Sunday, January 28, 2024

After Moscow Labelled Them ‘Foreign Agents, Leaders of Karelian, Smolensk and Ingush National Movements Speak Out

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 25 – Having just been declared “foreign agents” by the Russian government (, the leaders of three national movements, the Karelian, Smolensk and Ingush, are attracting more attention and are now speaking out about their goals and activities.

            Speaking for the Karelians is Vladislav Nobel-Oleynik, 27, a Pomor who has been in emigration since September 2022. He says he has been involved in ethnic activism for more than a decade but decided to increase his activities after Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine (

            “I decided,” he says, “that the time had come when Russia may experience its final stage of disintegration and that Karlia like the other Finno-Ugric republics finally have a chance to achieve independence.” He takes his designation as a foreign agent as a sign that Moscow recognizes the danger it now faces.

            “The Karelian national movement consists of ethno-regionalists, people who represent the national minority of the northern region,” Nobel-Oleynik says. “We have Ingermanland Finns, Finns, Korels, Vepsy, Pomors, Kola Norwegians, and Saami. In addition, there are many GULAG exiles.”

            Vladislav Zhivitz, head of the Smolensk Republic Center (which was founded in August 2023), earlier served as a deputy in the Smolensk Oblast Duma but has now gone into emigration where he is promoting Smolensk identity and organizing the drafting of a national program that foresees that region as an independent country closely allied with a post-Lukashenka Belarus.

            At present, he says, “we are helping out supporters to get asylum in Europe and plan to present for public discussion a draft of a Constitution of the Smolensk Republic.” In addition, his group is pressing for the establishment of a unit of Smolensk volunteers who will fight alongside others for the freedom of Ukraine.

            And Ruslan Iouloy, spokesman for Akhmad Ozdo, head of the Committee for Ingush Independence (a group also established last year),  says that group too is preparing for the “approaching disintegration of the Russian Federation” and views its identification by Moscow as a foreign agent as a sign that the Kremlin sees this as a real possibility.

            According to Iouloy, the group will soon launch “’a department of legal defense’ to provide help to people seeking asylum or persecuted for political reasons for their resistance to the regime and so on. We are certain that t his will be only the beginning and expect the Russian government to give us a multitude of such ‘honors.’”

(For background, see (Karelia), (Smolensk) and (Ingushetia).)

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