Staunton, Jan. 16 – Fifty years ago, the author of these lines attended a brilliant lecture by Alexandre Bennigsen on the origins of the national movements in the Middle Volga region of the Russian empire at the end of the 19th century in which he described the plethora of organizations involved.
The other University of Chicago students dutifully wrote down all the names of these groups and the programs they came up with; but then someone discovered that none of these groups had more than a dozen members, sparking the question as to why we were listening to a detailed discussion of them decades after the fact.
That objection seemed damning in the extreme to many at the time, but Professor Bennigsen was correct to talk about them because it was out of these discussion groups that the future was being prepared. Something similar appears to be happening in groups based on the Internet today.
It is so easy to form such a group that they are springing up across the territory now occupied by the Russian Federation and precisely because there are so many and the numbers of people paying attention to them is often so small, it is easy to dismiss them as an irrelevance. But in fact, once again, it may be in these small groups that the future is being born.
Today, three telegram channels, the Pskov Republic one at t.me/pskrep with 352 subscribers, the Smalandia (Smolensk Land) one at t.me/smalandia/ with 584 and the Tver Land one at t.me/tverzem with 173 followers have announced the formation of a group called the Eastern Kryvian Platform (telegra.ph/Vostochno-Krivskaya-Platforma-01-16).
The group says that it is pursuing “the restoration in contemporary form of the ancient but now lost statehood of the Pskov, Smolensk and Tver principalities, is open to cooperation with its neighbors and seeks to integrate the region within “the civilizational space of the [medieval] Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Whether this remains only an Internet project or becomes the basis of a political movement is uncertain. At present, the basis for the latter seems slim; but what happened in the Middle Volga over a century ago suggests that monitoring these groups is critically important because it almost certainly will be the case that out of one of them will emerge the future.
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