Saturday, January 21, 2023

Russian Identity Fragmenting Because Ever Fewer Russians Want to Take Responsibility for the Entire Empire, Amangildin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 18 – Vladimir Putin’s aggressive nationalism at home and abroad has sparked a crisis in Russian identity because ever fewer Russians want to take responsibility for the entire empire and instead are reidentifying themselves as regionalists and forming alliances with non-Russians, Shamil Amangildin says.

            The head of the Bashkortostan Section of the Federative Party says that Putin’s effort to destroy the non-Russians within the Russian Federation and his aggression against Russia’s neighbors has backfired on him, generating not more support for his brand of nationalism but revulsion against it among many Russians (

            As a result, “many who had considered themselves Russians have begun to distance themselves from an ethnic Russian identity,” first ethnic Russians in Ukraine who have become part of a Ukrainian political nation as a result of Putin’s aggression but then Russians in the Russian Federation who are now identify with regions rather than the country as a whole.

            This collapse of the ideology of Putin’s Russian world already has had four major consequences:

·       First, “the rise of a number of regional identities among people who earlier had an ‘all-Russian’ one, including those who identify as people of the Urals, Siberians, Ingermanlanders and others as well.

·       Second, “an intensification of centrifugal attitudes among those with a Russian regional identities,” people who increasingly recognize that “their Motherland is above all their region and not the entire territory of the Russian Federation.”

·       Third, “an intensification of centrifugal attitudes among non-Russian minorities, since now Russians with regional identities are becoming their allies in the struggle with the imperial metropolis, the Kremlin.”

·       And fourth, a conviction among those in both parts of this new alliance of the belief that “the imperial vertical of power is too burdensome and the time has come to dispense with it” by forming a genuinely contractual federal state.

In the turmoil that will undoubtedly ensure following the departure of Putin from the scene, there is the risk that for a short time, Russia may develop according to a North Korean scenario, Amangildin says, with an iron curtain and full-blown totalitarianism. But this won’t last long because of the growing regionalization of Russian identities.

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