Staunton, Dec. 26 – The Pomor movement which includes both those who identify as Pomors ethnically and those around them who identify with the region as a whole are on course to creating “a second Ukraine” in Northern Russia, according to Dmitry Semushkin, an Arkhangelsk historian who specializes on the historical geography of the Russian North.
This threat is still in its early stages, he warns in a detailed historical discussion on the APN portal; but it is increasingly dangerous not only because many in Moscow fail to recognize this as a problem but also because many officials in the Russian North and Western governments are actively supporting it (apn.ru/index.php?newsid=42885).
Until the collapse of the USSR, the number of people who identified as Pomors, residents of the shorelines of the Arctic Sea and adjoining rivers, was microscoptically small, no more than a few thousand. But after 1991, regional officials and outside agitators encouraged others in the region to identify with them.
As a result, the number of people in the North who identify as Pomors has continued to grow, increasingly presenting themselves as ethnically and culturally distinct from the Great Russian nation because of their lack of a tradition of serfdom and their commitment to a particular way of life.
According to Semushkin, this would not be a problem for anyone if only those who were genuinely Pomor recognized themselves as such. But unfortunately, that identity is spreading to many who in fact should remain Great Russians by nationality, undermining the unity of the nation and the country.
Some regional officials and even more foreign activists support this, seeing it as a way out from under Moscow’s control; but this new “imagined identity” he suggests threatens to tear apart the Russian nation every bit as much as what he suggests was the outside creation of Ukrainian identity in the 19th and 20th centuries.
If Moscow does not take action both against the activists domestic and foreign and against regional officials who are either ignoring the problem or actively promoting it, then Russia will face another Ukraine, whose potential impact on Russian identity could prove even more pernicious than Ukrainianism has.
For many years, Semushkin has warned about the supposed dangers of Pomor identity in the region – see, for example, his 2011 article at severinform.ru/lenta/?full_id=141402 – but his current language is the most dramatic and apocalyptic yet reflecting his concerns and undoubtedly those of others that Russian national identity is in fact far weaker than Moscow thinks.
(For background on Pomor issue, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/10/pomor-nation-building-in-1990s-shows.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/in-north-some-ethnic-russians-again.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/04/pomor-lands-not-yet-proud-catalonia-but.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/optimization-means-liquidation-pomors.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/11/pomors-seen-in-moscow-as-ethnic.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/06/in-russian-north-official-ethnic.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/03/window-on-eurasia-pomors-invoke-un.html and windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2007/04/window-on-eurasia-new-kind-of-ethnic.html.)
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