Friday, August 11, 2017

Russian Nationalist Wants to Split Up Sakha and Destroy Its Titular Nationality

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 10 – Ivan Vladimirov, who writes for the Russian nationalist portal Sputnik i Pogrom, argues that Sakha, which he calls by the Russian name Yakutia, is the only non-Russian area that threatens the formation of a truly Russian Russia and thus must be dismantled and its titular nationality assimilated.

            There is no indication that his specific ideas have wide currency in Moscow, but Vladimirov’s line of argument is simply a more extreme form of one that is often found in the Russian capital and thus provides a key to understanding what is at stake given Vladimir Putin’s now-stalled regional amalgamation program and his current ethnic and language policies.

            In his new article, Vladimirov argues that the only non-Russian republic that is large enough and wealthy enough to pose a problem for the creation of a Russian Russia is Sakha, an area as large as India and one richly endowed with enormous natural resources such as diamonds (

            Although ethnic Russians or at least non-Sakha dominate the regions where that wealth is extracted, the Sakha now make up a majority of the population again, a status they lost during Soviet times but have regained since as a result of Russian flight and higher birthrates among the indigenous people.

            That raises the specter that at some point Sakha nationalists will demand more control or even independence, the Russian writer says, and therefore “the Sakha Republic should not exist, just as other national-territorial formations should not. However, the simple renaming of it into the Lena/Yakutsk kray [as some have suggested] will not change the ethnic balance.”

            Instead, the republic needs to be suppressed and divided up with the economically important “Russian” areas handed off to other federal subjects in Siberia and the Russian Far East and the Sakha portions reduced to the status of “a grandiose reservation” where they can continue to exist at least for a time but won’t be a drain on Russian resources.

            But that is only a temporary and not a final solution to the “half-million Asiatic people in the middle reaches of the Lena,” Vladimirov continues.  What needs to happen, he suggests, is to push the Sakha to leave the region because if they do they will become very different people, far more ready to intermarry and far less interested in turning back to their ancient religions.

            In Sakha itself, only 7.8 percent of Sakha men and 9 percent of Sakha women have entered into ethnically mixed marriages. But among those who go elsewhere, these figures are dramatically higher: 73 percent and 78 percent respectively.  Moreover, the offspring of these marriages almost invariably choose to become Russian, Vladimirov says.

            He sums up his argument in the following way: “Sakha-Yakutia is a problem reigon, and the Yakuts are a problematic ethnos for the ethnic Russian character of the statehood of Russia. Therefore, these problems must be resolved in a complex fashion.”

            First of all, Vladimirov says, “Yaktia must not simply be transformed into an oblast but reduced in size or split up altogether,” with the diamond and other resource regions taken away from the titular nationality.

            Second, the Yakuts (Sakha) lest they retreat “into paganism,” must be integrated “into the Russian social system by means of migration throughout the country.” Outside of their home area, they will behave like Koreans or Chinese and that will only be a good thing.

            And third, “if however Russian-speaking Orthodox Yakuts will sometimes be assimilated into Russians via metisization this won’t be such a terrible thing” for Russians who are so much larger in number that they will gain the upper hand.

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