelia, Khakassia, Komi, Mordvinia and Udmurtia. The other non-Russian republics would gain more state support and more autonomy.

            Basmanov is a frequent and harsh critic of Putin, but his idea is worthy of note because it is something that Putin might very well adopt in order to restart his currently stalled program to amalgamate the federal subjects, especially because its ostensibly democratic features would make it more difficult for democrats to criticize.

            But while it would be superficially democratic, such a program would in fact be profoundly imperialist, destroying the only protections some of these ethnic groups have and calling into the question the existence of other non-Russian republics as populations change or as the standard of “democracy” is applied.

            At the very least, radically multi-ethnic republics like Daghestan and all remaining bi-national republics (Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia) would be at risk as would those where the non-titular nationalities form a majority even if no one of them does as is the case in Bashkortostan.

            As such, Basmanov’s notion is worth keeping in mind because it is entirely possible that Putin or those close to him will pick up on it in the coming months, allowing the Kremlin leader to pick up support among some Russian nationalists by giving them something tangible as a result of coming down hard against the increasingly embattled non-Russians.

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