Ukraine war exposes ethnic conflicts in Russia – 07/30/2022 – World

When it invaded Ukraine in February, Russia ended up opening up space for the vent of partly dormant domestic criticism. Since then, initiatives have been born by ethnic minorities who see war as another way to exploit their communities.

In common, the groups say that soldiers from poorer regions and minority nationalities are the most sent to the front and receive the least support in case of injury or death.

Russia is made up of 85 federative units, 22 of which are republics created as regions to represent areas of non-Russian nationalities. The country rarely discloses the number of casualties in the war, but a survey by the website Mediazona, banned by the Kremlin, together with the British network BBC estimates disproportionate figures of deaths of soldiers in these places.

By early July, at least 4,238 Russian soldiers had died. Of these, 225 are from the Republic of Dagestan (southwest), 185 from the Republic of Buryatia and 66 from the Republic of Tuva, both in the center-south. Together, the three republics account for 3% of the population, but 11.3% of deaths. Local anti-war organizations speak in even greater numbers.

They are groups like the Asians of Russia, created this year, which says it aims to spread the culture of minorities in the country and in the diaspora, but especially the fight against war. The initiative offers legal support to those persecuted for political reasons and to military personnel who are called up and who do not wish to go.

Or the Fundação Buriacia Livre, created by journalist Alexandra Garmajapova. The organization claims that most men in Buryatia’s countryside see military service as the only opportunity to earn money and buy a house in Ulan-Ude, its capital.

The perception is the same as that of analyst Pavel Luzin, a specialist in Russian Armed Forces. He told the British newspaper The Guardian that the lower ranks of the army are full of young people from these republics who enlist after compulsory service, especially for financial reasons. “It’s a golden ticket for many with no prospects in life.”

But there is another factor that spurred the creation of the group: the prejudice against which they are targets in other regions, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. “We believe that Russia, in declaring the denazification of Ukraine as a goal, absolutely contradicts itself, because it has a very high level of chauvinism, racism and Nazism,” Garmajapova told Republic magazine, also censored by the Kremlin.

This scenario is part of a system that perpetuates ethnic differences, says USP history professor Angelo Segrillo. In Russia, a person inherits the nationality of the father or mother, unlike what happens in Brazil and in other western countries, where the definition is linked to the place of birth.

“This creates great cultural wealth, but also the possibility of tensions, because everyone wants cultural or even political autonomy”, says the author of “The Russians”. Thus, a person born in the Republic of Tuva does not necessarily have Tuvan nationality — only if their father or mother has it.

This is the case of Defense Minister Serguei Choigu. He, who was born in Chadan, in Tuva, to a Tuvan father and a Russian mother, maintains a relationship with government officials in the republic, but has already claimed to have been raised under the faith of the Orthodox Church and not to be linked to Buddhism and shamanism, religions traditions of the region.

The latest public data, which are more than ten years old — and therefore outdated — show that more than 160 nationalities live together in the country. About 80% of the population would be Russian. There are also Tatars (3.9%), Ukrainians (2%) and Bashkirs (1.1%), for example.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington think tank that publishes daily reports on the conflict in Ukraine, said in a recent document that it had observed the prevalence of non-ethnic Russians in Russian battalions. “This raises the risk that Putin’s apparent desire for non-Russians to bear the brunt of the war will create domestic tension in these regions.”

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

Check Also

Can the extinct Tasmanian wolf come back to life? – 08/17/2022 – Science

The Tasmanian wolf (or tiger) could be reintroduced into the wild within a decade, nearly …