Saturday, September 23, 2023

Russian Opposition and Regionalists Must Start Talking to One Another, Garayev Says

Paul Goble

          Staunton, Sept. 13 – At present, few in the all-Russian opposition are talking with regionalists and those who favor secession and few of the latter are taking into consideration either the views of the opposition or of the population as a whole, according to Emil Garayev, a Tatarstan activist who has a foot in both camps.

          That must change for progress to take place, the former Khodorkovsky associate in Tatarstan says; and he suggests that he personally would not be opposed to the emergence of Russian parties in that republic and in others as a means to help the two groups interact more intensively (

          Many in the Russian opposition take a hard line against any moves toward independence by the regions – and Garayev says that most of the radical regionalists have an ethnic base – and many in the regionalist-nationalist camp simply ignore the opposition, viewing it as little better than the Kremlin as far as their issues are concerned.

          That makes the two scenarios most discussed, collapse of the country or the development of genuine federalization, far more difficult to achieve, he continues, especially at a time when a war is going on and neither group can claim to have good information about what the population of the country or its components thinks.

          According to Garayev, “the preservation of the Russian Federation is not just the initiative of some Russian oppositionists but also is supported by the West, because it is beneficial for the West to interact even with the current regime despite the fact that Moscow is waging a bloody war.”

          “It will be very easy for the West to interact with this regime if the war ends tomorrow,” the Tatarstan activist says. Western countries “will maintain these ties, lift sanctions and continue to work with the Putin regime.” As a result, “saving Russia” in this sense is easier; but there is a problem; “revanchism is possible,” and perhaps even more so if same regime remains in power.

           As far as what kind of countries might emerge if the Russian Federation does disintegration, Garayev says that his native Tatarstan and neighboring Bashkortostan might have gone in the Turkmenistan direction in 1990 but that now there are more chances that they would proceed in much the same way the Baltic countries have.

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