Thursday, January 11, 2024

After RF Disintegrates, New Russian State Must Arise where Central Federal District is Now and without Moscow as Its Capital, Lazarenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 9 – Two of the most important questions about the future of Eurasia are ones that all too few regionalists and non-Russian nationalists are prepared to ask: will a Russian state nonetheless continue to exist? And if it does, what borders will it have and what relations will it have with its neighbors?

            An exception to that is provided by Ilya Lazarenko, a Russian nationalist who argues that a new Russian nation state must arise, something that can happen only if it is reduced close to the borders of what is now the Central Federal District, shifts its capital out of Moscow, and develops cooperative relations with its neighbors (

            He is the founder of the Zalesskaya Rus civic initiative, a group that seeks to free Russians from Moscow and to have them form a new “Great Russia” not to assert their commonality with Ukrainians and Belarusians but the fundamental distinctiveness of the three East Slavic nations.

            Lazarenko explains his choice of the name Zalesya for a new Great Russian state as coming from the place in which the Russian nation emerged, a region that was called Zalesya or “beyond the forest,” when viewed from the perspective of Kyiv or the West at that time, a region that emerged “beyond the forest” from the perspective of Kyiv in medieval times.

            The Great Russians, he argues, were the first victims of Muscovite imperialism; and thus it is important to recognize that “Moscow is hardly the symbol of ‘Russianness’ but rather of a Babylonian mixing” that was inevitably the result of the messianic ideas which arose around that city rather than out of the minds of Great Russians as such.

            To overcome this bitter history, the Zalesya movement leader says, “the future Great Russia” must include “the oblasts of the present Central Federal District plus perhaps Nizhny Novgorod;” and these parts must both be organized as a federation and the capital must be shifted out of Moscow, a city that will be fated to be an economic but not political center.

            He further argues that the residents of that state won’t be Russians as constructed by Stalin but rather people who look back to a time before Moscow colonized them on a way to colonizing so many others. As a result, this new Great Russian state will not aspire to speak for or claim all others who speak Russian or share some other aspects in common.

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