Friday, April 12, 2024

Among Russians, Both National and Regional Identities Highly Problematic, Sokolov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 10 – The identities of many non-Russian nations within the borders of the Russian Federation are well-developed, but the identities of those counted as Russians both as a whole and at the regional level are not, according to Denis Sokolov, who coordinates armed resistance for the Civic Council and is a member of the Free Ingria movement.

            In an interview with Vadim Shtepa for the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal, Sokolov, who was trained as an anthropologist, says that this lack casts a serious shadow on the possibilities for political action either by those who want to act as members of a Russian nation and those who aspire to regional identities (

            According to the activist, “Russians as a compact group identifying as Russian do not exist” because the Russian state “has taken this identity hostage,” leaving those among this group who oppose that state uncertain of who they are and often even incapable of explaining what it means to them to be a Russian.

            At the same time, Sokolov continues, “when we speak about regionalist identity, either this is a certain construct which looks primarily like something from folklore or it is a political project that has not yet achieved its goals.” Consequently, just like for Russians as a whole, those in the regions have not been able to consolidate as such and act as the non-Russians do.

            Indeed, he says, regional identities “unfortunately have not been formed as of now and in practice are absent.” Talk about them is either a question of talking about some past or an expression of hope that they can take shape in the future. And anyone discussing them as if they are in the same rank as the ethnic identities of non-Russians must disabuse himself of that idea.

            In conclusion, Sokolov says that “the West is afraid of the collapse of Russia” and believes that “somehow this can be avoided – although we don’t need to do anything for the collapse of Russia. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and his entourage are doing this more quickly and effectively than anyone else.”

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