Tuesday, September 27, 2022

‘Ingria will Be Free’ – Petersburg Hip Hop Artist Takes Regionalist Movement to a New Level

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 27 – Estonia’s drive to recover its de facto independence at the end of Soviet times was known as “the singing revolution” because music played such a key role in organizing and defining that nation’s feelings about itself and about the crimes the Soviets visited upon them during the occupation.

            Now a new but analogous “singing revolution” may be under way among the Ingermanlanders or Ingrians, a growing regionalist movement in the northwestern portion of the Russian Federation which combines both ethnic and regionalist goals but which until very recently many people there had never heard of.

            In a commentary for Holod media, St. Petersburg writer Dmitry Simanovsky says that the actions of hip hop artist Oxymoron four million people most of whom knew nothing about Ingermanland heard about it because the singer ended one of his songs with the words “Ingria will be free?” (holod.media/2022/09/24/simanosvski-ingria/).

            Simanovsky suggests this is a breakthrough moment for Ingermanland/Ingria because far more people will know be aware of the place, the people and the movement, which as he points out is as much a regionalist as a nationalist one since most of its activists are not ethnically Ingrian but rather local patriots who have chosen to identify with the historical group.

            (For background on Ingermanland or Ingria and efforts by its supporters to organize at various points over the last 120 years, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/a-new-aspirant-to-be-fourth-baltic.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/regionalist-movements-now-under-kremlin.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/06/regionalism-threatens-russia-today-way.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/05/by-attacking-free-ingria-leader-moscow.html, and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/10/window-on-eurasia-ingermanland-is-ready.html.)

            After tracing the history of the movement, Simanovsky makes the following important observation: “Today it is becoming ever clear that the establishment of local mythologies and of identities arising from them is the most important mid-term task of Petersburgers, people of the Urals, Pomors, Siberians, Kuban people, Stavropol residents and so on.”

            Without intending to, he continues, Vladimir Putin has opened the way for this by playing “the separatist card in Ukraine,” effectively digging his own grave. This will play out most easily in the non-Russian republics but it will also open the way for separatism in predominantly ethnic Russian ones as well.

            Songs like the one Oxymoron sang are thus a critical step forward, Simanovsky argues. They ensure that “Ingria will be free” and that others will be free as well, the result of more singing revolutions and revolutions of other kinds as well.

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