Staunton, June 17 – Andrey Pozdnyakov, a marketing specialist in Novosibirsk, says that Siberian regionalists are looking to and being inspired by the historical development of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine as alternatives to the centralized and authoritarian patterns of the development of the Russian state.
On the one hand, he says, in the course of discussion with publicist Dmitry Khodyavcheno and Tayga research company head Aleksandr Bayanov, Siberians in various places have been affected by the powerful regional korenizatsiya [“rooting’] that has occurred throughout Russia as people have travelled less to Moscow and more to their neighbors.
And on the other, a broader Siberian identity has emerged because of an increasing recognition that despite differences among its residents, they are united by “anti-Moscow attitudes” and see themselves as following in the tradition of Novgorod the Great and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (tayga.info/146980; excerpted in region.expert/siberia-identity/).
There is no question that a Siberian identity exists, Pozdnyakov says, citing the fundamental work of Novosibirsk scholars Alla Anisimova and Olga Yechevskaya (intelros.ru/readroom/laboratorium/c3-2013/18752-sibiryak-obschnost-nacionalnost-ili-sostoyanie-dushi.html).
But it is still very unequally developed, he acknowledges. “Tomsk residents identify as Tomsk residents; Irkutsk residents identify as Irkutsk residents; but Novosibirsk residents identify as Siberians,” because it is a younger city and one whose residents travel more in the region than they do to Moscow.
There has been a broader Siberian identity elsewhere but it has intensified in the last decade or so. The reason is simple: “anti-Moscow attitudes” reflecting the center’s taking so much more away from the region than it gives and ruling with an increasingly iron hand rather than democratically.
Pozdnyakov has attracted attention for lectures he has been giving in Novosibirsk about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the study of that alternative to Muscovite state traditions which has led him to learn Belarusian and see it as an alternative, along with Ukraine. All three nations, he stresses, have helped form Siberia because so many from them were exiled there.
What he and other Siberian regionalists are seeking to do is to recover that side of the history of Russia that was democratic and European and thus opposed to Muscovite authoritarianism and centralization. Such values unite not only Siberians but all those who have lived under Moscow’s control.