Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ethnic Russians in Non-Russian Republics Increasingly Insisting They’re ‘Indigenous’ – and Non-Russians There are Resisting

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 20 – Another development which some non-Russians see as yet another threat to their status and that of their national autonomies within the Russian Federation is that ever more ethnic Russians living in these republics are demanding official recognition that they too are “indigenous.”

            Until a decade ago, Russian scholars and officials rarely talked about indigenous peoples except with regard to the numerically small peoples of the North and Far East; but now because of migration and the rise of decolonial movements, the issue of who is indigenous has spread (

            Taking as their model Russian law and practice with regard to the numerically small nations of the North and Far East which gives special privileges to their members and denies them to others even if the latter live among them, ever more non-Russians are insisting that they are indigenous and the Russian migrants who live among them are not.

            In the North and the Far East, those who claim indigeneity are often forced to provide proof in the courts; and it is not unthinkable that some non-Russians elsewhere might like to introduce similar procedures for those who have moved into their areas but who are now claiming to be indigenous.

            These claims and counter-claims are beginning to spark controversy in many parts of the country and are likely to increase in frequency and scale in the coming months and years, possibly becoming one of the main battle lines between non-Russians and ethnic Russians in the future (


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