Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Ever More Nations in Russia Disappearing, Reflecting Kremlin’s View that They Must Be Russians or Die Out, Ukrainian Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 20 – Ever more nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation are at the edge of extinction, reflecting that Kremlin’s view that numerically small peoples or those it views as closely related to ethnic Russians in any case must either assimilate or die out, according to Ukrainian commentator Oleksy Nesterenko.

            This process has passed largely unnoticed in areas most people think of as ethnic Russian anyway, such as Kostroma Oblast, where local people identified as a distinct Kostroma people in the past but now have entirely gone over to an ethnic Russian identity, he says (censoru.net/2020/03/20/russkie-kak-imja-naricatelnoe-spisok-korennyh-i-pochti-uzhe-assimilirovanyh-narodov-rossii.html).

            It has attracted slightly more attention when it involves peoples that Russian and Soviet officials in the past have recognized as separate nationalities disappear. Among these are the Abaza, the Aleuts, the Alyurtortsy, the Besermyane, the Vepsy, the Vods, the Dolgins, the Izhors, the Itelmens, the Kamchadals, the Kereks, the Kets, the Koryaks, the Kumandins, the Mansi, the Nagaybaks, the Nanays, the Saamy, the Selkups, the Setu, the Soyots, the Tax, the Telengits, the Teleuts, the Tofalars, the Tuvins, the Udeyevs, the Ulchi, the Khanty, the Chelkans, the Chvins, the Chukchi, the Chulyms, the Shapsugs, the Shors, the  Evenks, the Evens, the Entsy, the Eskimos and the Yukagirs.

            Some of these have already died out or will in the next generation: there are no longer any Alyutortsy and all the surviving Kereks are men. Others are larger and still have hopes of surviving, but they lack official support in the form of schools and media; and consequently, they are being rapidly assimilated. And only a very few, the Moksha in particular, are fighting back.

            But about almost all of these “we will never find out anything more except from the archives because the representatives of these ethnoses finally have broken with their roots and chosen the generalized identity of ‘ethnic Russian,’” the Ukrainian writer says.

            And he concludes by suggesting that this pattern represents a clear warning to the Ukrainians: They, according to the convictions of the Kremlin leadership can exist only as the very same ‘ethnic Russians’ or die.”

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