Staunton, April 22 – Many Russians and all to many Westerns view the Russian Federation as divided between Moscow and an undifferentiated set of provinces, but in fact, the After Empire portal points out, Russia is “a whole continent consisting of a multitude of future countries,” some well-known but many extremely obscure.
That many in Moscow view the provinces this way has made it possible for the Russian government to behave toward those who seek to defend the rights of their people in completely unacceptable and repressive ways to the point of forcing many of those who speak for these “unknown” peoples to flee Russia for their lives
One nation that is part of this “imperial terra incognita” and whose activist defenders have been forced into exile is the Shor people, a nation of 13,000 nominally one of the numerically small peoples who are supposed to get assistance from the center but who seldom get any help and often are mistreated (afterempire.info/2018/04/21/shoria/).
Yana and Vladislav Tannagasheva, who have been fighting for the Shors for more than five years, have finally been forced to emigrate to a European country where they hope to be able to continue the struggle through international organizations like the European Court ad United Nations (sibreal.org/a/правозащитникам-здесь-не-место/29182610.html).
Yana Tannagasheva, a member of the Rebirth of Kazas and the Shor People, says that officials have worked to destroy the Shors rather than help them, have lied about the situation, and have failed to keep their promises to meet with representatives of this small Turkic people. She has become ever more vocal internationally, and the Russian authorities have struck back.
Even though she was declared “teacher of the year” at the school she works for, she was forced to resign; and she was told by unidentified thugs on the street that if she didn’t stop pushing for the restoration of the rights of the Shors, she would soon be a widow, a not so implicit threat that they were prepared to kill her husband who also has been speaking out.
Earlier this month, the Tannagashev couple and their children left Russia and are now in a European country, “the name of which they ask not to be revealed” at least for the time being. “We arrived here on April 14, handed in our documents to the migration service and are waiting for an interview,” she said.
Yana Tannagasheva added that “we are not the first rights activists from among the indigenous peoples of Russia who have been forced to ask for political asylum abroad. Last year, Pavel Sulyandziga, a leader of the numerically small peoples of the North, asked for asylum in the United States.
Expelling such people may buy Moscow time, but such repression won’t end the aspirations of these nations. Instead, the arrival of ever more of their activists in the West will make a major contribution to ensuring that the West will no longer view the Russian Federation as Moscow plus provinces but rather as the evil empire that it has not ceased to be.