Today, there are “more than 30 national formations of various kinds,” Goryunov continues. “The Kremlin well remembers 1991 when the country fell apart along national borders. There is also the history of 1918 when the empire also fell apart along national borders. And there is the general history of the disintegration of empires. They all fall apart.”
Judging from the statements of Russian leaders, “the Kremlin sees a clear connection” between multi-nationality and “inevitable disintegration. And from that has come the decision: to remove nations from the political map of the country. If that happens, it will be able to preserve Russia in its current borders forever.”
“The statistics, by the way, are on the side of the Kremlin,” the philosopher says. “The Udmurts and Chuvash are losing approximately one percent of their number every year. This does not mean that Udmurts and Chuvash are dying out. It is simply that people are deciding that they are no longer Udmurts or Chuvash but Russians.”
“People in fact are rejecting their own identity,” he says. “The Kremlin is simply helping them take a decision favorable to it,” offering rewards to those who make the change and deprivations of various kinds to those who don’t. According to the Russian philosopher, “the Kremlin is certain it will be successful.”
But there are reasons for thinking it won’t be, Goryunov continues. Among the most important is the economy. Russia is a raw material exporter and nothing more, and it is thus dependent on developments it cannot control. When the price of oil collapsed in 1991, so too did Russia with the nationality “question” re-emerging in spades.
Moreover, Russia’s natural resource exports are really from non-Russian areas: oil and gas from the Khanty-Mansiisk AO, the Yamalo-Nenets AO, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan. Diamonds are from Sakha. And grain is from Adygeys, Stavropol kray and Krasnodar kray, “regions with a strong local identity.”
Thus, it is no surprise, Goryunov says, that “Moscow is vitally interested in ensuring that these republics and krays will become humble and obedience Russian oblasts like Lipetsk and Ryazan.” For the country in Moscow’s view, that is “a question of survival,” not just economic development.