Wednesday, March 1, 2023

After Russia Disintegrates, Siberia Should have a Status like Antarctica, Saltayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 28 – Ever more commentators are discussing how Russia might fall apart after Putin with the range of ideas of what the post-Russia future would look like increasing in size. Now, a writer for the Turan news agency has come up with a new idea: he suggests that Siberia should have a status like Antarctica and be controlled by UN forces.

            Such an arrangement, Nurlan Saltayev said, would save the region that Moscow and Russian oligarchs have been killing and allow time for the various indigenous peoples to decide on how they would like to organize their future rather than compel them to immediately pursue independence or accept continuing Russian rule (

            He suggests that such an arrangement is necessary because the indigenous peoples of Siberia and the Far East are small in number compared to the Russians whom Moscow has moved in and often are widely dispersed over areas they would find difficult to control without outside protection such as what the UN could provide.

            Saltayev says that such an arrangement should be planned for now and could be implemented at the same time that the nations of the North Caucasus and the Middle Volga achieve independence and would protect both these numerically small peoples and the enormous land they live on from further depradations.

            Coincidentally but instructively, Igor Chikarskikh of the Sibreal portal offers a discussion of an effort by three Turkic peoples in Siberia, the Khakass, the Altai and the Shors, to form a Union of Siberian Turks in the early 1930s and the Soviet crackdown against this little known effort (

            Because they realized that they could protect themselves was by uniting, the intellectual elites of the three came together in 1932. Two years later, the Soviets arrested about 40 of them and then three years later during the Great Terror reopened their cases and executed the Union’s members, burying them in unmarked graves.

            Chikarskikh’s article is important for three reasons. First, it makes clear that there really was an effort to unite the three Turkic peoples in Siberia and that this was not the invention of the Soviet secret police to meet Stalin’s quotas. Second, it highlights that some of those involved were able to flee abroad and continue their activities there.

            And third, and by far the most important, it shows that the history of this case remains very much alive among the three Turkic peoples there, not only as an important mile post in their common national histories but as an idea that at least some continue to be animated by, the need for unity among smaller peoples to protect themselves against Moscow and the Russians.

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