Saturday, July 22, 2023

Russian Liberals and Non-Russian Nationalists Clash Not Only in Emigration but Inside Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – The tensions between Russian liberals and non-Russian activists in emigration have attracted a great deal of attention, but at least some observers dismiss their divisions as a tempest in a teapot and thus more inclined to dismiss one of the other and most often making them ready to think that the Russia liberals speak for the opposition in Russia.

            But in fact, these divisions between liberals who believe Russia can and should be transformed while remaining in its current borders and nationalists who are convinced that freedom and democracy are possible only if Russia dissolves are very much part of the political debate in the regions and republics of the Russian Federation.

            That is suggested by an article on the IdelReal portal which surveys the conflicts between the two groups in the Middle Volga region, specifically between Aleksey Navalny’s Foundation for the Struggle against Corruption which promotes the liberal view and Tatar and Bashkir activists and experts who back the nationalist one (

            The arguments and emotions of the two sides in the Middle Volga  closely resemble those of the two sides in the emigration, a pattern that suggests that those who assume the liberals are predominant are wrong and that the nationalists should be given far more attention than is typically the case.

            It may be true that if all the liberals in all the regions and republics within the current borders of the Russian Federation are added together that they are more numerous than the nationalists in any one place, but it is almost certainly the case that in the regions and republics, the reverse is true.

            And that in turn means that the nationalists and regionalists deserve more attention than they are currently receiving and the assumption that the liberals speak for a vast majority of people in Russia, especially outside of Moscow, must be rejected if observers are to form an accurate picture of what is going on.


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