Saturday, May 11, 2024

Putin Declares Ethnic Russians ‘State-Forming People’ of His Country

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 8 – When Putin rammed through his constitutional changes in 2020, the Kremlin leader managed to offend both ethnic Russians angry that he failed to openly declare that their nation was “the state-forming people” of Russia but limited himself then to making reference to “the language of the state-forming people.”

            At the same time, he outraged many non-Russians at that time who viewed his half-way measure as a clear indication that they were about to be reduced at a constitutional level to second-class citizens in a country in which they have played significant roles but that Putin still felt somewhat constrained in that regard.

On that controversy, see, and

But Putin has now taken the step many Russian nationalists have hoped for and many non-Russians have feared and openly declared that the ethnic Russians are “the state-forming people” of his country by inserting that phrase in his order on state policy regarding historical education (

Specifically, the Kremlin leader said that state policy governing historical education must promote “the formation of an all-Russian civic identity and the strengthening of the community of the Russian world on the basis of traditional Russian spiritual, moral and cultural-historical values.”

And that goal is to be achieved by “preserving the memory of the significant events in the history of Russia, including the history of the state-forming Russian [russky] people, part o fhte multi-national union of equal peoples of the Russian Federation and the history of other peoples of Russia.”

Russian nationalists are already celebrating these words as an indication of where Putin wants to take the country in the coming years ( There is little doubt that non-Russians will respond with horror about the Russianization and Russification that such a formula presages.

And the deepening of the divide between them is likely to be more important for the future than the repressive nature of Putin’s decree that some liberal critics have already noted ( and

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