Monday, October 29, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Russian Federation’s ‘Imperial Nature’ Alienating That Country’s Neighbors, Ukrainian Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 29 – The integration of all or part of the post-Soviet space under Moscow’s leadership is impossible unless or until the Russian Federation overcomes its own “imperial” nature at home and treats all of Russia’s republics and regions equally and with respect, according to a Ukrainian political analyst.

            But despite Vitaly Pornikov’s warning that “no real union of Ukraine and Russia will be possible until the Russian state overcomes its imperial complex,” some Russian politicians and Russians in the republics are moving in exactly the opposite direction, seeking to make Russia more “imperial” and more unattractive to non-Russians both within and beyond its borders.

            “Today,” Portnikov says, “there exists the most serious lack of understanding among the citizens of Russia themselves. Because for an individual who comes from Moscowfrom Makhachkala, Grozny or even Kazan, this is his capital in which he completely naturally may behave as at home” ( ).

                “But for a Muscovite of Russian origin, this individual is a guest who must take into consideration the views of the Muscovite about home and traditions.”  And that in turn, the Ukrainian analyst says, contributes to “the most serious dissonance, because beyond any doubt, the capital of a Daghestani is Makhachkala, the capital of a Tatar, Kazan, and the capital for a Chechen, Grozny.”

            Moscow for all these groups is “the capital for those who live in central Russia and [ethnic] Russian regions of the country.  This is normal and natural, but no one wants to say this aloud, because for this, it would be necessary to transform the Russian Federation into a union of state formations,” something Moscow’s leaders are not willing to contemplate.

            Unless that happens, the Russian Federation will continue to alienate not only non-Russians living within its borders but also the non-Russian countries around its borders.  And ultimately, the failure of the Russian Federation to become itself “a union of state formations” will lead “sooner or later” to the undermining of Russian statehood.

            However that may be, some Russian politicians and some ethnic Russians appear committed to moving in the opposite direction.  On Saturday, Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire behind the Civic Platform, called for the abolition of the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation (

                “The Stalinist and Leninist system of dividing [Russia] into national republics,” he said, “is ineffective in the 21st century.” Consequently, it should be abolished even if it requires, as would clearly be the case, “changes of the Constitution and the radical change of the budgetary system.”

            Meanwhile, two other groups in Russia attacked that country’scurrent system of ethno-federalism. A survey found that Muscovites “do not want to pay taxes” for other parts of the country, the other side of the coin of regional objections to Moscow’s control of their lives (

            And more seriously, groups of ethnic Russians in non-Russian regions of the Middle Volga have organized to protest requirements that their children learn the language of the titular nationality, something leaves them with less time to study the Russian language they need more generally (  and

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