Staunton, June 27 – A month ago, Komsomolskaya Pravda’s edition for the North Caucasus published an interview with Russian nationalist Yegor Kholmorogov in which he said that Russia faces disintegration if it does not abolish the non-Russian republics. (For the text of his remarks, see natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=12007.)
The article sparked outrage among Circassian activists and scholars who pointed out that the nationalist was calling for the wholesale transformation of the country and thus must be disowned by the authorities or it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy (zapravakbr.ru/index.php/30-uncategorised/1467-tot-fakt-chto-v-nekotorykh-natsionalnykh-regionakh-predstaviteli-korennogo-naroda-sostavlyayut-menshinstvo-yavlyaetsya-sledstviem-zavoevanij-i-etnicheskikh-chistok).
The activists were encouraged when the newspaper took down his interview. That seemed to indicate that the authorities wanted to distance themselves from Kholmogorov’s program. But now, the Center for Countering Extremism of the Karacheyevo-Cherkess interior ministry has turned down their larger request.
Its chief, Kh.A. Laypanov said that his institution had examined Kholmogorov’s text for extremism and did not find anything of the kind. Instead, the commentator’s remarks “bear a historical character and touch on aspects of history, political science and social studies” (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=12049
The Karachayevo-Cherkess official was clearly speaking for more than himself and in clearing Kholmogorov of the crime of extremism, he also cleared him of charges concerning the Russian nationalists division of the peoples of the Russian Federation into “higher,” that is the ethnic Russians, and “lower,” that is everybody else.
When the Circassian activists filed their appeal, the Woman’s View from Nalchik blog noted that non-Russians are often accused of extremism and separatism but that if anyone cares to look, any separatism on offer has arisen because of the behavior of Russian officials who ignore their rights and thus provoke them (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/83787/posts/43523).
Because of the pandemic, no public protests are likely about this in the immediate future; but by coming to the defense of Kholmogorov and coming close to saying that what he argued in May is not unacceptable to the powers that be, the officials in Karachayevo-Cherkessia and undoubtedly those in Moscow behind them may be reap the whirlwind later this year.