Saturday, July 4, 2020

New Book Says Moscow to ‘Restructure’ Nationality Arrangements over Next Five Years

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 3 – A new Moscow book on Strategy of the Putin Era devotes one of its chapters to nationality policy. Prepared by two well-connected scholars, the book says, the Nazaccent portal reports, that the Kremlin plans to “restructure” over the next five years the way in which nationalities are treated and the arrangements for the elaboration of nationality policy.

            A text of the chapter is not yet available, but the standing of the authors, Sergey Kandybovich,of the Russian Academy of Education and Oksana Solopova, head of Moscow State University’s Laboratory for the History of Diasporas, compels attention to the hints Nazaccent offers (

            Because the country is a multi-national one, no Russian government can fail to articulate a nationality policy, they write. Sometimes Moscow has been effective and sometimes not, sometimes it has policy statements that are more declarative than analytic, as happened in the 1996 nationality policy strategy.
            Now, the two writers say, the government has gone beyond that and “the strategy of the state nationality policy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025 designates the restructuring of the system of government institutions in the sphere of nationality policy and th e process of changing the meaning of its basic provisions.”

            The existing system, the two write according to Nazaccent, allows for monitoring and controlling the situation, especially the government’s monitoring system in the sphere of inter-ethnic relations.”  Obviously, such a sketchy description allows for a broad range of possibilities ranging from the maintenance of what is to radical changes.

            But even these words do permit three conclusions. First, the system of monitoring that was developed by Academician Valery Tishkov is likely to continue and be increasingly integrated into government planning. Given the former nationalities minister’s views, that may not be good news for the republics and non-Russians generally.

            `Second, while Putin has not talked a great deal about nationality policy as such, preferring to focus only on key aspects of it, the appearance of this book suggests that a new and broader nationality policy is being discussed, one that may be far more radical than anything to date under Putin, again something that could work very much against the republics in particular.

            And third, the fact that two specialists on diasporas are the authors – Kandybovich heads the Belarusian national cultural autonomy in Russia and Solopova is perhaps Russia’s leading student of diasporas as such – Moscow may be focusing more on that channel of influence than in the past, trying to exploit it or restrict it depending on particular cases.

            If this last surmise is correct, many diaspora groups including ethnic Russian ones could find them the subject of greater attention from Moscow as it works to elaborate a new and more ramified nationality policy. 

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