Staunton, Mar. 16 – The nominally Russian oblasts and krays in the Russian Far East and elsewhere have the same basic problems and basic aspirations as do non-Russian republics, and those problems and aspirations make them fundamentally different than the ethnic Russians in Moscow with whom they are typically lumped together, Rolan Avdeyev says.
And thus it is the case, the regionalist argues, that “national self-consciousness understood as a sense of a shared similarity among members of a given multiplicity does not necessarily require a separate ethnos or phenotype but can be constructed around any ‘imagined’ sign, using Benedict Anderson’s conception” (posle.media/tihookeanskaya-respublika/).
The Russian Far East and its people are not at all the same as their supposed co-ethnics in Moscow or St. Petersburg. The world around them is different than the Russian world Moscow talks about and the lives they lead because they are in regions that have been deprived of their rights only intensifies their sense of that distinction.
Russian nationalists are very aware of this and have been complaining that Moscow has not conducted effective “Great Russian propaganda” in regions far from the center and thus has opened the way for the rise of a culture that is more Far Eastern than Russian (e.g., ruskline.ru/news_rl/2021/02/24/revolyuciya_separatizm_i_buduwee_rossii_na_dalnem_vostoke and ruskline.ru/news_rl/2021/03/02/proekt_tihookeanskaya_rossiya_i_ugroza_separatizma).
Moreover, Avdeyev says, “the so called ‘Far East’ of Russia has an enormous layer of its own culture, one that is not just Russian-language culture which arose only with the start of Russian colonization of these lands but in the first instance of ancient civilizations which are much older than Kievan Rus.”
The Russian speakers in the Far East live among numerous non-Russians, both those who have their own republics and those which form an important component of what are said to be Russian oblasts and krays, like the ethnic Ukrainians and the ethnic Koreans, although Moscow in recent years has done all it can to minimize reports about them and their number in the census.
According to Avdeyev, “today, the federation in Russia has in fact been destroyed. In this Russia, the public sphere is only that which takes place in Moscow or between Moscow and the regions. Whatever takes place within the regions remains in the sphere of the private,” that is, something not recognized as political.
“Today in the Russian Federation,” he continues, “a region is not a subject of the federation but a fief given by the tsar (Moscow) to its agent, the governor. The main task of the latter is to constantly demonstrate to the center that in the territory entrusted to him, he is the only authority and controls everything, thus guaranteeing its and his loyalty.”
“Liquidating this imperial consciousness can be achieved only by means of liquidating the empire itself,” the activist says. “Only when the borderlands are able to cease to be borderlands, and the Far East ceases to be far will there be freedom not only for ‘the far easterners’ but for the residents of a notional Central Russia.”
The area from Sakha to the Pacific Ocean shore “needs political and economic autonomy with the chance to adopt its own laws on all questions and the nationalization of major branches of industry” lest they fall into the hands of outsiders who will use them against the population.
Such “a subject” might be called the Asian-Pacific States or the Asian-Pacific Socialist States of the Pacific Ocean Federal Republic.” Its languages should be those of the national republics, Russian, Ukrainian and Korean, and it should based on the cooperation of subunits of roughly the same level of economic development.
Such an autonomy, Avdeyev says, should maintain a common economic space with other macro-subjects of the Russian Federation like Siberia and the Urals. Indeed, “if the historical and economic space ‘Russia’ has a place in the future, it could be that it will only exist in such a framework.”