Saturday, June 18, 2022

Putin’s War in Ukraine Radicalizing Non-Russians within Russian Federation and Abroad

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 31 – The Russian nationalist messages the Kremlin has been promoting in the course of Putin’s war in Ukraine are radicalizing non-Russians both living inside the Russian Federation and abroad, with ever more offended by the implication that they are simultaneously second-class citizens and in the eyes of the world equally to bithlame for the invasion.

            The politicization and radicalization of non-Russians is most visible among diaspora communities where the risks from expressing anti-war positions are less but where the war has led ever more of these groups to take political positions rather than simply supporting their own groups, the Kholod portal says (

            Inside the borders of the Russian Federation, however, ever more non-Russians are prepared to protest both in response to growing casualty rates among their co-ethnics who, many of them believe, are being used as canon fodder and because of the Russian nationalist messages the Kremlin is disseminating, something they see as portending even worse ahead.

            In Kalmykia, for example, many are outraged by a billboard that went up shortly after the start of the war. It declared “I am a Kalmyk but today we are all Russians,” offensively using the word for ethnic Russian Russkiye rather than the more neutral political and ostensibly non-ethnic Rossiyane.

            That has promoted some Kalmyks to protest, others to start wearing t-shirts declaring “I am a Non-Russian,” and still others to emigrate to escape what they say is intensifying discrimination against anyone who isn’t an ethnic Russian.

            Elsewhere, groups like Asians of Russia have shifted from cultural concerns to political ones and have staked out openly political demands both about the war – they are almost unanimous opposed -- and about the future of their republics – they want broader autonomy or even independence ( (

            One activist says that she feels what is happening is a post-Soviet version of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and that this feeling in and of itself is encouraging more non-Russians to feel that they are not alone, to take pride in their nationality, and to conclude that they will ultimately win out against Russian oppression (

            Activists of one of these groups, Free Buryatia, are mostly found abroad and are careful of linking up with Buryats at home lest they get the latter in trouble. But Free Buryatia is now talking more openly about discrimination in the Russian Federation and raising the question in all of its posts and leaflets, “where is the de-Nazification of Russia?”


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