Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kremlin Now Focusing on Discrimination against Russians Rather than by Them

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 10 – Reflecting the shift from liberal values to populist ones in many countries, the Kremlin is signaling that it will devote more attention to acts of discrimination against the ethnic Russian majority by non-Russians than against non-Russian minorities by the Russian majority as in the recent past.

            Most analysts and human rights activists continue to argue that discrimination against minorities by majorities is far more common than the reverse and that the power of the state should be used to protect the minorities against majority oppression, but populist leaders in many countries have won support by insisting that it is the majority that needs protection.

            In the United States, for example, discrimination by whites against Blacks has been countered by state power, which has been responsible for remarkable progress by that minority and by a shift in the attitudes of the majority. But now populist candidates have discovered that they can win support by complaining about that.

            Now, Vladimir Putin, whose government has never gone as far in supporting minorities as even the Soviet regime has, one whose first two decades at least US political scientist Terry Martin has intriguingly described as The Affirmative Action Empire (Cornell, 2001), is opting for the populist majoritarian position.

            So far, the Kremlin leader has not openly declared that is his intention. But it is clear from the way in which he is applying power, moving against the autonomy and language rights of the non-Russian peoples and promoting the majority nation above all, that that is very much his plan.

            Now, there is another piece of evidence: Aleksandr Brod, a member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, has declared that Moscow must set up additional monitoring to measure and then to counter discrimination against ethnic Russians in Tuva ( a

            In response to complaints by the ethnic Russians in Tuva, Brod said that “it is necessary to analyze the reaction of the procuracy and the practice of court decisions” in order to ensure that officials in the republics do not discriminate against ethnic Russians, the majority nation in the Russian Federation.

            His comments and proposals came in response to an open letter from Viktor Molin, head of the Union of Russian Speaking Citizens of Tuva, to Putin and Tuvan Senator Lyudmila Narusova in which he asserted that since the coming to power of Sholban Kara-oola in that republic the Russian population has been subject to “oppression.”

            Two years ago, a FADN poll found anti-Russian attitudes in Tuva to be among the highest in the Russian Federation; but then, this issue was taken up only by lower-ranking officials. Now, with Brod’s imprimatur, more ethnic Russians are certain to begin complaining about how they are the real victims of discrimination and not just in Tuva (

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