Sunday, June 18, 2023

In Mari El, Day of Russia Only for Ethnic Russians, Anonymous Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – Even though the Day of Russia is defined by law as a holiday for all peoples of the Russian Federation and even though in Mari El, the Maris and the Tatars form significant portions of the population, only ethnic Russians were on the dais of official commemoration of that date and no non-Russian symbols were featured in the celebration.

            A Mari observer, writing anonymously under the pen name “Accidental Passerby,” points out that all the officials on the platforms were ethnic Russians and that the square featured only Russian flags. No Maris or Tatars were included, not even the loyal heads of the Mari traditional religion or the Tatar Muslim establishment (

            All this “creates the impression,” the observer says, “that in Mari El the Day of Russia has become a purely ethnic Russian holiday and even recalls the extremist slogan, popular in the 1990s among representatives of prohibited neo-Nazi groups, ‘Russia for the Russians.” Even more, this pattern calls attention to the fact that in the Mari El elite, there are no Maris at all.

            If Russia is becoming only “for the ethnic Russians,” he suggests, then the non-Russians there have little choice but to withdraw or face assimilation and extinction, a choice that they are being compelled to make not by radicals among their own groups but by the behavior of the Kremlin and its allies. 

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