Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Siberia will Not be a ‘Russian’ Republic, Zolotaryev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 30 – Many analysts suggest that ethnic Russian regions could emerge alongside non-Russian ones and that one of these Russian regions would be Siberia. But Yaroslav Zolotaryev says that even though most people in Siberia speak Russian, “it is impossible to call it ‘a Russian republic.’”

            Instead, the regionalist writer says, “Siberians can be considered as a European nation or even more than one” and that like Americans, Australians, Canadians and the British, a common or similar language between new countries and an old imperial center does not mean that they are members of the same ethnic group or nation (region.expert/siberian-federation/).

            Moreover, Zolotaryev says, “in view of the multi-national quality of the population of Siberia, any regionalization of it would inevitably put the nationality question on the agenda … [It] in no way can b divided into states on a purely territorial basis as for example the United States or Brazil.” 

            “Among Siberians have been preserved strong ethnic groups of the local population (including Slavic Old Residents),” the regionalist says; “and certain of these groups like the Buryats, the Sakha, and the Khakass already have a definite quasi-state status from Soviet times and will never give that up.”

            According to Zolotaryev, “the nation state continues to be the active model in the contemporary world: the European Union is a confederation of nation states.”  If some parts of its member states secede like the Scots or the Catalans, they would become independent nation states within the EU.

            “Regional and national identity are significant and an ever-growing factor of international politics and it will remain so in Siberia regardless of what its fate turns out to be.” And such a Siberian nation state “will in no way contradict the principle of the equality of rights of its residents independent of nationality.”

            He suggests that it will be necessary “to adapt the European model of preferences for titular nations.”  Citizens of any ethnic group will receive citizenship in Siberia if their territories are included in it. Their languages will be protected and developed. And local businesses will be protected against Muscovite or international investment.

            As far as the main language for Siberia is concerned, Zolotaryev says, the optimal outcome would be the revival of the dialect used in Siberia before the massive influx of ethnic Russians from European portions of the country. There have been efforts in that direction, and there will be more (http://region.expert/siberian-language/).

            That is because Siberians will have an interest in speaking a different language than the dictators in the Kremlin. And if the Siberian language is restored, he says, then the Sibiryaks will become an indigenous people with the save standing as “the Buryats, the Sakha, the Tuvins and the other native peoples of Siberia.” That doesn’t point to a future in which Siberia would be “a Russian republic.”

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