Saturday, January 21, 2017

‘People Ready to Die for Their Identities’ – Civic Nation Idea in Russia Could Spark Civil War as It Did in Ukraine, Moscow Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 21 – In its push for the creation of a civic Russian identity which plays down ethnicity, a Moscow commentator says, the Putin regime appears to have forgotten how important identities are to people and that Russians in Russia like Russians in Ukraine are “prepared to suffer losses or even death” to defend them, even to the point of civil war.

            In the latest issue of “Literaturnaya Rossiya,” often a mouthpiece for Russian nationalist thinking, Natalya Makeeva offers the most serious warning yet about what the imposition from above of a civic Russian national identity could mean by drawing a comparison with that in the Donbass (

            She points out something that she says many in Moscow don’t want to recognize: “the long-suffering Donbass” did not revolt when things were tough in the 1990s or when later it was subject to what she calls “’creeping Ukrainianization.’”  It only rose “when the Kyiv ‘Maidan’ proclaimed a new Ukrainian reality, the establishment of ‘a Ukrainian political nation.’”

            In Makeeva’s telling, “Crimea fled from this reality as did the Donetsk and Luhansk peoples republics and literally a few days ago the Rusins and Lviv which is closer to Poland and most likely with the completion of the collapse of the former Ukraine will join” that NATO country.

            As far as Russia is concerned, she continues, it is as Konstantin Leontyev said, “a flourishing imperial collection of ethnoses, peoples and cultures, the strategic unity in multiplicity.”  In such a country, talk about a civic national identity common for all is far more dangerous than many think.

            “And if we want to avoid the disintegration of Russia, we must not build a civic Russian nation and not drive the various ethnoses into ‘Russiannness’ but go in the opposite direction, toward an Empire by strengthening its unity by doing away with [the non-Russian republics and their  institutions].”

            Everyone must acknowledge, Makeeva says, that “Russia always was and however strange it may sound to some remains to this day.”  If that is ignored and if [Russia] proceeds along the path of civic Russianness, we will get a war much more terrible than the conflict in Novorossiya.”

                Makeeva’s words, however overblown and incorrectly focused they may seem, recall the conclusion of the great Russian émigré historian Igor Kurganov who more than a half century ago warned in his book “The Nations of the USSR and the Russian Question,” that what really matters in that country is not what the non-Russians do but rather how the Russians react.

No comments:

Post a Comment