Friday, October 28, 2016

Sakha, Chukotka, and Nenetsia Must be ‘Immediately’ Suppressed and Subordinated to Ethnic Russian Regions, Writer Says

Paul Goble     

            Staunton, October 28 – Russian reaction to the decision of the Sakha Constitutional Court declaring that republic the homeland of the Sakha people was not long in coming. Not only did it provoke new calls for declaring Russians “the state-forming nation” of Russia but it has now led to demands that Sakha and other non-Russian entities in the North be suppressed.

            (On the Sakha court decision, see On the new calls to have ethnic Russians declared the state-forming nation of Russia in the past and the Russian Federation now, see

            Andrey Arkhipov, an observer for Moscow’s “President” newspaper, is calling for the Federal Assembly of Russia to “liquidate ‘the Republic of Yakutia,’ ‘the Chukchi autonomous district,’ and ‘the Nenets autonomous district immediately” in response to the Sakha court (

            Time is of the essence, he argues, because “the issue of the dismemberment of Russia has not been removed from the agenda. The nationality question (the Russian question) is the weakest side in the unstable political construction of the Russian Federation, a large part of whose territory is made up of ‘republics’ and ‘national autonomies.’”

            Nowhere is this more true than in Russia’s Far North, Arkhipov says, where Stalin as a result of his hatred of the Russian people created almost from whole cloth republics for peoples who had never existed as conscious groups and who, according to him, could not function without the presence of Russians. 

            “All the cities and settlements of the so-called ‘Yakut’ territory were created by Russian settlers and explorers. There is no evidence and cannot be any that the nomadic peoples played any role in this,” Arkhipov says, adding that documents about the creation of the Yakut Republic were all later inventions.

            He quotes the words of the Russian Wikipedia that Yakutia is “the largest region of the Russian Federation, the largest administrative territorial unit in the world, larger than Kazakhstan, the second largest country in the CIS, and larger than Argentina, the eighth largest country in the world.”

             But despite its enormous size, Wikipedia says, “the population of Yakutia is less than a million which makes it population density one of the lowest in Russia. A lower density have only the Chukotky and Nenets autonomous districts.”

            What this means, Arkhipov says, is that “we have within the Russian Federation an enormous territory which inn fact has begun a movement to EXIT out of the state” and that it is necessary for Moscow to take action to block such efforts. According to him, Sakha and its neighbors should simply be suppressed “without any referendum or voting.”

            And then they should be combined in neighboring federal subjects “populated by Russian people” and divided up in such a way that the non-Russians won’t be able to pose a challenge even at the local level. Doing that will correct one of the most serious mistakes Russia inherited from Soviet times.

            President Putin, Arkhipov points out, has said that this inheritance represents “a delayed action mine” under the country.  That mine must be “liquidated” now, and this process must “begin with the North of Russia” by means of “the liquidation of mythical states and autonomies comprising the North of Russia.”

            “There is no doubt,” he concludes, “that both houses of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation by an overwhelming vote will quickly and decisively draft and vote for a corresponding package of documents just as was the case with the re-unification of Crimea with Russia.”

            Even though such a move would face opposition from the larger republics, Arkhipov’s words are worrisome now for three reasons: he is the focusing on groups in the North who often have gotten in the way of Russian companies, he is linking his call to that of Russians who want their nation to be declared a state forming people of the country, and he is invoking what for many is the still-popular Crimean precedent.

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