Monday, June 11, 2018

Kremlin’s ‘Russophobia’ Charges have Nothing to Do with Ethnicity, Everything with Politics, Shtepa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 11 – The Putin regime and its minions constantly invoke the term “Russophobia” to suggest that critics of the Kremlin are ethnic bigots or even racists; but in reality, such charges have nothing to do with ethnicity or language but are entirely determined by politics, Vadim Shtepa says.

            “Those who harshly criticize” Putin and his regime “are declared ‘Russophobes’” by that regime even if they are ethnic Russians or their criticism is entirely based on facts or even affection for the Russian people, the editor of the After Empire portal argues (

            That becomes obvious if one looks at the latest list of people in Estonia Moscow has declared “Russophobes” whom it has banned from entering Russia. In addition to former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonian foreign policy experts like Kristi Raik, Ivo Juurvee, Kalev Stoicescu, and Erkki Bahovski, and political activists like Andres Herkel, Henn Polluaas, Urmas Reitelmann, and Toomas Alatalu, there are some Russians and Ukrainians as well.

            On the list as well are Dmitri Terepik, an ethnic Russian researcher at the Tallinn International Center for Defense and Security, Jevgeni Kristtafovits, an ethnic Russian activist who represents Kasparov in Estonia, Sergei Metlev who exposed the role of ethnic Russian teachers in stirring up trouble over the Bronze Soldier controversy, historian Igor Kopotin whose research focuses on Bolshevik atrocities in Estonia during that country’s fight for independence, and Evhen Tsybulenko, who heads the Ukrainian-Estonian society.

            As Shtepa points out, in the past, “’Russophobia’ was a market of Russian nationalist movements. But today the Kremlin has in fact privatized it after having disarmed the nationalists.” And its use of the charge “very much recalls the term ‘anti-Soviet agitation’ of the USSR era.” Like that, it is directed at anyone who fails to follow “’the party line.’”

            In short, he continues, “the term ‘Russophobia’ has acquired a purely political meaning – it refers to a negative attitude toward the Kremlin empire.” And that in turn means that the only way to overcome it is by means of “the final de-imperialization of Russia,” quite possibly accompanied by the disappearance of the term “Russia.”

            When the British Empire disappeared, London did not feel the need to deploy a term like “Anglophobia” against its critics in Canada, the US, Australia or New Zealand.” Those countries all speak English, but they are also “different nations,” something that the British people have no trouble recognizing.

            Within the borders of today’s Russian Federation, Shtepa says, “there are about 50 ethnic Russian oblasts and krays.” He suggests that “in the process of the final disintegration of the empire will appear approximately the same number of Russian speaking nations, from Koenigs on the Baltic to Primors on the Pacific Ocean.”

            Once that happens, Shtepa concludes, “the Kremlin’s accusations of ‘Russophobia’ will disappear” as well.

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