Sunday, November 25, 2018

Kashin’s Comments Show Russian Liberalism Ends Well Before Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 25 – It has long been a commonplace that Russian liberalism ends at Ukraine, that however liberal a Russian may be, he or she is more likely than not to be a supporter of an imperial approach to Ukraine; but in fact, as new comments by Oleg Kashin show, Russian liberalism ends well before Ukraine.

            The Russian journalist who lives in London enjoys the reputation of a liberal even though he supported the Anschluss of Crimea. But his “chauvinist” views are increasingly in evidence. On the Personally Yours program of Ekho Moskvy three days ago, he made remarks that have infuriated not only Ukrainians but many non-Russians inside the current borders of Russia.

            “There are world cultures,” he said; “there are local ones, and there are disputable cultures …  It is stupid to deny that some have made greater contributions, others less, and the third like the Ukrainians …”  But then he added that Gabdulla Tukay and Mustay Karim were not worthy of having their names affixed to the airports in Kazan and Ufa (

            Not surprisingly, Ukrainians are outraged, but so too are the Tatars and Bashkirs who reasonably resent the Orwellian attitude that “all nations are equal but some are more equal than others” – and that they are members of national communities that are definitely in the latter category as far as that Russian liberal is concerned (

            In fact, some Tatars and Bashkirs have labelled him “a liberal fascist.”  One can easily understand their outrage.

            “My friends, the patriots in Moscow, the Russian nationalists, imperialists, whoever, ask who is this Gubadulla Tukay in Kazan? There is no such Tukay. Let’s make the name Lobachevsky. In principle,” Oreshkin said, “I also consider that Lobachevsky for the city of Kazan which all the same is more a Russian city … means more than Gabadulla Tukay”

            The reaction of the Tatar-language internet was instantaneous and overwhelmingly negative, Kazan’s Business-Gazeta reports.  It provides numerous examples with Tatars charging Kashin with imperialism, extremism, xenophobia, hypocrisy and simply ignorance.  No one came to his defense.

            But the reaction to Kashin’s remarks were not limited to the Tatar version of Facebook. Maksim Shevchenko, a prominent journalist, weighed in as well. “You know why there is liberal fascism and what it is? It is a sum of stupidity, ignorance, provincial complexes, greed, racism, and love for the state.”

            “The little fool Kashin,” Shevchenko says, simply is saying loudly and boldly what “all liberal fascists think and babble about in their kitchens. This is their Russia … Let the peoples of Russia hear, listen, think and draw conclusions.” For “liberal fascists,” the best the non-Russians can hope for is some kind of reservation “’for the natives.’” 

            There is one positive aspect of this story, Shevchenko suggests. Kashin has dropped his mask and that of those who think as he does.  Non-Russians and others should in fact “draw conclusions” from that. 

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