Staunton, December 10 – Non-Russians were the first to criticize the Putin-backed idea of a law that would define the residents of the Russian Federation as a non-ethnic Russian nation (rossiiskaya natsiya), fearing that such legislation would lead to more discrimination against them and a further attack on the status of their communities and republics.
Now, ethnic Russians are joining the chorus, denouncing this legislative proposal as both a continuation of Leninist nationality policy and the adoption of the American “melting pot” model and thus a direct threat to the nature of the ethnic Russian nation (russkaya natsiya) and ultimately a threat to the territorial integrity of the country.
Two such Russian attacks this week on the proposed law now being drafted and discussed in the Duma are especially important in that they lay out the reasons in detail for ethnic Russian fears about what such legislation will mean for the majority of the population of the country.
The first came on Wednesday at a meeting of the Russian nationalist Russian Assembly that was held at the building of the Union of Writers of Russia. Three presentations were especially significant about the legislation and the consequences of its possible adoption (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2016/12/09/politizaciya_russkoj_etnichnosti_privedet_k_raspadu_rossii/
On the Svobodnaya pressa portal yesterday, Moscow commentator Viktor Militaryev also addressed these issues but focused more closely on what he said were the views standing behind the idea of a law among the powers that be and also among the expert community (http://svpressa.ru/society/article/162360/).
He argued that the two groups were supporting a law on the Russian nation for very different reasons and that each of these has serious shortcomings. The powers that be are convinced that “without positive discrimination in favor of the national minorities, stability in the country may break down.”
In contrast, the theoreticians from the expert community behind the law support the idea for “internationalist” reasons. They believe, Militaryev says, that “it is necessary to be more concerned about the national minorities than about the people which forms the majority of the population.”
The position of the powers that be, he argues, is internally inconsistent because it has led the regime to take steps that threaten to create the very problem it assumes exists – and the newly proposed law is no exception. But that of the experts behind the law is “much more dangerous” because it suggests that the Russians must always be engaged in expiating for crimes of the past.
Both groups are thus engaged in actions that are having “more negative than positive” consequences. First of all, because the authorities and the experts in a shameful way conceal what they are doing, Russians believe that “the authorities are carrying out a policy of conscious discrimination of ethnic Russians in favor of the national minoriites.”
“This ‘impression’ in no way contributes to inter-ethnic peace in Russia.”
Second, such a measure as the new draft law makes it more difficult for the country to move in the direction it should be going in: ending “positive discrimination in favor of national minorities” where it exists and ensuring “the complete equality of all citizens of the Russian Federation independent of their ethnic membership.”
Third, the new law also makes it more difficult for people to recognize that “alongside the recognition of the rights of ethnic minorities of Russia to develop their national cultures,” the Russian state should be “constructed on the basis of ‘mono-culturalism’ of ethnic Russian culture.”
And fourth, Militaryev said, in place of the law, Russians need to stop using the offensive “bureaucratic phraseology” behind it. “Let us once and for all,” he said, “learn by heart: we are not ‘the multi-national people of Russia,’ but simply ‘the people of Russia,’ and not ‘a non-ethnic Russian nation,’ but ‘ethnic Russians and other peoples of Russia.’”