Staunton, July 19 – For all its differences with other empires, differences Moscow always insists on, the Russian one has now acquired yet another similarity: it has provoked those whom it colonized to view those who built the Russian empire as “conquistadors,” “colonizers,” and “racists,” the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say (ng.ru/editorial/2020-07-19/2_7915_red.html
After recounting the controversies over monuments to tsarist conquerors in Sochi and Tobolsk (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/07/new-monuments-to-tsarist-generals-show.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/07/circassian-opposition-to-tsarist.html), the editors suggest that these long-brewing disputes have been “spurred on” by events in the United States.
In the US, in recent months, Black Americans and others have demanded that statues to Confederate generals be taken down. They have achieved some success, and that has inspired other groups to go after monuments to other conquerors, including the Russian one of Alaska (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/06/moscow-outraged-by-calls-to-remove.html).
The Russian media have played up all of these events in the US both to call attention to problems roiling American society and to the insult to Russia that the moves against the Baranov statue constitute, with the last playing it long-running controversies over the handling of Soviet statues both in Russia and elsewhere.
“The chief conclusion from these conflict situations,” the Moscow paper says, “is that reliance on history serves as a poor basis for uniting the peoples of Russia. Even the closest allies, such as Abkhazia may suddenly be split by appeals to disputed moments in the past” and see current friends as just the opposite.
The further back in history one goes and the more one makes that history the basis for unity as the Kremlin is now doing, the more dangerous this past becomes for the present and the future, Nezavisimaya gazeta continues. Striving for a better and common future can unite peoples; trying to find unity in the past often doesn’t work.
Appealing “only to the past” as the current Russian regime is inclined to do prove counterproductive, the editors say. And they argue that “a stable interethnic peace is possible to acquire only in a solid seeking after a worthy future. Russia needs a project for organizing life which attracts all its peoples.”
“All happy families of nations are like one another,” the editors say echoing Tolstoy’s classic observation about families more narrowly. “Each unhappy one is unhappy in its own way,” the editors conclude. “To search for an ideal in the past means that together with the national pride of some, one pulls out of a dusty chest the unhappiness and resentment of others.”