Staunton, Nov. 6 – An angry exchange of words between Margarita Simonyan of RT and Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya calls attention to a problem widespread around the world but one that is becoming particularly acute in Russia today – the tendency to focus on one identity when people have positive feelings about others and another identity when they don’t.
After a street fight in Moscow between ethnic Russians and Chechens, Simonyan lashed out at “persons of Caucasian nationality,” a term Russians who view non-Russians from the north Caucasus as somehow innately opposed to the Russian system for more than a generation (meduza.io/feature/2021/11/07/posle-draki-v-novoy-moskve-margarita-simonyan-napisala-chto-litsa-kavkazskoy-natsionalnosti-doprygayutsya-ey-otvetil-ramzan-kadyrov
Such shifts have always been true in Russia. In Soviet times, the regime referred to all who made the country proud as Soviet citizens while making reference to non-Russian nationalities generally only when one of their members did something wrong. The current push to use Rossiyane for all Russian citizens only intensifies this proclivity.
Many Russians and especially many who rank high in the Moscow pyramid of power may see this as entirely natural and appropriate, but Kadyrov’s words are a reminder that such thoughtlessness and the double standards which it reflects make many non-Russians angry even to the point of alienation.