Staunton, August 7 – Now, Abbas Gallyamov says, “the Kremlin is portraying liberals protesting in Moscow as the most horrible enemies, but in actual fact, the real threats to the country are the nationalists – Tatar, Bashkir, Buryat, Sakha and so on” – and what is worse, Russian officials are only “adding fuel to this fire” by their policies and proposals.
Two years ago, the Moscow commentator and former Putin speechwriter says, Moscow infuriated the non-Russian republics by dropping the requirement that everyone living in them study the language of the titular nation. Now Kaluga governor Anatoly Artamonov has come up with an even more inflammatory idea (publizist.ru/blogs/112974/32321/-).
Recently, he proposed to his fellow governors the idea that Russia should mark the anniversary of the defeat of the Mongol Horde as a national holiday every year. If his idea is adopted, Gallyamov says, “the authorities will be giving a wonderful present to Tatar nationalists giving them another occasion to shout that ‘the Russians don’t love us!’”
At a time when there is a general growth in protest attitudes, the commentator continues, this would only add “more fuel to the fire.”
Everyone needs to understand that “small peoples are more sensitive to ethnic issues than are state-forming ethnoses. In their collective unconscious, here is always the threat of assimilation and disappearance from the face of the earth.” Consequently, they pay close attention to what the dominant groups do.
If Artamonov’s idea is accepted, one that celebrates “the victory of ‘the elder brother’ over ‘the lesser ones,’ this will not make inter-ethnic relations in Russia better.” Moreover, it will not only offend the Tatars, but the Kalmyks and Buryats as well who also “view themselves as descendants of the Mongols.”
When the USSR came apart, the future governor of Kaluga was 39, Gallyamov says. “He should remember how things were,” how the offenses that had built up exploded and put in the shadows everything positive about the past. Do he and those who think like him really want to repeat that?
“As is well-known, periodically the Kremlin assembles the governors and teaches them various useful skills like jumping from a rock or laying asphalt,” the commentator says. “It seems to me that it would be a better idea to replace these extreme games with a course in ethno-politics.”
The country would be far better served.