Staunton, April 26 – Corridors separating the same or closely related peoples often are the cause of problems far greater than their size indicates. The Danzig corridor between Germany proper and East Prussia was one of the proximate causes of World War II, and many believe that the Suwalki corridor between Russia and Kaliningrad could spark another war.
But corridors within countries can play an equally fateful role. Within the Russian Federation, the most well-known of these is the Orenburg corridor which separates the peoples of Idel-Ural from Kazakhstan and thus serves to limit their ability to pursue independence from Moscow. (See windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/idel-ural-activists-call-on.html.)
Now Andrey Romanov, the editor of the Free Ural portal, has pointed to another such corridor, one that has not in the past attracted much attention, the Kudymkar corridor between the six republics of Idel-Ural and the region between them and the Arctic Sea populated largely by Finno-Ugric peoples (facebook.com/Free.IdelUral/posts/416146912275207).
“To the north of the republics of Idel Ural are situated subjects of the federation of autochthonian, primarily Finno-Ugric peoples – the Komi-Zyryans, the Khanty, the Mansi and the Nentsy.” Their territories form “a single region leading to the shore of the Arctic” but cutting off Idel-Ural from that body of water.
As Romanov points out, “not so long ago, there existed yet another subject of the federation which was in fact the connecting link between Idel-Ural and the regions of the Northern peoples, the Komi-Permyak autonomous district with an administrative center at Kudymkar.”
Only one direct of the Perm oblast – Sivinsky – separates the Komi-Permyaks from Udmurtia, part of Ideal Ural, the activist now living in exile in Finland says. The Komi-Permyak national district was created in 1925 and elevated to the status of an autonomous district in 1977. After the end of the USSR, it became “a subject of the Russian Federation.”
“Ethnically, the Komi-Permyaks are closely connected with the Komi-Zyrzyans, the titular people of the Komi Republic,” Romanov says. “They speak practically the same language and this provides a basis for thinking of them as a single Komi people. The closest relatives of both groups are the Udmurts.”
In 2005, Vladimir Putin as part of his regional amalgamation drive redrew the borders in such a way, that the Kudymkar corridor was “liquidated” and the Idel-Ural republics lost their land bridge to the Arctic just as they had earlier lost their bridge to Kazakhstan with the creation of the Orenburg oblast decades earlier.
This happened when the Komi-Permyak AO was combined with Perm Oblast which became the Perm Kray. In this new federal subject, the Komi-Permyaks have lost their status as a subject of the federation and have little power as they form only 3.2 percent of the kray’s total population. They aren’t happy (windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/03/window-on-eurasia-putins-regional.html).
As Romanov concludes, “the liquidation of the Komi-Permyark autonomous district continues the Russian policy of isolating Idel-Ural, a policy which was begun by Soviet power” first to the south with Orenburg and now to the north with Kudymkar. But just as Orenburg is now an issue in Bashkortostan, so too Kudymkar could quickly become one as well.