Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Moscow Starting to Focus on Regional Identities among Ethnic Russians

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 13 – There are few subjects that Russian government officials appear more sensitive to than any suggestion that the people Moscow calls the Great Russian nation are in fact internally splinted along regional lines, with some of these identities, such as the Siberian, being as strong or stronger for their followers than the Russian.

            Such attitudes are especially lively at a time when many in Moscow are still insisting that Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians are a single nation, torn apart by the machinations of foreign powers and that it is Russia’s responsibility to reunite the three into a single nation and a single state.

            And they have intensified of late not only because of regionalist movements and the activities of the various Cossack hosts but also by suggestions by Ukraine that there are parts of the Russian Federation that are not really Russian, Moscow’s claims notwithstanding (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/09/window-on-eurasia-ukrainians-in-kyiv.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/05/kuban-might-pursue-independence-but.html).

            All this makes an announcement today about a scholarly plans for an expedition to Krasnodar Kray in July to investigate what the scholars from the Russian State Humanities University call, not surprisingly in quotation marks, the “Kuban” identity of the population there (nazaccent.ru/content/24359-uchenye-otpravyatsya-v-ekspediciyu-dlya-issledovaniya.html).

            According to the organizers of this expedition, “Krasnodar Kray is interesting as a multi-cultural region whose uniqueness is defined by the significant presence in the region of the Cossacks” and that this has led to “the formation of a special ‘Kuban’ identity” that embraces not only those typically called Russians but also Assyrians, Poles, and Germans.”

            (For a discussion on the general issue of regional identities within Russia and the fears Moscow has about them, see the current author’s “Regionalism – the Nationalism of the Next Russian Revolution” (in Russian) at afterempire.info/2016/12/28/regionalism/.)

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