Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Calling Russians the State-Forming Nation Intensifying Alienation and Separatism in North Caucasus, Three Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 12 – Magomed Magomedov, the editor of Daghestan’s Chernovik, Akhmet Yarlykapov, an MGIMO specialist on the Caucasus, and Boris Makarenko of the Moscow Institute of Contemporary Development, all say tans to include in the Constitution a reference to Russians as the state-forming nation are already proving counterproductive.

            Magomedov says that amending the constitution and calling the Russians the state forming people is “the first step to the formation of a unitary state.” As such, this language “can be used by radicals and extremists to destabilize the situation.” From now on, all issues in the republics will be viewed through this prism (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/346997/).

            Hitherto, he continues, the constitution was a federal one that posited that the country was formed by a group of nations with equal rights. Now there are two classes, the Russians at the center who put the country together and everyone else. That makes a mockery of any talk of a federal system.

            Yarlykapov agrees and says that radicals are already using this language to undermine the situation. He says he doesn’t expect a military conflict but rather “the further alienation” of the peoples of the Caucasus from the federal center. “There won’t be a third Chechen war.” But these new tensions can lead to “unexpected consequences.”

            At the very least, he says, such attitudes will make it far more difficult to “consolidate” the civic Russian nation and may lead to its further “fragmentation.” Because that is the case, it is difficult to understand what those who are behind the insertion of this term in the basic law thought they were doing.

            Makarkin comes at the issue slightly differently but also suggests it will do more harm than good. The phrase itself won’t change much, he argues; but the way it may be used by some could change the situation fundamentally.  It clearly “won’t solve any positive problem, but will give rise to a reaction.”

            And he suggests that it will give rise to far more serious feelings than the “’vegetarian’” ones that were behind anti-Russian attitudes in the North Caucasus in Soviet times. Unlike the Soviets who promoted languages, cultures and histories “within definite limits,” the current Russian government is attacking them head on and can expect a harsh response.

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