Monday, August 14, 2023

Ingrian Regionalists and Ingrian Nationalists have Very Different Agendas -- but Both Threaten Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 10 – Ingrian regionalists seek an independent supra-ethnic state in the northwestern quadrant of what is now the Russian Federation, while Ingrian nationalists favor the restoration of an Ingrian nation state, an entity that would be far smaller but whose leaders may be more radical.

            But Moscow is worried about both because each threatens the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and because in its eyes, the Ingrians are really Finns who may cooperate with Finland, a country now in the Western Alliance (

            That makes two new articles, on in Novaya Gazeta Yevropa and a second on the SevReal portal especially important, for those who want to understand the often complex relationships between regionalism and nationalism not only in Russia’s northwest but across the country ( and

            Both make it clear that this division reflects the complex histories of these border areas and Moscow’s policies which in turn reflect its approach to and understanding of what relationship Ingrians and other Finno-Ugric peoples have to foreigners and why it is the case that on occasion, “Ingermanlanders are against other Ingermanlanders.”

            Ingermanland as a region would have a multi-national population of some five million people; Ingermanland as a nation state would occupy a much smaller region to the north of St. Petersburg and have only as many as 50,000. But both projects have the potential to be models for others and to interact with each other in the future.

            At present, the number of activists for each is relatively small; and most of these are in emigration. But the debates they are engaging in about what to do when the Russian Federation dissolves are an indication of how people in various regions are trying to use both regions and nationalities to achieve their goals.        

            For background on the Ingermanders and their movements, see Ott Kurs , “Ingria: The Broken Landbridge Between Estonia and Finland,” GeoJournal 33.1 (1994): 107–113; Ian Matley, “The Dispersal of the Ingrian Finns,” Slavic Review 38:1 (1979): 1-16;,,,,,,, and

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