Sunday, October 30, 2022

Moksha Emigration Comes Out Against War in Ukraine and for an Independent Moksha State

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – Mordvinia seldom has received much attention except as the site of some of Stalin’s most notorious GULAG camps and as an example of a relatively rare kind of Soviet ethnic engineering, the fusion of two peoples who believe themselves to be separate peoples into a single Mordvin nation.

            Recently, that has begun to change not only because of demographics inside Mordvinia (, and but also because of the activism of the émigré leaders of one of these two communities, the Erzya ( and

            The other people of Mordvinia, the Moksha, have been less often heard from. This is because the leadership of Mordvinia in recent years has been drawn from the Moksha more than from the Erzya, disposing the former to be less critical than the latter and because, as a result of school consolidation and urbanization, the Moksha appear to have been the more Russianized.

            But now, a new group of Moksha emigres based in Budapest, is speaking out and making many of the same demands that the Erzya and other non-Russian groups are – non-participation in Putin’s aggressive war in Ukraine and independence for themselves from Moscow (

            The appearance of this group and its demand shows the ethnic divide in Mordvinia is very much alive and has now taken a form which will be far more difficult for Moscow to use given its propensity for divide-and-rule tactics. Now both sides are opposed to the Kremlin, reducing the change Moscow can either play one off against the other or unite them under itself

            The Moksha must decide, the appeal begins whether they are going to “completely dissolve in the so-called ‘Russian sea’ or to gain long overdue sovereignty. We the Mokshas twice had an opportunity for that, in 1917 and in 1991. Now, the situation has been further exacerbated by the Kremlin’s so-called ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine.”

            “We have something to be proud of, despite the Russification of a large part of the Mokshas, the self-awareness and subjectivity gradually disappearing among new generations.,” the appeal continues. “Our language has been written since the time of the Khazar Khaganate.” We must “no longer humiliate ourselves by artificially hiding our Mokshan nature behind ‘Russianness.’”

Moreover, “we have before our eyes a vivid example of related Finno-Ugric folks of Europe: Finns, Estonians and Hungarians, who were able not only to preserve their uniqueness, but also use it as an advantage. Each of them has achieved the transformation of their Motherland into one of the advanced and democratic countries, and today they are successfully working not for Moscow, but for their future.”

The émigré group continues: “We are your compatriots, and we appeal to you. Wake up and stop being afraid, first of yourself and your roots, and then of the colonial regime of Moscow, which hiding behind claims of good intentions, using our people for its own bloodthirsty interests.”

“It’s already obvious,” the appeal says, “that the Kremlin is weakening and soon will no longer be able to dictate its terms to us, so the time has come for national self-determination. We, who are here abroad, are ready to help you in any way we can … we all need to realize that nothing and no one will stop an idea whose time has come.”

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