Staunton, July 13 – The West brought down the USSR by setting non-Russians against Russians, Igor Karaulov argues; but if it is to succeed in breaking up the Russian Federation into 50 or 60 countries, it will have to divide the Russian ethnos into competing groups and set some groups of Russians against others.
The Moscow publicist says that this will involve promoting the old idea of Cossackia, the newer idea of a United States of Siberia, and territories like the Urals Republic and Ingermanland, entities that can be created if local officials and professors have enough power to promote these ideas (vz.ru/opinions/2022/7/13/1167221.html).
As the case of Ukraine has shown, such ideas, even if they have no natural base in the population, can be created if the central authorities ignore the risks involved. And that is what the Western powers base their assumptions on, Karaulov says, although they should be aware of the fact that promoting “de-colonization” is a two-edged sword that can be turned against them.
It would of course be “better for the Western powers not to flirt with de-colonization” lest they find themselves its victims. “But in the end, we don’t really care about their fate;” and “we must recognize that plans for the dismemberment of Russia are “not just the dreams of Russophobic old men. They are what the West really wants.
For the present, all those concerned about the fate of Russia should focus on “all those who use ‘decolonial’ rhetoric inside the country,” lest “we repeat the mistakes” of the final years of the Soviet Union during which republic academies and writers’ unions nurtured nationalists and separatists at state expense.” Russia has a future “only as a single and indivisible state.”
Three aspects of Karaulov’s argument are especially noteworthy. First, he acknowledges that the struggle for the future of the Russian Federation is not going to be between Russians and non-Russians but among those Moscow currently considers to be Russians, however those people in fact define themselves ethnically or regionally.
This is striking because recently many Russian writers have been comforting themselves with the notion that the Russian Federation can’t disintegrate as the USSR did because the non-Russian share of its population is far lower than its share in the Soviet one was 30 years ago. Clearly, he doesn’t think that, a sign he sees the demise of the RF coming from elsewhere.
Second, the commentator says that Moscow must recognize the danger and take action by promoting separatism in any country that takes up the cause of the de-colonization of the Russian Federation. And third, he calls for a massive crackdown and likely purge of regional as well as republic universities, academies of science and other groups.
Karaulov’s tone is clearly alarmist, but he is likely to attract followers having succeeded in publishing this analysis in the influential Moscow newspaper Vzglyad. At the very least, those concerned about human rights, individual as well as collective, in the Russian Federation and the stability of other countries as well should be on the lookout for the moves he urges.