Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Passionate Buryat Response to the Notion of ‘Russia for the Russians’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 16 – Historically, non-Russian nations within the borders of a Russian state have responded to an upsurge in Russian nationalism with nationalisms, inevitably anti-Russian, of their own. That is why most Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet leaders have kept tight control over Russian nationalists lest the slogan “Russia for the Russians” lead to disaster.

            But while the Putin regime has gone after the most extreme Russian nationalists especially in the last year, it has positioned itself as a defender of ethnic Russian interests on issues like languages in the schools that have encouraged ethnic Russians to think that their time may be coming and to say and do things that inevitably will generate responses.

            Those are beginning to appear, and the Free Ural portal this week features a post by Buryat activist Aleksandr Garmadzhapova that reflects the dangers of the Kremlin’s playing with Russian nationalism and exceptionalism in a country that is a quarter or more non-Russian. It is translated below in full (freeural.org/chto-delat-s-rossiej/):

“Racism in Russia is acquiring absurd forms. For example, the persecution of migrants in the country began after the conflict in the Matveyev market in which all the participants were citizens of Russia (Daghestan), and the idea declared by many in the course of a poll that the Russian nation should have priority over others is worrisome. I as a Buryat can then say: “let’s go to our own national apartments and destroy the empire. Do you want this?  41 percent of our citizens support the slogan ‘Russian for the Russians.’ What are they going to do with the non-Russians?  Give me Buryat citizenship and give you Kostroma citizenship. Let’s divorce. This will be the honest thing to do if you want to live separately.  [But] no (they say) we want the national republics to be gubernias where Russians rule and you serve them by working in the fields.” 

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