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  • Writer's pictureDmytro Levus


November 16-23, 2022

Author — Dmytro Levus

1. National movements VS «good Russians»

The conflict between Russia's anti-Putin, conditionally liberally-oriented opposition and the leaders of the ethnic movements is growing. With this, nearly all leaders of so-called "good Russians" demonstrate an inability to perceive national movements as full-fledged allies and, even more so, as someone with the right to personal agenda, such as to form national states. Despite a relatively high number of platforms and dispersion in the West, the all-Russian opposition stubbornly pushes to monopolize its positions. In its narratives, the opposition tends to insist that Russia and the Russian people shouldn't be punished for the "crimes of the regime", even suggesting the West's strategic cooperation with Russians without any atonement.

Now, with the ethnic movements gaining a platform like the League of Free Nations, as well as with the presence in Europe of new ethnic political leaders who have participated in the ethnic struggle, their voice is becoming amplified. Ethnic movements hope to promote their agenda and gain acceptance outside the context of the general Russian opposition. Bashkir leader Ruslan Gabbasov (who participated in the struggle to protect Kushtau and currently lives in Lithuania) wrote about the event in Rome, "On November 17-19, the cultural forum The European Pavillion was held in Rome, within the framework of which there was a panel that discussed the colonial policy of Russia concerning indigenous peoples. Among the invited participants were one of the leaders of the Tatar national movement, co-founder of Free Idel-Ural Rafis Kashapov, one of the leaders of the Buryat national movement Rajana Dugar-De Ponte, and the head of the Bashkir National Political Center Ruslan Gabbasov. It is noteworthy that all three are recognized as members of the League of Free Nations. Video from the panel will be released later. I will add that the Europeans were horrified by the policy of imperial Russia concerning the colonized peoples. After the panel, people came up and expressed their support for us, saying that they did not know about the problems of colonized peoples; for many, it was a shocking discovery. This indicates that all European platforms have been filled with "good Russians" who only discuss all-Russian issues but do not express anything about the problems of other [indigenous] peoples of Russia."

On November 15, 2022, after a meeting in Brussels of several Russian oppositional leaders, Dmytro Gudkov wrote on Facebook, "The Secretariat of European Russians was launched today in Brussels. We met with the leadership of the European Parliament and its key deputies who work with Russians. Importantly, the meeting was not infighting but included a wide circle of forces, including Free Russia, the Anti-War Committee, the Boris Nemtsov Foundation, and the Russian Action Committee. We agreed on regular monthly meetings and discussions of key issues, from visas for Russians to a tribunal for Putin." At the same time, the League of Free Nations declared that the Secretariat doesn't represent all the peoples and territories under the control of Moscow. Hence, the League of Free Nations appealed to the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, requesting not to discuss the future of these peoples and territories without their respective representatives. (Source: )

Significantly, Russian opposition activist and writer Alisa Ganieva expressed a negative reaction to the words of Leonid Volkov, a Navalny supporter currently abroad, about the need for a Marshall Plan for Russia following the regime change. Formally, Alisa Ganieva does not represent any of the ethnic liberation movements; she is a representative of the Moscow human rights movement, actively expressing her position against the war and aiding the detainees. However, Ganieva is an Avar by nationality and bases her writings on Dagestan material. She is married to Ortem Yorgi, an Udmurt activist. Ganieva wrote, “Doctors at the Heart Institute of Kyiv successfully completed an operation on a child's heart despite the hospital experiencing a blackout. The surgeons continued their work using headlamps. Dozens of homes, hospitals, factories, and enterprises lose power daily. Even neighboring Moldova experienced power outages. Every day, civilians lose their lives from Russian missiles raining down on Ukraine. One of the victims, for instance, was only two days old; the newborn died when a shell hit the maternity hospital. Against the background of these grim news, a proposal from Leonid Volkov – about the necessity of the post-war Marshall Plan for Russia – sounded outlandish the other day. As an example, he mentioned that Germany was restored after 1945. Hence, according to him, it's necessary to restore Russia, which suffered under Putin’s regime. With all due respect, dear Leonid, I have one correction. By 1945, Germany had been bombed, devastated, and taken over by foreign governments. And Russia, which terrorizes and continues to bomb Ukraine, does not look remotely like that. In Moscow, people are getting ready to host New Year's celebrations, and the proceeds will go to new shells for mass murders and the destruction of infrastructure in a foreign country. The majority of people will go and buy at these [New Year's] fairs. They will continue to deny their responsibility. What, do you think Moscow also needs to be restored? Putin now, unfortunately, is Russia. Try separating the two.” (the comments section includes Volkov’s response):


The so-called special military operation. Mass dissatisfaction with military actions in Ukraine remains topical. According to the Idel-Realities estimates, which are based on Russia-admitted data, Russia’s losses in Ukraine amount to 1,885 troops.

At the same time, the protests of conscripts in national regions fail to become systemic – even when they bear ethnic character. It’s worth noting that ethnic protests of conscripts are more successful in achieving their goals. Overall, however, the Russian Federation has the situation under control.

Propaganda utilizes the created national battalions, forming their mythology and, given the difficult economic situation, recruiting additional people. Russia managed to mitigate the early fall crisis when a significant portion of recruits was dissatisfied with conditions and attempted to leave the front lines, still approving of the war. The following is an example of akin propaganda from a Telegram channel of the volunteer battalion named after Shaymuratov (Bashkortostan; this entire territorial entity forms three volunteer battalions): “Recruitment to the People's Battalion named after Salavat Yulaev continues. The salary is based on payments set out by the Russian Guard, plus additional payments from the Republic of Bashkortostan. (No less than 80K rubles per month for the period of combat coordination and no less than 200K rubles per month from the moment of participation in the special military operation). Recruitment conditions: age up to 50 years, a military ID, good physical condition, patriotic attitude, and a lack of criminal record (if there is a criminal record, you will undergo an additional interview and consultations with a lawyer). Journalists of the Bashinform agency have prepared good reference material on the support measures that Radiy Faritovich (head of Bashkortostan Khabirov, note: United Ukraine) introduced for families of participants in the special military operation. To know how it works, read... Battle sheet "SABLY SHAYMURATOV". During the special military operation, a volunteer from the Tatishlyna district, Fanis Husainov, serving in the Bars-17 detachment as a scout, hijacked an enemy armored personnel carrier and performed many feats on it." Source:


The war against Ukraine (which the terrorist state defines as a special military operation) has become a problem for Russian leaders in North Caucasus. Significant losses, duration of the war, and mobilization all result in mass dissatisfaction. In particular, it’s clear that loyalty to the federal government and to the Russian way of life in territories where local traditional institutions and ethnic solidarity are strong may not be sufficiently stable in a situation approaching a crisis.

This also applies to Chechnya, where, it would seem, there is no opposition to the rule of Ramzan Kadyrov, and all possible manifestations of dissatisfaction are suppressed. After the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution on the recognition of Ichkeria, occupied by the Russian Federation, North Caucasus has become more interested in Ukraine. The weight of the political opposition, forced to stay abroad, also increased. Similarly, the losses of the Chechen proxy army in Ukraine presented Kadyrov with considerable problems: from dissatisfaction with casualties in Chechnya to the need to preserve and increase the number of trained fighters for the time of possible turbulence in the Russian Federation.

Given the above, Kadyrov decided to form volunteer battalions consisting of the followers of Sufi organizations in Chechnya. In Chechnya, they are completely under the control of religious leaders from Kadyrov's vertical of power, and their members have no recollection of the wars with Russia. It’s worth noting that the use of akin units in the war against Ukraine is less likely than Kadyrov's formation of additional security units to maintain stability. Example: "Kadyrov called on Sufis to form named battalions in honor of their ustazas."

The late Geydar Dzhemal and other thinkers and researchers repeatedly warned and explained why the Russian authorities relied on "traditional Islam", and Chechnya became the region where they fought the Wahhabis/Salafis with the greatest ferocity, imposing tariqat and Sufi teachings. Those who have encountered the murids (Sufi followers) will understand what I am talking about, and for the rest, I will explain briefly. You will rarely find a community with such muted critical thinking as murids. They completely trust their spiritual mentors. The mentors, as a rule, are completely under the control of Kadyrov's people (meaning Sufi mentors in Chechnya). They contrast with the rest of the Chechens, who, for the most part, have not forgotten their history with Russia. This constitutes the successful phenomenon of the blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov and the "1Adat" project when it appeared that all Chechens were very loyal to the federal authorities and Kadyrov personally.

Unlike the rest of Kadyrov's subdivisions, these units must be the most loyal. However, let's see what will come of them since it’s unlikely that they will be sent to die in Ukraine.


The story of the shooting of a military commissar in the city of Ust-Ilimsk, which took place on September 26, 2022, received its continuation. He was shot by a local resident, Ruslan Zinin, who is currently under arrest. Zinin sent a letter to the editors of the opposition website People of Baikal through his mother. In the letter, he explained that the shooting was his way of protesting against the mobilization of his younger brother (also following the death of a friend). The story is significant because the commissar survived, but Zinin’s younger brother was not drafted. Hereafter, the protest can be considered successful.

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