Monday, December 12, 2022

Mordovia’s Erzya and Moksha Look to Independent Futures, Both Together and Apart

Paul Goble

Staunton, Dec. 11 -- At end of Soviet times, Mordvinia was one of only two autonomous republics in the RSFSR that did not declare sovereignty, a reflection of the dominance of ethnic Russians there and low level of mobilization among the two component parts of the Mordvin nation (in Soviet and Russian understanding), the Erzya and the Moksha.

But three developments since that time have changed the attitudes of these two peoples. First, both have been outraged by the ever more draconian forms of Russianization and Russification Moscow has adopted and have formed small but active national movements to defend themselves (, and  

Second, as the combined total of Erzya and Moksha has grown, approaching 50 percent of the population and thus outnumbering the ethnic Russians, Moscow has played up the two identities in the hopes of preventing them from challenging the Russians and thus Moscow’s control (

            And third, vocal diasporas of both Erzyas and Mokshas have emerged, diasporas that are now actively discussing whether they should pursue separate independent statehood or a federative state that would combine the two of them either as a half-way house or as the final

            Not surprisingly, perhaps in the often overheated émigré milieu, radicals calling for separate national states appear to have the upper hand ( and

            But there are intriguing signs in both groups that a federal arrangement, either as a way station to ultimate separation or as a goal in and of itself, is attracting more support, an indication perhaps that many Erzya and Moksha believe independence may be imminent and that they will do better if they work together (

            This growing interest in a federal Mordvinia may also reflect the conclusions of activists on both sides that Moscow will seek to exploit any divisions between them just as it has done so often in the past. 

No comments:

Post a Comment