Friday, June 16, 2023

Regional and Ethnic Identities Reinforcing One Another, Komi Editor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 12 – Valera Ilinov, editor of the Komi Daily (, says that regional and ethnic identities do not contradict but rather reinforce on another and that her publication like others in non-Russian regions of the Russian Federation must cover the ways in which they interact.

            One is speaking about “the intersection of two agendas,” she says. “At the beginning of the 20th century, Komi were the majority of the population on these territories; but now that is not the case. Now, there are many representatives of other nationalities who have connected their life with the Republic.”

            “Our task consists in uniting such people with those who already view themselves as Komi. The position is simple: ‘Your ancestors may not have been Komi, but if you live here, if you are interested in culture and language, and if you are integrated into the local community, then you can be Komi as well.”

            It turns out, Ilinov says, that “one of the tasks of the Komi Daily project is not simply to talk about identity but to help those who want to become Komi. “This representation is combined with the tasks of the study of culture and the formation of a civic nation” in the republic. Thus, the project must talk about things the authorities and their media are not.

            Ilinov’s comments were reported by the Dokha news service which surveyed her and the leaders of four other media projects in the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation, including those from Chuvashia, Ingushetia, Buryatia, and the North Caucasus (

            After reporting their comments, the Dokha outlet addresses the question of the possible disintegration of Russia. Many people fear that but “if one looks at criminal statistics, there is almost no separatism in Russia.” Over the last decade, only 19 people have been charged with challenging the country’s “territorial integrity.”

            But at the same time, the outlet points out, “separatist discourse did not appear in Russian public discussions out of nowhere. National movements calling for revising the balance of power between the federal center and the subjects have been crushed” as harbingers of separatist ideas, and their leaders repressed. Despite this, nationalist protests have continued.

            However, as the leaders of the independent non-Russian media point out, Russian language media in both Moscow and the republics often ignores these protests entirely or treats them in fundamentally “mistaken” ways. The non-Russian non-government outlets often provide the only corrections available.

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