Staunton, Feb. 15 – The Seven by Seven portal has been working in the numerically smaller federal subjects of Russia for 12 years. It unites more than 1700 bloggers and activists from outside of Moscow to report on developments of the 90 percent of the Russian Federation that many in Moscow and the West all too often ignore.
It has now posted an enormous collection of files about what it calls “the non-Russian world,” the nearly one-third of the population of the Russian Federation that identifies as other than part of the Russian world the Putin regime promotes or at least chooses not to identify with it (lr.semnasem.org/nonrussian/).
The files grouped under the rubric of Russian nationality policy today ae especially valuable. And one of the experts Seven by Seven draws on, Dmitry Berezhkov, the editor of the Russia of Indigenous Peoples site, makes an especially important point about the way in which Putin conducts nationality policy (lr.semnasem.org/nonrussian/#politica).
Like many of his predecessors, the editor says, Putin uses people from the security services to run the Kremlin’s nationality policy but even more than those before him, he has promoted “the festivalization of nationality policy” as a way to distract attention from real problems and avoid their being discussed let alone addressed.
“Each month are an unending series of congresses, festivals, and meetings,” Berezhkov says. “It is a major problem when the government devotes attention not to the internal content such as language or traditional forms of economic activity but to externalities such as scenes which can be photographed and then put into reports.”
He notes that even Igor Barinov, the FSB officer Putin has installed as head of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, has on occasion acknowledged that this is a problem; but as a loyal executor of Putin’s policies, Barinov has continued this “festivalization” of a part of life that deserves something more.