Monday, November 27, 2023

Duma Deputy Wants New Law on Russian People to End References to Multi-National Nature of Country’s Population

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 25 – Arguing that “there are many nations in Russia but only one people,” Duma deputy Sultan Khamzayev is calling for the adoption of a law on the Russian people that will replace the concept of “the multi-national people” of the Russian Federation with the idea that the country includes a single “Russian [russky] people.”

            According to the deputy, “there was a Soviet people” but after 1991 “there began a play on words.” There must be a common term for all, he argues. “The Russian people today are the Slavs, the multi-national people of Daghestan, Tatarstan, Chechnya, Bashkortostan, Udmurtia and Sakha” (

            Talk about non-ethnic Russians (Rossiyane), the Daghestani deputy continues, was a Yeltsin innovation – and a mistake. “If in Daghestan, we converse in Russian, such as between Dargins and Kumyks, aren’t we a single people? The Daghestani one and globally, the Russian one.”

            Using an expression first popularized by Daghestani poet Rasul Gamzatov, Khamzayev says that “in Daghestan, I am an Avar; in Moscow, I am a Daghestani, and abroad, I am a Russian [russky]”

            His proposal appears to catch the spirit of much of what Putin has been saying, but there appears little likelihood that the Duma will approve his draft bill. Ildar Gilmutdinov, vice chairman of the Duma’s nationalities committee, says that Khamzayev’s ideas are at odds with Russia’s nationality policy strategy and cannot be accepted (

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