Staunton, Nov. 8 – Moscow fears that ethnic Russian flight from the North Caucasus not only means that people from that region who come to work in Russian cities are less adapted to Russian culture but also creates the risk that the center could lose control over the region itself (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/09/plan-to-return-russians-to-rural-north.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/10/coronavirus-pandemic-accelerating.html).
With his new book, The Caucasus without Russians: A Strike from the South (in Russian, Moscow: 1921), Valery Korovin, head of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, has placed himself at the center of debates about how serious this problem is becoming (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/08/russian-outmigration-from-north.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/07/russia-occupied-caucasus-to-defend.html).
Now, in an interview he has given to Dmitry Steshin of Komsomolskaya Pravda, Korovin has outlined three steps he believes are necessary not only to keep the remaining ethnic Russians in the region but also to increase their numbers. The radical nature of his proposals suggests just how wobrried many in the Russian capital are now (kp.ru/daily/28353/4500958/).
Ethnic Russians in the North Caucasus are being driven out because “they are weak,” and they are weak “because they no longer have a civilization mission which earlier the state defined for them. They have been transformed into ordinary people who do not have the strength for their own defense.”
In the short term, Korovin says, this situation can be remedied only by arming the Cossacks who will then be able to defend ethnic Russians. To those who are alarmed by this idea, he continues, the fact of the matter is that “an armed Cossackry is simply an atavism” which doesn’t do anyone any good.
But that doesn’t address the fundamental problem: “Russians ae a disciplined people, a state-thinking one, who are accustomed to act in the strategic interests of the country. But when the state doesn’t designate these interests, Russians don’t understand” how they should act or even deafend themselves.
In short, Russians become uncomfortable when the state isn’t directing their actions; and they flee to where Russians at least form a larger percentage of the population. That is, they leave the North Caucasus for Central Russia, Korovin suggests.
To reverse this flow, the Moscow analyst says, Moscow should do three things. First, it should recognize that its position in the North Caucasus is at risk unless more ethnic Russians are there and that the ethnic Russians will remain there only if they have a sense that Russia is expanding rather than contracting.
Second, the state must actively promote the flow of Russians back to the North Caucasus. It won’t be cheap, but Moscow needs to send Russians, including those from major cities, back to the region by linking all investments to the creation of a new and more ethnic Russian workforce in the region.
And third, Korovin argues, Moscow must return the North Caucasus to its traditional economy and way of life. That region was stable when it had those characteristics. But the Soviet project destabilized everything, destroying traditional ties and values and urbanizing a population that was much better off when living in rural areas.
This Soviet project also made the mistake of creating republics, thus privileging some non-Russian peoples over others and both over ethnic Russians. Such republics must be disbanded, and all ethnic groups, including in the first instance, must have collective rights without the limits republics impose.
According to Korovin, “the North Caucasus without the politicization [the Soviets promoted and the Russian state has continued] is a completely stable formation. But as soon as national republics with borders appeared … fights and redivisions began.” Eliminating the cause of that will allow ethnic Russians to return.