Sunday, June 2, 2024

Non-Russian Nations with Autonomous Republic More Likely than Those without to Develop Political Consciousness and Oppose Moscow’s War in Ukraine, Dolgan Writer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 30 – Kseniya Bolshevakova, a Dolgan writer now living in the US, says that non-Russian nations that still have a republic are more likely than those without it to develop a political consciousness and form within themselves groups that oppose Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

            The reason for that is simple, she says. Nations with such autonomies are larger and have more opportunities to interact and think about larger political issues beyond their immediate needs. Smaller ones, like her 8,000 Dolgans, who lack such advantages, seldom do (

            As a result, most Dolgans simply go along with the authorities and passively support actions like Putin’s war in Ukraine. Only a few like herself who have their native homelands become conscious of their nation as a collective thing and focus on issues that are likely to affect its ability to survive.

            Unfortunately, Bolshakova says, the lack of such consciousness and focus on larger threats puts these nations, including the Dolgans, historically reindeer herders in the far north, on the road to assimilation first with the loss of native language and traditional way of life and then to complete absorption to the ethnic Russian community in the north and more generally.

            To counter that trend, she has become an ethnic activist in the emigration and now has written a new book And the Permafrost Melts (in Russian and Dolgan); but because internet connectivity is so bad in her homeland, she has issued it not online as one might expect but in 300 printed copies she is sending to libraries and schools there.

            A few passages from her book, however, have now been posted online at But these are intended for other minorities and those who care about them than at the Dolgans.

            Nonetheless, these excerpts are important because they highlight the way in which Moscow has vastly expanded its assimilationist policies under Putin and why the Kremlin is so interested in gelding and then destroying the non-Russian republics where opposition to itself is far more likely to arise.

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