Saturday, July 10, 2021

Tyva Least Integrated Part of Russia but Unlikely to Seek Independence

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 5 – Tyva (Tuva) is far and away the least integrated part of the Russian Federation. Indeed, one commentator says any ethnic Russian who visits that Buddhist and shamanistic republic will feel he has gone abroad and will be forced to conclude that Tyva today makes Daghestan appear to be nothing more than an ordinary Russian oblast.

            Tuvis form 80 percent of the population, and ethnic Russians have declined to only 15 percent. But many Tuvins would like to see even more Russians depart as they don’t believe ethnic Russians should form more than five percent of their republic’s residents ( and

            Moreover, Russians feel themselves foreigners in what is their own country -- Tyva was annexed by the USSR in 1944 -- The population maintains its language and culture and is hostile to outsiders. But despite that, few Tuvins are separatists. They don’t believe the international community would support them, and they don’t want to become part of China (

            Anyone who has followed Tuvin history at all won’t be surprised about this situation. But in the current environment where any challenge to the territorial integrity of the country is a crime, it is more than a little remarkable that the mainstream Zen.Yandex portal is discussing these matters.

Indeed, the fact that it is suggests that the situation in Tyva is deteriorating far more rapidly than most had thought and that Moscow may want to prepare Russians for a broad crackdown in Tyva. Another possibility is that this is part of an indirect against the Russian defense minister Sergey Shoygu who has Tuvin roots.

But suggestions that a republic could be as un-integrated as Tyva clearly is could backfire: Other republics and their leaders could argue that if Tyva can exist as a country within a country, there is no particularly good reason why they can't behave in something like the same way.  

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