Monday, October 1, 2018

Moscow Facing Ever More Regionalist Movements across the Russian Federation

Paul Goble
            Staunton, October 1 – Moscow is facing ever more regionalist movements, many of them with even more radical separatist agendas that are to be found among non-Russian nationalities, the result of the spread of the Internet which has permitted the development of local and regional identities. Not surprisingly, the Russian government is fighting back against this trend.

            Because the Soviet Union disintegrated along national lines and because both Russian and Western analysts continue to focus on that rather than on regionalist movements both the rise of the latter, their increasing influence, and Moscow’s efforts to suppress them have attracted less attention.

            Almost two years ago, the author of these lines argued that “regionalism is the nationalism of the next Russian revolution,” that it is likely to be more powerful than ethnicity in the Russian Federation which is far more ethnically Russian than was the USSR and which consists of many far-flung regions (

            In the ensuing months, the strength of regionalist identities has grown, in large part because of the rise of Internet-based communities of interest – on this trend, see and because of Moscow’s combined neglect and oppression of regional interests and concerns.

            Not surprisingly, given that Moscow has fought what it defines as extremism but what in fact is any objection to its authoritarian rule primarily online, the Russian authorities have gone after these Internet communities and the portals which link and support them with ever-increasing intensity.

            In the last year alone, the Russian authorities have blocked “more than 24” such communities focusing on the theme of freedom for the Urals region alone, not to mention the numerous other sites devoted to other regions ( and

            Moscow has also gone after regionalist sites in the Middle Volga, Siberia, the St. Petersburg area, and in the Moscow region (,

            But both the nature of the Internet – when one site is suppressed, others can arise – and the growing interest in and support for regionalist agendas, including autonomy or even independence mean that Russia is losing the war even if it wins some of the battles, something that even the Kremlin must be beginning to recognize.

            As Andrey Romanov, a Urals regionalist who operates the Free Ural site from his post in emigration, puts it, “it is becoming clear to many that Russia does not have any chances in the long term to remain in its current borders” and “the main event in the 21st century will be the disappearance of Russia and the formation on its territory of new independent states.”

            States, he suggests, that are far more likely to be based on regionalist agendas than on ethnicity alone ( 

No comments:

Post a Comment