Staunton, June 22 – The clashes between Roma and ethnic Russians in Chemodanovka highlight a sad reality: Russia is not the multi-national society the Kremlin likes to claim but rather a collection of tribes who often have the most negative views of others and whose ethnic sensitivities are exacerbated by poverty, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say.
This is not something the powers that be want to admit, the paper continues. They prefer to assert what they know isn’t true and to blame problems on “outside agitators,” most commonly the Americans, and to act as if denying the problem or moving one side of the conflict as in Penza oblast is enough (ng.ru/editorial/2019-06-20/2_7603_red.html).
Tensions arise out of everyday life and then made worse by the clan way of life of the ethnic communities, social problems like poverty and the indifference and lack of attention of the authorities, the paper says. Since 1991, Russia “has not been able to create a single community, a single Russian people consolidated not just in words but in fact on how people feel.”
“There must be a profound collective feeling comparable to the strength of such instincts as alienation from anything different such as xenophobia, the feeling of tribal solidarity, irrational aggression and other unconscious impulses to unite the peoples in the country,” Nezavisimaya gazeta says. But that does not now exist.
In some countries, the paper points out, the ability of people from any group to rise to positions of power and success helps to restrain “tribal instincts.” But “within the limits of ‘the Russian world,’ this stimulus is ridiculed and in its place is offered the surrogate of ‘traditional values.’”
They may spring from various religious and national customs, but they do not form “a strong ‘unifying fabric’ because they are construed artificially; and in conflict situations, they give way to the energy of differences that remain powerfully present in the same traditions of faiths and ethnic groups.”
“The official rhetoric of the Russian powers that be seeks to convince us that the best model of inter-ethnic relations exists in the country. But practice shows that claim to be untrue. In situations of social tension is revealed not the multi-national but the tribal character of our society.”
And the paper concludes, “between these two terms is a large, even dramatic difference.”