Staunton, Jan. 23 – The events in Bashkortostan are extraordinarily important because they highlight the sad fact that just as was the case at the end of Soviet times, neither the incumbent regime nor its opposition has a plan to deal with the rise of non-Russian nationalism, Vladislav Inozemtsev says.
The regime believes that a new Russian nation already exists and can be maintained by terror given the relatively smaller size of the non-Russian fraction of the population than at the end of the 1980s, the Russian commentator says (moscowtimes.ru/2024/01/23/o-buduschem-federatsii-ili-rossiiskoi-oppozitsii-neobhodimo-obratit-vnimanie-na-natsionalizm-a119285).
And the Russian opposition “does not attach any importance” to non-Russian nationalism because it is “confidence that democratization, the rejection of state capitalism, and the respect for human rights” is more important not only to itself but to all citizens regardless of nationality in the Russian Federation.
As a result, what is happening is the more or less precise repetition of what occurred in the USSR at the end of the 1980s; and if neither the regime nor the opposition learns from that fact, “then the price of the post-Putin regimes, just like those which followed the Brezhnev era, will be the loss of the reformed country.”
The events in Bashkortostan are a wake-up call and must not be “underrated.” They reflect “the inattention of the central authorities to elements of national identity, their hostility to local languages and many other manifestations of imperialism which is so typical for the present-day Russian leadership.”
“Having destroyed over the last 30 years practically all elements of Russian federalism,” Inozemtsev continues, “the Kremlin does not have the slightest intention of reviving it,” even though relations between Moscow and today’s federal subjects “inevitably will become one of the main if not the most important in Russia after Putin.”
Sadly and in “an extremely dangerous” way, “today, the Russian opposition too does not have a unified opinion on this.” And therefore finds itself, just like the regime, reacting to events rather than leading them, and thus puts both in the position of their predecessors of 40 years ago and likely to lose.
Both must recognize that Russia today presents “a no less complicated system than the USSR did,” one that consists of a metropolitan center (most of European Russia), “regions of settler colonization (from the Middle Volga to the Far East), and territories united to the country by military force by the application of genocide (all the North Caucasus).”
Inozemtsev continues: “And if the Soviet Union in the name of the state did not have a national definition, then Russia today claims a national character while remaining a typical empire.” That means that “an upsurge of nationalism” will destabilize the situation by provoking a response of repressive nationalism from the regime.
In short, both will be reactive rather than pro-active and will only make matters for the territorial integrity of the country even worse. But more than that, Inozemtsev suggests, the collapse of the country will be followed by the restoration of Muscovite control over the regions and the imposition of a reconstituted imperial authoritarian system.
If there is little chance that the Putin regime will change its spots, the Russian opposition can and must, the Russian commentator says. It must not repeat the mistake of telling the regions and republics to take as much sovereignty as they can but rather offer them arrangements that will give them both more freedom and economic opportunity than they have ever had.
“The idea of allowing the regions to ‘take’ it in fact became the fatal mistake of the Soviet leadership,” Inozemtsev says. And the best way to avoid that is to move toward devolution of power and the institutionalization of genuine federalism rather than the fake federalism now on offer.