Friday, October 4, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Ethnic Problems Pushing Russia toward the Germany of 1933 and the USSR of 1991, Journalist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 4 – The inter-ethnic situation in the Russian Federation is currently so bad and deteriorating so rapidly that the country faces “the horrors of Germany of 1933” and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, according to Vladimir Mukusev, a prominent Russian journalist.

            In an interview with VIPcomments and the Novy Region2 news agency, Mukusev argues that the government’s program for strengthening national unity is too small and that the funds allocated to it won’t be spent as intended.  This failure, he suggests, “can lead to very serious negative consequences” (

            According to the journalist, Russians are “again approaching the situation of the 1990s when the country stood before the necessity of making as its chief national project and not ‘one of many’ the national idea of the unity of the country.”  All the ethnic problems around the Russian Federation are not “local” issues but “the problem of the unity of the country.”

            That is because any one of clashes now viewed in isolation, Mukusev argues, could in the right circumstances trigger far larger problems for the country.

            He says that “the national republics within Russia under existing circumstances sooner or later will seek” independence.  “Serious nationalist circles in our Muslim countries, our states in parts of our Russia will say: ‘Enough! We do not want to hear” only about the Russians. “We have our own economy, our own statehood, our own language, our own religion.”

            Consequently, they will say, “Lord Moscow, go away from us as far as possible.” In order to avoid that outcome, he argues, Russia needs to set up a new ministry for nationality affairs. If it doesn’t, there is little that it can do to avoid disintegration.

            But that is not the only kind of ethnic threat Russia now faces. History has shown what happens to countries where “inter-ethnic conflicts are resolved by the creation of armed druzhinniki, storm troopers and the like.”  Such countries “pay in blood.” Unless Moscow intervenes in a most serious way, Russia could become “the Germany of 1933.”

            Those twin problems and the risk that both will get worse in the coming months are intensified by to other trends: the inevitability of an economic crisis because of Russia’s almost complete dependence on foreign countries for its economic well-being and the new outburst of political activism from below, especially in the regions.

            The mayoralty election in Moscow didn’t help Sergey Sobyanin much, but it has made Aleksey Navalny a political star even though he lost, and the vote for Yevgeny Royzman in Yekaterinburg shows that new political forces are emerging, forces that threaten the existing power arrangements and therefore are likely to provoke conflict.
            And Mukusev adds that a trigger may be the way in which the Sochi Olympics is being handled. Everyone wants to put the best face on things for visitors, but the process in this case has converted the Olympiad into “a field of battle for politicians.” There is probably little that can be done to stop this now, but Mukusev says people need to tep back and “stop this stupidity.”


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