Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Muscovites Today ‘New Historical Community’ on Model of Failed Effort to Form Soviet People, Basovskaya Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 1 – Russians beyond the ring road today tell anecdotes about Muscovites much as they told jokes about Chukchis in Soviet times, a sign that Muscovites have become a kind of “new historical community,” one which has many characteristics of the failed Soviet effort to create an analogous one for the USSR, Yevgeniya Basovskaya says.

            “In general,” the philologist at the Russian State University of the Humanities says, “Most is the best operating model of a phenomenon much talked about in Soviet times. We were then taught that a new historical community had been formed in the USSR – the Soviet people” (

            Most people assume that the Soviet people disappeared along with the Soviet Union, but in fact, Basovskaya says, it has been preserved “with the utmost care” in Moscow.  “I have lived there since birth and among my friends are native Muscovites and visitors, Russians and people of other nationalities.”

            “Every day, I see Uzbek janitors and Moldovan shop assistants, and I speak Russian with them. I really love my huge, vain, always in a hurry and never sleepy city. And if in the end, it didn’t work out with the Soviet people, then we have to admit that we have formed a new historical community – the Moscow people?”

            As often happens, people outside of the city have seen this first and embodied their observations in a variety of anecdotes about how different the people of the capital are from themselves, how their behavior and even their language are different, and how they behave differently when they are among non-Muscovites.

            Basovskaya buttresses her conclusion by pointing to the many occasions on which non-Muscovites in Russia speak of “Muscovites,” often critically, when the latter come into the domain of the non-Muscovites and think they can behave in exactly the same way they do in their own domain, the Russian capital. 

            ManyRussians beyond the ring road see Muscovites as a different nation than themselves. That may be overstating where things are, but the comparison with Muscovite identity now with the new historical community of Soviet times suggests how far they have moved in that direction and how ephemeral that new identity may prove once the Russian Federation falls apart.

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