Friday, June 5, 2020

Circassians Protest Regional Amalgamation Plans and Calls to Make Russians ‘Elder Brothers’ to Non-Russians

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 2 – Prominent Circassian activists from across the North Caucasus have denounced Moscow’s latest plans to amalgamate non-Russian areas with predominantly Russian ones and the call by one Russian nationalist to reduce non-Russians to second class status by declaring Russians to be their “elder brother” as was the case in Soviet times.

            Their concern and anger was sparked by an article by Yegor Kholmogorov in the edition of Komsomlskaya pravda for the North Caucasus in which he said Russia faces “a second round of disintegration if it does not destroy autonomies and republics.” That article has been taken down from the paper’s website but a copy is at

            Because Kholmogorov’s words were published in such a prominent place, the activists say, this cannot be an accident but rather must be a reflection of the attitudes of some in the power structures of Russia. At a minimum, the authors say, the Russian authorities must disown the Russian nationalist’s words.

            The writers argue that Kholmogorov’s words constitute a call “for an anti-constitutional revolution and a change in the constitutional foundations of the state” given that Russia is a federation of a large variety of nations who have exercised their fundamental right to national self-determination.

            They also note that in the Russian nationalist’s article, Russia’s “peoples are divided into ‘higher’ and ‘lower,’ into the main and the secondary.” That represents a restoration of the Soviet concept of the Russians as “the elder brother” of everyone else, with the Russians being a full-fledged nation and the others something less than that.

            The appeal also points out that the fact that in some non-Russian republics, members of the titular nationality do not form a majority of the population is not their fault and not the basis for change because it is the result of ethnic cleansing, carried out by both “tsarist imperialism and communist totalitarianism.”

            In a commentary on this declaration, the Woman’s View from Nalchik blog adds that the non-Russians are often accused of separatism but that if anyone cares to look, any separatism is being provoked by the behavior of the Russian authorities who ignore their rights and thus provoke them (

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