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  • Writer's pictureDmytro Levus

Division of Russia. Tendencies: December 1-7, 2022

1. National movements of the Russian Federation vs. “Good Russians”, as illustrated by international events involving the Russian opposition.

The differences in views on the Russian future after Vladimir Putin between the so-called Russian liberal opposition, which is currently fragmented, and the ethnic movements run deep. Although there are speculations about possible fragmentation or even the collapse of Russia in the liberal opposition camp, there is no actual discussion of this issue. For instance, during the 3rd Anti-War Conference "Forum of Free Russia", which took place from November 30 to December 1 in Vilnius (Lithuania), comments about the disintegration of Russia brought up by Russian participants, such as Leonid Nevzlin, didn't receive development and were muted. At the same time, the words of the Ukrainian MP Oleg Dunda about the need to think about the disintegration of Russia as one of the main scenarios caused outrage. Overall, the Russian-Ukrainian war in this environment is perceived as an opportunity to take advantage of Ukraine's victory for the fall of Putin's regime and the transit of power in the Russian Federation.


Instead, at its 4th meeting, the Forum of the Free Peoples of Russia, which will take place on December 8-11 in Helsingborg (Sweden), proposes to consider the Plan for the reconstruction of the post-Russian space states. That is, the Forum boldly launched the concept of "post-Russian space", which representatives of so-called "good Russian" movements in the Russian opposition abroad seek to avoid. One should note that the Forum of the Free Peoples of Russia also includes individuals from the Russian Federation who can hardly be serious supporters of Russian disintegration, but the discussion continues.



2. Idel-Ural State

As the so-called special military operation continues, the importance of maintaining control over the Idel-Ural regions to support the war against Ukraine becomes evident to the Russian authorities. For this purpose, the central government encourages local elites and, at the same time, enhances their association with the Kremlin through joint responsibility.

For example, one may see akin dynamics with the awarding of the Chairman of the World Congress of Kurultai Bashkirs Yuldash Yusupov by Deputy Secretary of the National Security Service of the Russian Federation, former president of Russia Dmitry Medvedev. He received the award for the organization of charitable assistance to the participants of the war against Ukraine. In particular, the delivery of humanitarian goods to Russian soldiers wounded in Ukraine in the hospital as part of the campaign called "Йөрәк йылыһы - Warm hearts". One should note that similar actions are viewed negatively in the Bashkir independence movement, "That's how a collaborator wastes the property of his people on the needs of his people's occupier, justifying the deaths of his people to receive a reward for loyal service to the occupier."


3. SIBERIA AND THE FAR EAST


A fairly important event in Yakutia is the trial of local activist Anatoly Nogovitsyn for protesting against the war in Ukraine. Although Nogovitsyn is, first of all, a politician (the head of the local branch of the Yabloko party) and an anti-war activist (his position is clear: "I ask you to ask yourself a question: are you ready to send your relatives and friends to this massacre, which only one person needs? A person who was offended by the Ukrainians because they did not want to become serfs like us"), the process expectedly acquired a bright regional and ethnic color with a flavor of anti-colonial discourse. The progress of the process and information from the anti-war activist himself allow us to draw conclusions both about the nature of the Russian Federation's relations with Sakha (Yakutia) and about the peculiarities of this region, precisely in the context of the Yakut mentality in the perception of war.


In particular, Nogovitsyn talks about the terrible consequences of mobilization for the northern regions of Yakutia, where a significant number of men were mobilized, especially in the regions with heavy dependence on physical labor. This, in turn, will lead to poverty. According to Nogovitsyn, there is a relationship between the number of mobilized and the level of legal literacy. At the same time, the authorities blackmailed people from remote settlements by saying that their failure to show up for mobilization would automatically result in a 15-year prison term. Moreover, Nogovitsyn says that the Russian authorities are carrying out the genocide of the small nations of Siberia and the Far East through mobilization. He expressed, "It turns out that small nations are being exterminated. Yes, maybe unintentionally, but they are. What the authorities are doing is genocide. I can't speak for the entire Far East, but I think it's because we don't have human rights organizations here that could provide explanations." Comparing the situation with Dagestan, where there were mass protests against mobilization, Nogovitsyn claims that there is a difference between Dagestan and the Republic of Sakha in terms of attitude to military service. In the Caucasus, contract military service was a matter of prestige, which is somewhat less characteristic of the Yakuts.



4. NORTH CAUCASUS AND CHECHNYA


The persecution of historians in Dagestan and other regions of the North Caucasus is a vivid illustration of the state of affairs in the humanitarian sphere of the North Caucasus and the dictates of the Russian security forces in the area. On November 30, security forces searched the place of the well-known historian Hajja-Murad Donogy (Avar by origin). The next day, he reported that his computer, phone, flash drives, books, and work papers were taken from him. Moreover, the search was conducted by law enforcement officers from another region. The actions ended with an interrogation in the department, where he was asked about his participation in international scientific conferences. Before that, on November 11, Russian security forces resorted to similar actions in the western part of the North Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria), where they searched the Institute of Humanitarian Studies of the Kabardino-Balkaria Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences of Alkhasov and Hakuasheva, doctors of philology, and candidates of historical sciences, Taziev and Aloyev.


A painful topic for the leadership of the Russian Federation is the problem of recognizing the genocide of the Adyghe-Kabardian-Circassian people, carried out by the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. As for Khadzhi Murad Donogo, his issues began in July 2022 with the denunciation of the Association of Veterans of Special Purpose Forces, which filed a complaint to the head of Dagestan, General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Serhii Melikov. They accused Donogy of nationalism and the glorification of Nazism. Among the charges, the accusation mentioned Donogo's trips to Ichkeria in the 1990s, which was not controlled by Moscow at the time. An akin accusation could be perceived as a desire to "undermine the foundations of the regime" if the Russian Federation acted logically, given that the opponents of Moscow at that time still serve in the security forces of the Russian Federation, and even more so, hold exceptional positions in the Russian apparatus. Russian appointee in the region, Ramzan Kadyrov, is also a hereditary descendant of the separatists, but he became the most loyal "foot soldier of Putin" and is even sometimes considered his successor.


Khadzhi Murad Donogo critically perceives the Russian version of the history of the Caucasus; hence, the true reason for the persecution is quite transparent. In the summer, he was fired from his job at the museum and deprived of the opportunity to teach. Close observers describe the situation as a "federal trend to persecute scientists." Since "the results of their studies do not fit into the "correct" description of local history and dynamics of social and cultural processes. In the case of Dagestan, this is especially evident, as the interest in the works of Donogo and other local historians has grown against the background of new attempts to falsify the history of the region (cases with the film "Amanat", requests to Christianize the past of Derbent, etc.). There is an opinion that such actions will lead to the radicalization of the population, especially the youth, who will be deprived of opportunities for public discussion and an alternative view of local history, as a result of which they will go to the Islamist underground.


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