Friday, August 5, 2022

De-Colonization Need Not Radically Change Borders to be Harmful to Ethnic Russians, Khramov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 1 – Many are now talking about the de-colonization of Russia, with supporters believing that will inevitably lead to the rise of new states and opponents using fears of that to justify repression. But as the experience of the first years of Soviet power shows, de-colonization can occur without major border changes, Aleksandr Khramov says.

            But even without them, as Lenin’s affirmative action for non-Russians and his attacks on any support of Russian culture as a manifestation of great power chauvinism show, talk about de-colonization can have the most negative effects on the ethnic Russian majority, the Russian commentator argues (

            If de-colonization without border changes spreads, Khramov argues – and he insists that that outcome is more likely than the appearance of new states, possibly armed with nuclear weapons given the opposition of the West – many Russians will reidentify ethnically, the share of Russians in the population will fall, and the Russian language and culture will be degraded.

            And what is especially worrisome is that some Russian ruler in the future may try to win support internationally by promising to de-colonize much as Lenin did, keeping the borders the same but suppressing the Russians, something that the West will find especially congenial and ready to support.

            Lenin managed to keep the country in roughly the same borders it had under the tsars, but he ruled it, informed by ideas like de-colonization; and the results were baleful as far as Russians are concerned. Russians today need to understand this and oppose decolonization with or even without territorial changes.

             In short, defending the current borders of the Russian Federation is not enough, the commentator says. It is critically important that Moscow fight against the ideas of de-colonization which informed Lenin a century ago and which are now being talked about not only by émigré activists but by some inside the country.

            Unless Russians  recognize that reality, they may find themselves in a country with similar borders to the one they have now but not one in which they will be comfortable with as a nation or have a positive national future.

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