Staunton, December 29 – One of Moscow’s biggest fears is now coming true: some non-Russians are copying what other non-Russians are demanding and not just within broader ethnic communities like those based on Islam or Finno-Ugric languages but far more broadly, a development that if it grows could spell real trouble for the central government.
Earlier this month, Ingush activists and officials demanded that a Moscow television channel apologize for its snide and degrading remarks about members of their nationality, a demand that brought both the required apology and objections by Russians who argued that no apology was necessary.
But now, the Kalmyks, a Buddhist people in the North Caucasus, have adopted the same strategy with regard to a TNT program that in their view insulted Buddha and hence their people. And the Kavkaz Uzel portal says that this copying of the Ingush experience is “a successful and positive” thing (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/83772/posts/31234).
One must not insult either Buddha or the Koran, the site says; and if Christians nonetheless want to laugh about caricatures of Christ in a Parisian journal, “that is their affair but it doesn’t give them the right to treat other ‘other’ prophets in the same way.” Chukchis would be equally right to complain about jokes at their expense.
According to Kavkaz Uzel, “federalism and the poly-ethnic quality of the state a priori presupposes diversity and mutual respect of all to all and not the copying of everything in bad taste that is done in the capital.” If Moscow does not understand this now, then it must be forced to understand.
What is equally interesting in this development is that it represents an unintended consequence of the Russian law prohibiting anything that insults the feelings of believers, a law that was pushed by an intended to protect Russian Orthodox Christians but one that is now being used by others, in this case the Buddhist Kalmyks, to protect themselves.