Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Window on Eurasia: Russian Nationalist Backs Independence for Non-Russians Who Want It

Paul Goble

Vienna, January 26 – Russian nationalists who support an expansive imperial agenda have always attracted more attention, but there is within the Russian nationalist camp a group that favors the creation of a smaller but more homogeneously ethnic Russian state by allowing non-Russian areas now within the Russian Federation to go their own way.
Perhaps the leading spokesman for that position now is Konstantin Krylov, the leader of the Russian Social Movement, who has told the Daghestani newspaper “Novoye delo” that he sees “nothing horrible” or “dangerous” in an outcome where a “’Russia for the Russians’ would be reduced to the area of several oblasts of Central Russia” (
“For me,” Krylov says, “Russia is the country where Russians live. A Russia without Russians and not for Russians is simply not needed by us Russians. … The space where Russians can live freely and not be concerned about their future is constantly becoming smaller. In the Caucasus, for example, there are republics where the Russian population is practically gone.”
The “de-russification of the entire Caucasus” lies ahead, Krupnov says, “and the very same thing is taking place if perhaps not so markedly in other ethnocratic republics in which the rights of ‘the titular nations’ are guaranteed by the local and federal powers.”
At the same time, he argues, many “Russian lands from time immemorial” are being filled up with non-Russians from the Caucasus and Central Asia and “enjoying the protection of the Russian powers, are establishing their control over the Russian land. If things go any further, then the Russians will not have even those few oblasts about which we are talking.”
“And when this becomes a reality – and under the current tempo of the development of events, this can happen faster than we now imagine – the deparation of all non-Russian territories may turn out to be the last chance for the survival of the Russian people,” he continues, adding “amputation is better than gangrene.”
In Krupnov’s view, “if Tatarstan, Sakha or Daghestan will agree to remain inside Russia only under the condition of the putting down of the national aspirations of the Russian people, if they do not want to live in an ethnic Russian state … then their presence in Russia harms both Russia and themselves because it blocks their chances for development.”
Most of the non-Russian republics are living as parasites on the state budget, and that means that power in them if this continues “will belong not to the best people but to those who are able to extract more concessions and aid from the federal center. The energetic and ambitious will leave Russia … in order to study or to work … in Europe or America.”
Indeed, Krupnov argues, “in these very republics will be realized the worst of all possible scenarios: the dissolution of traditional society without the construction of a contemporary one Under the pressure of Russian habits and mass culture, the remains of traditional norms and values will be lost, and those from contemporary society will lead to nowhere.”
At the same time, however, Krupnov says that “the goal of the Russian nationalists” is not the creation of an ethnically homogenous state, something that would in any case require “ethnic purges,” but rather one in which the Russian people can enjoy is “lawful rights” and form “a Russian national state.”
Such a national state, he argues, “will not be afraid for its territorial integrity: a big territory is not for it a goal in and of itself and a source of pride.” Consequently, a Russian national state will be ready to allow those who want to leave to “do so peacefully, without blood, without serious conflict and even to preserve good relations for the future.”
Those non-Russians who choose to remain can rest assured that the Russian national state will treat them with care and “with an understanding of their problems beginning with economic and demographic ones and ending with cultural, linguistic, religious and so on.” This future Russia is likely to follow the example of the European Union in that regard.
“But these rights and guarantees are far from the main thing which the peoples of Russia will obtain,” Krupnov says. “The main thing they will achieve is freedom,” because “an anti-national state where the national majority is deprived of rights and is kept down is an unfree state,” something that concerns both the majority and the minorities as well.
“A national state is a free state,” Krupnov says. “In it exists real and not ‘sovereign’ democracy, an honest legal system and the rule of law because the elites do not need to suppress the majority of the people and fear it.” Instead, they can create the conditions for “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, assembly and unions, and also the basic rights of the individual.”
Obviously, a Russian national state will be respect other nations that want to have states similarly founded, Krupnov says, but he notes that this does not mean that the Russian national state he hopes to see emerge will ignore any mistreatment of ethnic Russians abroad, although he suggests such mistreatment will be minimized by the existence of a truly Russian state.
That is because the leaders of some neighboring countries have often acted toward ethnic Russians in the way that they have because “Russia [has been and is today] an anti-national state. [These countries] see how Russians are treated in Russia,” Krupnov suggests, “and they act in the same way.”
In other remarks, Krupnov said that he considers the Great Russians, the Little Russians and the Belarusians to be “three branches (or subethnoses) of a single Russian people,” but he adds that “it does not follow from this that they must be immediately combined. More than that, Krupnov says, there is no sense” of putting that goal before them “even as a project.”
And Krupnov observes by concluding that while there may be “forces” in the world interested in promoting inter-ethnic hostility in Russia, one should not lay “all problems” at the doorstep of “their wrecking activity.” The “Uzbek who raped and killed Anya Beshnova a Russian girl, was hardly inspired to do so by agents of foreign intelligence services.”

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