Sunday, November 13, 2022

Ukrainian War has Left Russian Nationalists Divided and Likely will Lead to Many Regionally Based Russian Nationalisms after It Ends, ‘Cherta’ Survey Concludes

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 12 – Vladimir Putin’s expanded invasion of Ukraine this year has left Russian nationalists deeply divided and likely means that they will remain so, with the most influential strains not being those that seek to speak for the Russian nation as a whole but rather for Russians in this or that region, a survey of Russian nationalists by Cherta says.

            The news agency notes that for many Russian nationalists, Putin’s actions have been the fulfillment of their dreams. But others object to the use of force to do that, a third group now insists that Putin has done more to unite the Ukrainian nation than the Russian one, and a fourth says it is too early to speak of Russian nationalism at all (

            At the same time, Academician Vladimir Malakhov of the Moscow Institute of Philosophy says that any effort to create a political Russian was largely doomed by the events of the 1990s which saw some Russians fall into poverty while others became absurdly rich. Neither wants to identify with the other.

            And the Russian state hasn’t helped by considering as ethnic Russians “all citizens who are loyal” to the state and not as Russians any who aren’t, excluding the latter from the nation and making its further consolidation extremely problematic.

            According to Aleksandr Verkhovsky of the SOVA Center, there is no clearly defined Russian movement largely because of repression and mixed signals from the Kremlin. Moscow political scientist Aleksandr Shmelyev agrees and says that “in the near future, this ideology will appear only in the form of local nationalisms.”

            These will include people like Siberian, Sakha and Karelian nationalists “who will push local identities as a unifying force.” They will have an opening, Shmelyev says, because they will blame the war on the empire and oppose their portion of the Russian population to it. But they won’t be able to organize and attract all Russians across the country to their side.

            Sergey Sergeyev, the historian who edits Voprosy Natsionalizma, agrees, arguing that “the authorities will not realize the program of Russian nationalism in Russia” because for the Kremlin elite many of its allies are the national elites and the Kremlin doesn’t want to get into a fight with them.

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