And this tactic has one additional and perhaps even more insidious consequences: it encourages Russians to view non-Russians as people who dress up for special national days and perhaps have their own cuisines but who are not to be thought of as self-standing nations who may have a broader agenda for themselves and their children.
Tragically, that view of non-Russians has long existed not just in Russia but in the West as well. At the end of Soviet times, for example, the National Geographic Society in the United States put out a map of “The Peoples of the Soviet Union.” In addition to showing where they lived within the USSR, it showed them in national dress.
The Uzbek was shown wearing a long robe, the Ukrainian a distinctive embroidered dress, the Latvian a pre-1940 military uniform, and the Georgian a cherkesska, for example. The Russian, in contrast, was shown in a space suit. Not surprisingly, this map became infamous among specialists on the nationality question, but the attitudes it captures have not gone away.
Moscow recognizes this and is exploiting it to the hilt. Those who read about and welcome the developments among the numerically smallest peoples of the Russian Federation need to remember that fact and the fact that even as Moscow promotes these smaller groups it is doing exactly the reverse with larger ones.