Saturday, May 11, 2024

New Dawn Party Attracts Some Non-Russians but Sparks Skepticism among Others

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 8 – The founding congress of the Dawn Party, organized by Yekaterina Duntsova, who sought to run for Russian president  but was blocked by the Kremlin, attracted some non-Russians who expressed the hope that it could serve as a bridge between Russian liberals and non-Russian nationalists.

            But at the same time, it sparked skepticism among other non-Russians who fear that this latest political move will end by reaffirming their fears that “Russian liberalism ends” whenever the interests and needs of non-Russians are concerned (

            Duntsova told this congress which took place in Moscow last week that she wants to work with the republics and regions and plans to form branches of the party in 50 federal subjects, a commitment that attracted some non-Russians to her banner (

            But those who attended were skeptical and expressed concern that the party’s leaders were out of touch with most non-Russians and their concerns and, still worse, that Duntsova’s people weren’t really interested in listening to them. As a result, they said, they came to spread their ideas and found backers from other regions and republics but not in the party.

            One of their number, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Duntsova’s backers are primarily drawn from “the urban middle class, students, young specialists and representatives of small business,” the people who earlier backed Yabloko and Navalny and who follow Yekaterina Schulman and Maksim Kats.

            Kharun Sidorov, a Prague-based expert on the non-Russians, said he wasn’t surprised by this division. Again and again, he stressed, non-Russians have been shown by Russian liberals that the latter aren’t really ready to do much for them in return for their active support. As a result, non-Russians may cooperate but they can only achieve their own ends on their own.

            “Many representatives of national movements joined the Russian democratic opposition with pure intentions and the naïve conviction that the protection of the national rights of their peoples is an integral part of the general Russian democratic discourse.” But they have been disabused and see that Russian liberalism ends not just with Ukraine but with any ethnic issue.

            These movements thus have had to conclude that “Russian liberals do not reflect the interests of the indigenous peoples or regional communities and that they have the same unitarist, assimilationist agenda that has been mainstream within the entire Russian political community since the end of the 19th century.”

            Unless Russian liberals change, the best anyone can hope for as far as relations with the regions and republics are concerned is cooperation but not integration, Sidorov says.

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