Wednesday, October 4, 2023

After North Caucasian Protests, Kremlin Appears to Have Backed Down on History Textbooks

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 1 – When Moscow released a new history textbook which contained language about the deportations of North Caucasians at variance with the historical record and highly offensive to the nations involved, North Caucasians denounced the text and demanded that the text be changed (

            Now, if a report in The Magas Times is to be believed, the Kremlin has backed down and agreed to alternative language that will go a long way to meeting the objections of the North Caucasians ( and

            It is far from clear what will happen next. Will the printed textbooks be pulped or an insert prepared? Will this affect textbooks for North Caucasian schools alone but not those in other parts of the country? Or is this simply a PR effort to calm people in the regions that Moscow has no real plans to follow through on?

            But a comparison of the two texts, the first as published in the history textbooks and the second which The Magas Times says the Presidential Administration has agreed to represents a rare case in which the nations of the North Caucasus have defended themselves against the Kremlin and the Kremlin has decided the best course of action is to back down.

            Below are the two texts, the first from the books as published; and the second, a version that the Kremlin reportedly has agreed to.

The original textbook version:

“Based on the facts of cooperation with the occupiers of the Karachais, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars in 1943-1944, the State Defense Committee decided to liquidate the state formations of these peoples within the USSR and subject them to collective punishment - forced relocation (deportation) to the eastern regions of the country As a result, not only bandits and collaborators of the enemy were repressed, but also many innocent people. The settlers had to endure many troubles and hardships. Justice for them was restored after 1953."


The substitute version the Presidential Administration reportedly has agreed to:

“A tragic page in the history of the Great Patriotic War was the mass eviction of peoples in 1941-1944, in conditions of proximity to the front and military operations, indiscriminately accused by the State Defense Committee of treason. Twelve peoples were subjected to forced relocation (deportation), who lost not only their native lands but also national-territorial autonomies that the majority had. In the shortest possible time, hundreds of thousands of people were deported under escort to the other end of the country - to Siberia and Central Asia. Along with individual renegades and traitors, masses of completely innocent and loyal people, including those who fought in the Red Army, suffered. The settlers had to endure many troubles and hardships. Justice was gradually restored in 1957-2014. In the USSR, and then in the Russian Federation, repressions against entire peoples were condemned and measures were developed for their complete rehabilitation."


Low Quality of Life, Not Lack of Economic Growth, Triggering Population Flight from Siberia and Russian Far East

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 1 – Many officials assume that if the economy of a region is doing relatively well, people will want to stay there; but in fact, unless economic growth translates into an improved quality of life for the population, people will want to leave. That is what is happening in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

            There, the overall economic numbers are not bad, economists say; but they haven’t translated into improvements in the quality of life of residents. As a result, people are leaving in droves, few are being attracted to come there, and almost half of the people in some federal subjects there say they want to leave (

            Putin and the Kremlin have celebrated the growth of economic enterprises in Siberia and the Far East but failed to recognize that that trend will mean little if the population doesn’t feel that its life is improving and decides to leave. Indeed, that pattern creates a serious security problem for Russia as a whole.

            Social pathologies arise from this situation, experts say. In six of the 13 subjects of the Siberian macro-region, they report, the share of those suffering from alcoholism and drug dependence is significantly higher than the all-Russian average. Also, the use of tobacco is higher in 11; and in nine, the share of HIV infected exceeds the rate of the country as a whole.

            Tragically, Moscow’s policy has been to promote economic growth but do little to improve the quality of life of the population, a policy that has drawn fire from experts but shows little sign of being changed. As a result, the current economic growth east of the Urals is unlikely to be sustainable in the future.

A Critically Important Source on Russian Society – the Higher School of Economics’ Longitudinal Monitoring Study of Social Change

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 1 – Since the early 1990s, the Higher School of Economics has been conducting a panel study of Russian behavior, asking the same individuals about how they are living and reacting to the numerous and large changes that have taken place in their country over the last 30 years.

            The data base that has been collected has become the basis for more than 3500 research studies given that much of the data from this panel study is not available any other way, including from official sources. (For the data set, see and; on the project,

            Fifty-seven percent of the studies using this data have been in Russia, while 41 percent have been in English. And they often provide insights into issues for which there is no other good source and about life in regions far from the Russian capitals. But perhaps the most important aspect of this panel study has been the possibility of dividing the population into control groups and those most effected by changes and policies.

            Because the HSE investigators have identified those they speak according to so many parameters, it is relatively easy for researchers using this data base to treat one group of people as a control group and others as the targets of change and policy, thus allowing scholars to identify how such changes have affected the population as a whole.

‘Foreign Agent’ Label Russian Equivalent of ‘Banned in Boston’ for Writers – a Guarantee of Success

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 1 – Russian writers are desperate to be labelled “foreign agents.” As in the US, where “banned in Boston” once guaranteed success, so being called a foreign agent in Putin’s Russia is the surest path to success, an ironic Russian commentary on one of Putin’s most prominent campaigns.

            That anecdote is just one of the stories Russians are telling each other that have been online by Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova ( Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       Another success for Putin: he wants to destroy the US dollar as the international trading currency, but last month the dollar rose to a record 48 percent for such settlements.

·       Putin has told the health ministry to find domestically produced continuous glucose monitoring devices for diabetics within a week, but he hasn’t told them where these are to be found. Sort of like those in some Soviet novels who were sent out to find communism somewhere in Russia.

·       Russians needn’t ask how are you because they all live in the same country.

·       Putin’s press spokesman has stopped stupid questions from journalists by announcing that he isn’t interested in politics.

·       It now would be interesting to publish a short list of things for which Russians won’t be imprisoned instead of the growing list of those they will be sentenced to serve time behind bars.

·       If you don’t buy anything, then prices in Russia are indeed stable.

·       Russians have good reason to welcome the growing dominance of China in their country. After all, the Communist Party of China will never allow Ramzan Kadyrov to impose shariat law on Russians.

·       VTsIOM says that more than 70 percent of Russians trust Putin, but it doesn’t say how many Russians trust VTsIOM.


Rapidly Accumulating ‘Dark Energy’ in the Russian Population Forces Everyone to Take Apocalyptic Predictions Seriously, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 1 – One of the striking features of the Russian scene today is that in thinking about the post-Putin future, the expert community is generally calm and predicts that the future will be like today while media commentators are increasingly apocalyptic, predicting radical change and even the disintegration of Russia, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            Over all, the London-based Russian analyst says, the expert community makes the more persuasive case; but, he adds, “there is one thing that makes [him] listen to the alarming prophecies” of the commentators – and “that something is the dark energy of the masses” (

            A century ago, Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev referred to this energy as “’the dark wine of Russian history,’ something which periodically ‘spills over’ into the bloody sea of a Russian revolution.” Some dismiss his words; but Pastukhov argues that there are compelling reasons for taking him seriously.

            “In Berdyaev’s time,” the analyst says, “we did not yet have such detailed ideas about the universe as we do today. We now know that 70 percent of the mass of the universe is ‘dark energy’ abut which we know nothing. That notion can easily be extrapolated to any society,” including the Russian.

            “For many decades, we have been observing the accumulation of this ‘dark energy’ in Russia,” Pastukhov says. “If at first this was a gradual process, now at a time of war, it is working like ‘a hellish thermonuclear reactor’ producing the equivalent of megabytes of this ‘dark energy’ every second.”

            At present, “we see how this energy is being produced; but we do not see how it is being spent. And that means it is accumulating in some giant historical capacitor ready at any moment to be discharged by the electric arc of chaos.” Those optimistic about Russia’s future should be taking this danger into account.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Ingermanlanders Want Their Nation to Survive and Feel They have to Escape Russia to Do So But Fear Pressing for Independence Lest that Spark More Repressions, Parkkinen Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 30 – Susanna Parkkinen, an Ingermanland Finn who is creating a museum in Lapland for all Finnish diaspora groups, says that the members of her name want it to survive and feel they have to escape from Russia to do so but at the same time they fear pressing for independence lest they cause Moscow to repress them further.

            Such feelings have intensified, she says, since the start of Russia’s expanded invasion of Ukraine and they reflect the conflicted situation Ingermanland Finns who live in Leningrad Oblast feel, simultaneously fearful of their nation being destroyed and frightened about the possibility that repressions against their number will intensify.

            The conflicted feelings many Ingermanlanders have undoubtedly are found in other groups but are often ignored with some attending only to one of these two feelings rather than to the way in which they combine ( reposted at

Bashkir Activist Ready to Give Up Territory Now within His Republic to Gain Land Bridge to Kazakhstan and Boost Prospects for Independence

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 30 – One indication of the seriousness of those activists pursuing the independence of even non-Russian republics is that they are now talking about the borders their lands should have once they succeed in gaining independence. What is striking is that some are prepared to give up territory to exchange for other land to make such aspirations more realistic.

            A key example of this involved Todar Baktemir, a Bashkir activist who is part of the spreading de-colonization movement in the Middle Volga. He says Bashkirs must be prepared to give up some of the lands now within the borders of their Moscow-delimited republic to achieve two goals (

            First, he argues, Bashkirs should give up territories in which Bashkirs are a minority or soon will be to ensure that their future nation state will be more heavily Bashkir than would otherwise be the case. And second, he continues, they must do so to have something to exchange with Russians to get back historically Bashkir lands that the Soviets took from them.

            Those lands are mostly but not exclusively in what is now Orenburg Oblast, an area between Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan and known to activists and supporters as the Orenburg corridor. If that area were to be returned to the Bashkirs, both they and the peoples of the Middle Volga would have an external border and have greater prospects for independence.  

            (For background on this corridor and about Moscow’s alarm concerning Ukrainian and American interest in it, see,,,,, and

            How much support Bektemir’s proposal has is unknown. (For criticism of his ideas, see the writings of Ruslan Gabbasov, a Bashkir activist now living in Lithuanian exile ( But their appearance is suggestive of the greater independence non-Russians have in their thinking than Russians do (