Monday, January 25, 2016

Putin-Inspired Talk about Doing Away with Non-Russian Republics Will Itself Kill Russia, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 25 – Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Lenin bears responsibility for the disintegration of the Soviet Union because of the USSR founder’s insistence that union republics should have the right to secede not surprisingly has sparked calls for doing away with the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation  before they can have the same result.

            An article by Russian nationalist commentator Pavel Svyatenkov is typical: He argues that even Stalin’s “autonomization” plan which Lenin rejected gave the non-Russians too much and the ethnic Russians too little and thus its continued application constitutes a threat to the Russian Federation now (

            Indeed, just how much Putin’s words reflect a more general attitude among Russians is indicated by the reaction of Igor Beloborodov, a researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), to plans by the Federal Agency for Nationality Policy to create a registry of the country’s smallest nationalities (

            That is all well and good, he says. “However, we must not forget also about the key ethnic groups of the population. One is speaking of the ethnic Russian population. It is important to undertake all measures for the support of the Russian ethnos lest it pass into the ranks of the numerically small.”

            In a comment on the portal today entitled “’E’ as in Euthanasia,” Yevgeny Ikhlov links calls like those of Svyatenkov to Putin’s words and even says that he favors the broadest possible discussion of doing away with the non-Russian republics. Such a discussion, he says, will have some interesting lessons (

            He suggests three in particular. First, he says, it will be discovered that Lenin extended the idea of the right of self-determination to the point of separation “only to those nations which were given by the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) the designation as titular peoples of the union republics” and to no one else.

            “The Russian people,” he points out, “used this right a quarter of a century ago.”

            Second, discussions about the future of the non-Russian republics within the Russian Federation will inevitably point to something many in Moscow might prefer to forget: When Kremlin propagandists began arguing that “Ukrainians are not a nation” and the invention of Austrian and German “special services” and Kaganovich, “the effect of this propaganda was destruction: for ‘the Russian world’ and all other neo-pan-Slavist delirium.”

            And third, deciding to kill off the non-Russian republics within the Russian Federation,” the latest example of “dying Putinism,” will lead to “the euthanasia of the state,” to the death of Russia as such.

            “I would love to see – on CNN–“ he says, “the reaction to an announcement in Makachkala about the doing away with Daghestan and its conversion into a Trans-Caspian oblast. Or in Grozny about the transformation of Chechnya into Terek oblast. Or in Kazan to reports about the dissolution of Tatarstan and the creation of some Middle Volga oblast.”

            Ikhlov doesn’t say and people like Putin and Svyatenkov don’t understand a fundamental fact about the demise of the USSR: It didn’t fall apart because Moscow went too far in giving powers to the republics; it fell into pieces because after Moscow had given such powers, it tried to take them back too quickly.

            Putin may believe that his power vertical will save him and Russia from that fate, but loose talk about destroying Daghestan, Chechnya and Tatarstan almost certainly prove him wrong. And future historians will then conclude that it wasn’t Lenin who destroyed the Russian Federation but rather Vladimir Putin who failed to learn the lessons of 1991.


No comments:

Post a Comment