Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Discovery of the Russian People

By Valery Dzutsev

Many observers have pointed out the rise of xenophobia in Russia, especially toward the North Caucasians. But perhaps the pivotal recent change in Russian public opinion took place when Russians unearthed the Russian question. Namely: what is the position of the ethnic Russian people in the Russian Federation? This question is so important that hardly any viable political force can ignore it.

The pro-government forces, such as the so-called “Eurasianists,” advance the thesis of the Russian people as the state-building nation of the Russian Federation ( This approach, however, is weak on both accounts – legal and political. Proclaiming ethnic Russians as the primus inter pares among all ethnicities in the country should consequently result in some legal privileges for ethnic Russians. For political reasons this would hardly be acceptable even for Putin’s regime. Without such legal implications, the proclamation is empty and unlikely to satisfy anyone.

Instead, opposition-minded Russian nationalists advance the goal of the creation of ethnic Russian-majority republics that would that would exist on a constitutionally equal basis with the North Caucasus and other autonomous republics within the Russian Federation ( Evidently, the conflict in the North Caucasus and the Russians’ growing resentment of the North Caucasians moved some Russian nationalists to think about ethnic Russians’ own position in the contemporary Russian Federation (

Moreover, roughly 60 percent of Russians reportedly consider entirely separating the North Caucasus or some parts of it from the rest of Russia as an acceptable solution. However, no politician has appeared yet to articulate this view in a persuasive and appealing manner (

Thus, the issues of ethnic Russians’ political rights and the future of the North Caucasus are increasingly intertwined. They plausibly will be hotly debatable questions in the run up to the presidential elections in Russia in 2012 and beyond.

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