Friday, April 17, 2020

Urals Emigration Takes Shape Alongside But Not Part of Siberian One

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 15 – The Russian Federation is so large and the populations of its regions so diverse, including those that are all too often lumped together as predominantly ethnic Russian, that it should not surprise anyone that in the face of increasing repression, ever more Russians from the regions are leaving the country and forming regionally-based emigrations.

            The first and largest of these, the Sibiryaki or “Siberians,” has already attracted some attention but little support from either international organizations or Russian liberal activists ( But now there is a second, the Uraltsy or “People of the Urals.” 

            Albeit smaller than the Siberian emigration, the Uraltsy are not only more active but growing more rapidly because of deteriorating conditions in their homeland. As a result, Moscow’s security services have closed down their Internet portals and sought to isolate their advocates ( and   
            Urals diaspora leader Andrey Romanov remains unbowed and insists “the Urals will be free even if the West will save Moscow,” a recognition on his part that once again, as in 1991, Western governments are likely to remain defenders of the status quo until someone else changes it and only then rush in to take credit (; in Russian at

            Romanov who now lives in Finland seeks cooperation with the Free Russia Forum and with other regionalist and nationalist groups, but he is insistent that the Urals region is separate and apart from the Siberian one with which it is often grouped, especially by outsiders. And he is now working hard to underscore the differences between Uralsty and Sibiryaki.

            Romanov has now reposted a Russian article which discusses in detail how the two groups of people are different and why ( reposting

            That article, originally prepared by the Kirillitsa portal points out the obvious: “the territory of Russia is so great that Russian people living in various regions of our country exist in completely different conditions and are beginning to display in their character the special aspects of the residents of these regions.”

            People from the Urals and from Siberia, although often lumped together by outsiders, are completely different peoples as a result of their very different histories, with the first having been far more under Moscow’s control than the second, perhaps why the Russian security agencies are especially concerned about regionalism there.

            From the 17th century on, the article points out, the Urals was not only the edge of the Russian world but also the site of the country’s arms industry, with gigantic metal-working and armament factories on which the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union both relied. The center thus worked hard to control the population despite any signs of independence despite climatic conditions that made self-reliance a necessity.

            Siberia, on the other hand, was where people from the European portions of the empire fled, where they were able to get large amounts of land, and where they were often able to exist apart from many of the controls that the center far more successfully imposed elsewhere including in the Urals.

            The Kirillitsa article is based on a recent essay on “The Urals Character in Texts and Ads” (in Russian at and a 2014 volume (“Siberian Character as a Value” in Russian, Krasnoyarsk, 2014, 256 pp, at

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