Sunday, July 16, 2023

Many Non-Russian Republics Becoming More Mono-Ethnic, Tishkov Warns

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 13 – “Ethnic Russians will retain their overwhelming majority” in the Russian Federation, Academician Valery Tishkov says; but “there are some negative trends,” including “the growth of mono-ethnicity of the population of a number of republics” where non-titular nationalities including Russians are leaving.

            These include Tyva, Buryatia, Kalmykia, and the republics of the North Caucasus where ethnic Russians are becoming ever fewer, the former director of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and former Russian Federation nationalities minister says (

            Those leaving aren’t being forced out, Tishkov continues. “The law doesn’t allow this;” but if you can’t achieve the advancement you want and expect because you are not a member of the titular nationality, then some will decide to leave to go where that is possible – and often for ethnic Russians, this is in the Russian Federation.

           He does not say how this should be addressed; but the obvious implication of his remarks is that Moscow should intervene to protect the status of ethnic Russians in these republics so as to ensure that Russians won't leave and the titular nationalities won't feel in a better position to pursue independence as happened at the end of Soviet times in the union republics.

            In the course of his wide-ranging interview, the senior Russian ethnographer makes a variety of points. Three are perhaps especially noteworthy. First, he suggests that he accepts the idea that Russia should be viewed as a northern country rather than part of the East or West given that 60 percent of its territory is in the permafrost zone.

            Second, Tishkov argues that much of the interest in ethnic groups is a response to the unfortunate influence of globalism and mass culture, an effort by the peoples involved to safe themselves from the leveling of global values. He does not speak to the way in which regional hegemons may be responsible for the situation in their own areas.

            And third, he notes that conflicts in recent decades between substate groups are “sometimes more violent and more frequent than clashes between states.” That also contributes to the growing interest people have to the impact of “small cultural differences” that seem to have such outsized consequences.

            Provocatively and disturbingly, he gives two examples of this: the Hutus and Tutsis in Africa and the Ukrainians and Russians in Eurasia, thus lumping what is happening in Ukraine as a result of Putin’s invasion of that country into the genocidal conflict between two African tribal groups earlier.

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