Dr. Namaz N. Muhammed
RECENTLY, President Vladimir Putin who had sent a message to congratulate Kiril who is the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church for his 70 th birthday, had said that ‘ The identity of Russia is the same as Orthodoxy’…
Those who have read this statement, will certainly not believe that Russia is a religious state… In that case, let us ask this question: What type of state is present day Russia? Russia is not your classic democracy. It also is not openly a dictatorship.
Russia is the inheritor of the former USSR who has come to an end in the 1990s.
Anyway, Putin continually makes the following statement: ‘The disintegration of the Soviet Union was a mistake. It should be rebuilt again.’
However it will not be a simple task to rebuild the USSR which was a totalitarian regime. If this was to be done: On what foundations should it be built on? In the time of the Soviet, one of the foundations for its establishment was the hostility against America. The Soviet regime was keeping its ideological base in existence by making people hate America and by spreading fear of the evil of America.
These days the anti American feelings in Russia are widespread. However this is not sufficient enough to build an empire like the USSR. Another factor to bear in mind is; there are recent statements about the political ‘flirt’ of the Russian leader Putin with the newly elected President of the USA, Donald Trump. The fact that Russia is heading towards a market economy even if it is partial, together with the release of news and American hegemony in globalization, will lead the people of this nation mentally to become more western whether the Russian administration wants that or not. Hence the cries of ‘end with America’ of the Russian nationalist politician Jirinovski is not heard beyond the meeting squares.
The Russian identity crisis is not only a problem of these days. This identity crisis was also discussed at the time of the tsar Russia. In the time of the Soviet, it was tried to stabilize this identity through the fake and artificial theories of Marx and Lenin.
There was no spectacular identity established from the 70 year long Russian experiment of ‘socialism and communism’ which was based on a dictatorship of workers and farmers and cost the lives of tens of millions of people.
Hence when we come to modern times, Russia is still looking for a personal identity. A nation and people who own one sixth of the world boundaries, can not find its own identity for hundreds of years.
This is really an important contradiction.
I guess the Russians do not compare themselves to a bear for no reason. Because as it is well known a bear will attack to finish of without much prior thought at all.
Exactly like how Russia has attacked those people, groups and nations which it sees as an enemy in the Caucasus, Ukraine and Syria… However when it comes to the reason of these attacks , nobody including the Russian leader himself, is able to give an explanation which is convincing to others. If this is not because of the open suffering of the identity crisis of this nation and people, than what is it?
When Vladimir Putin praised the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev he said the following: ‘Nazarbaev has achieved in a very short period of time, the resurrection of a people and nation’.
What about Putin himself? Yes, Putin had taken over Russia from a drunken Yeltsin, however was not able to completely sober his nation in terms of political, social and cultural arenas.
Why? Because Russia is primarily a nation where many ethnic groups live. This is identified officially in the identity of the state as a Federation. Hence as a result of this reality in Russia, while a national identity acceptable to everybody can not be achieved, on the contrary the existing ethnic identities seem to become more apparent. Hence the Orthodox identity mentioned by Putin or any other unity is not born out of this political Federation…
The cries of the nationalists in Russia which can be heard a little louder these days is also not an indication of a new identity being born in this nation. In actual fact, if the cries of the nationalists become more louder than expected, this will create an adverse effect on the ethnic minorities and Russia will be faced with a new disintegration.
If we were to summarize, the future of Russia will not be determined by the enthusiasm of a new empire or the strategy and establishment of a new USSR or even the abundance of Russian nationalism. In this regards, it is seen more appropriate for Russia to not just opt for a single Russian identity and a single Russian culture, but rather to aim at a real Federation which is comprised of many languages, people and cultures.
We should not forget that Russia is also an Islamic country at the same time. Even though Putin says that it is not possible for the identity of the Russians to fall apart from the Orthodox identity, the percentage of Muslims in the population of Russia is increasing together with the fact that the number of Russians who are converting to Islam is on the rapid increase in recent times.
This reality, demands from the nation for the arrangement of an interior politics which will cater for the social and cultural realities of ethnic groups whom speak many different languages and have many different religious faiths.
Today, Russia who is clashing with the West in may different areas, can not turn a blind eye to the religious and ethnic differences within. Otherwise it will fire a bullet at its own foot.
[Writer is Vice President of Turkistan]