Staunton, August 3 – Moscow’s policies on the numerically small indigenous peoples of the North are directed “in the first instance not in support of them as unique ethnic communities but for their complete integration into present-day Russian society in exchange for their loss of historical memory and ultimate loss of special benefits,” Dmytro Horevoy says.
The Ukrainian journalist who specializes on religious and ethnic questions presents a damning portrait of what the Russian government has been doing to the peoples of the North and Far East, thereby extending Ukrainian concern from the largest national minorities in the Russian Federation to the smallest (trtrussian.com/mnenie/kak-i-pochemu-v-rossii-vymirayut-etnicheskie-menshinstva-6229186).
What Moscow is doing in the Far North is another manifestation of its “colonial policy which in Russia is conducted under the slogan of ‘the national idea of the ingathering of lands’” and “has led to the destruction of the indigenous population of a large number of regions.” But nowhere worse than in the North.
That region has 85 percent of Russia’s gas and 15 percent of its oil, and Moscow has extracted these natural resources in a way that has been destroying six percent of the pasture and hunting lands of the indigenous populations, increasingly leaving them without the ability to carry on their traditional way of life, Horevoy continues.
But that is only one and not the worst aspect of Russian policy there. On the one hand, it has promoted the spread of high levels of alcohol consumption from the Russian to the non-Russian communities, thus leading to the degradation of both. And on the other, it has set up a system in which members of the indigenous people must make a Hobson’s choice.
In order to get the benefits which Moscow promises to the indigenous populations in the shape of greater hunting and fishing rights, members of these groups must forego the benefits of modernity; but if they try to continue their way of life at odds with the interests of oil and gas companies, they will be declared extremist and lose their membership in these ethnic groups.
Moscow simultaneously supports both. It has systematically reduced the share of the populations of these communities getting benefits while at the same time reducing their number by declaring members of these groups who don’t practice the traditional ways Moscow in fact opposes no longer part of these communities.
The combination of these two drives, both of which are managed by the Russian FSB, works to Moscow’s benefit but only at the cost of the rapid destruction of these ethnic communities, their way of life and their identities, an obvious violation of the human rights of these peoples, the Ukrainian journalist continues.
As important as Gorevoy’s testimony Russian policy is, his words are even more significant as an indication of the way in which the Kremlin’s attack on the ethnic policies of Ukraine are backing against itself, leading Kyiv writers and analysts to point out that whatever shortcomings there may be in Ukraine, they pale in comparison with Moscow’s in Russia.