The Russian Nation

“What we absolutely can and must implement — we need to be thinking about this directly and begin working on this in practical terms — is a law on the Russian nation,” Putin announced on Monday at a meeting of Russia’s Council for Interethnic Relations.

Alexei Roschin writes:

“The new idea of the Russian authorities shows that the authorities are suffering from the same illness as the opposition – from the total lack of constructive ideas.”

This is not surprising, he writes, “after all, the opposition in Russia is really the flip side of power, “her flesh and blood.” And that is why they have the same problems.”

But why does there need to be a special law about the “Russian nation”? he asks.

“…it is necessary, they say, to somehow train Russian citizens to the simple idea that in the modern state “nationality” is not determined by skull size, blood [type], and eye shape, but simply on citizenship, that is, for example, “a Frenchman” is just “a citizen of France”, and “an American” is a US citizen, and nothing more.”

But, he continues, the problem is that Russians have no concept of “citizenship”. “There are “subjects”, literally “paying tribute”…”. And they see the “designation as “Russians” as a negative one”.

Instead this will be seen as an effort to take away “…the awareness of belonging to some kind of “people”, that is, to at least some community within a society built on the absence of grassroots communities…”

The Act of “the Russian nation” will be adopted, Roschin says, and “will equally enrage everyone… both Russians and other representatives of the peoples of our “multi-ethnic country”.

“Small nations will decide that they are going to be deprived of their final identity and dissolve without a trace in the “new community – the Russian people”, as in the Soviet Union (then there were the “Soviets”). But the Russian… will decide the same thing – it has long been noted that our “profruskyi” [A “professional Russian”, according to Roschin, is somebody who treats being Russian as giving them special authority to discuss “life and all the phenomena of life”] tend to behave exactly as members of a small nationality, which are all “downtrodden”.

So, Roschin says, they will force this fake equation of nationality and citizenship on the population, “like the law on potatoes under Catherine”.*

But, he concludes, “it is clear that nothing will come of it. At one time V.I. Lenin, who despised all nations equally, said sensibly, “the best way to solve the national question is generally not to make it.”


*”In the Russian Empire, Catherine the Great ordered her subjects to begin cultivating the tuber, but many ignored this order. They were supported in this dissension by the Orthodox Church, which argued that potatoes were suspect because they were not mentioned in the Bible. Potatoes were not widely cultivated in Russia until 1850, when Czar Nicholas I began to enforce Catherine’s order.” []


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