Staunton, October 1 – Vladimir Putin’s revival of the Soviet practice of assigning outsiders and ethnic Russians to non-Russian republics is generating anger among the latter and making the most dangerous kind of ethnic clash in Russia – that between Russians and non-Russians rather than among non-Russians – far more likely.
The Kremlin leader’s installation of Vladimir Vasilyev as head of Daghestan has not solved the problems there, but now the imposition of an ethnic Russian who has been working in the Moscow-controlled Donets Peoples Republic in Ukraine as mayor of Elista, the capital of Kalmykia has sparked massive protests (ndelo.ru/kalmykiia/kalmykiya-poshla-po-puti-dagestana).
The head of the republic, Batu Khasikov, nominated Dmitry Trapeznikov of Donetsk to be mayor of Elista, but people in the region believe that the Kremlin decided on the appointment possibly at the urging of Vladislav Surkov because Trapezhnikov was no longer welcome in that occupied Ukrainian region (nakanune.ru/articles/115520/svoboda.org/a/30193305.html).
Two days ago, residents of Elista went into the streets to demand that a local Kalmyk be mayor rather than an outsider Russian and then circulated a petition making the same demand. Khasikov made the situation worse by issuing a statement about how often outsiders and Russians had worked for Kalmykia (instagram.com/tv/B3AZYR5AyTI/?igshid=5yyo3ieh55xb).
The protests continue, and now Batyr Boormangayev, head of the Yabloko Party branch there, has come out in support of the demonstrators, blaming the Kremlin and republic leaders for “ignoring the national feelings of the Kalmyks” (eadaily.com/ru/news/2019/10/01/v-eliste-oppoziciya-izgonyala-buddiyskimi-mantrami-zlogo-duha-dnr and nazaccent.ru/content/31072-v-partii-yabloko-zayavili-chto-izbranie.html).
Kalmykia, a Buddhist republic in the northeastern corner of the North Caucasus, seldom gets much attention except as a curiosity; but it has a long history of resistance to Russian rule, its people were deported by Stalin, and currently people there are angry about the failure of the authorities to stop desertification or build port on the Caspian that would allow for development.