Friday, November 24, 2017

Since Anschluss, Crimeans Feel More Crimean But Not More Russian or Ukrainian, Poll Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 23 – The first European poll in Crimea since the Russian Anschluss finds that Crimea residents identify even more as Crimeans than they did earlier but do not feel themselves to be Russians or consider Russia as their home, an indication that Moscow’s assimilationist plans have failed at least so far.

            At the same time, the survey by the German Center for Eastern Europe and International Studies found, very few consider themselves Ukrainians or view Ukraine as their homeland either ( and

                Gwendolyn Zasse, the center’s director, said that after the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, only 12 percent of those surveyed said they had visited other regions of Ukraine over the last three years; and “more than 40 percent” indicated that at present, they do not have any contact with their relatives in other regions of Ukraine.

            But at the same time, she continued, Crimean residents over the same period did not begin going to the Russian Federation more often either.  Fewer than six percent called Russia their homeland, while less than one percent identified Ukraine as their native country. Instead, the survey found that being Crimean had become “ever more important” to residents.

            “Many said that this sense of belong to a Crimean community was just as strong as earlier, but for about 40 percent, it has acquired greater importance.” This suggests Moscow has been largely unsuccessful in promoting a Russian identity on the peninsula but also that Kyiv has devoted insufficient attention the region to counter Russian efforts.

                As an RFE/RL reporter said in reporting on this study, “the Kremlin completely controls only the territory [of Crimea]; it does not control the minds of Crimeans.” Those most inclined to support Moscow, he continues, are the elderly – and their identification with Moscow has more to do with a Soviet identity than a Russian one.

Moscow Allowed North Caucasian Radicals to Fight for ISIS So They Would Be Killed, Muradov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 23 – Independent Chechen journalist Musa Muradov adds another dimension to Moscow’s complicated relationship with those North Caucasians its security forces allowed to go to fight for ISIS in Syria. He suggests that the Russian government did so in order that as many would be killed as possible in ways allowing Moscow to avoid responsibility.

            He makes that point in the course of an interview posted on the OnKavkaz portal ( The Russian force structures helped North Caucasus radicals leave, did not promote anti-ISIS propaganda early on, and clearly hoped that those going would be killed.

            Such an arrangement would suit Moscow perfectly, Muradov argues, because it would see many of those who might otherwise fight against it in their homelands be killed in ways that Moscow could plausibly argue it had nothing to do with, thus reducing the chance that these deaths would lead to more anti-Russian feelings in the region. 

            (Muradov’s words do not mean that other reports which suggest that some of the ISIS fighters from the North Caucasus were Russian agents under various degrees of control and may, now that Moscow is helping to extract them, be used elsewhere. On that possibility, see

            Kavkaz-Uzel reports on another Syrian-North Caucasus development. Asker Bor, a Circassian activist, says Damascus is actively opposing the departure of Circassians from that country, an opposition that Moscow is fully respecting even as it is pulling some others from the North Caucasus out (

Moscow Seeks to Promote Friendship of the Peoples by Encouraging Pupils to Search for Extremists

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 23 – It is bad enough when the current Russian government restores some of the features of the Soviet regime, but it may be even worse when it revives something that was not part of the CPSU program but rather the subject of anecdotes that simultaneously made fun of that system and called it into question.

            In Soviet times, it was sometimes said that “friendship of the peoples,” a highly valued Moscow notion, existed when a Russian, a Ukrainian and an Uzbek got together and beat up a Jew, hardly the message that the communist regime actually wanted to promote at least most of the time.

            But now, the Yekaterinburg portal, Politsovet, reports the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs is calling on schools to help form “positive inter-ethnic relations” by organizing among pupils “hunts for extremists,” an idea that would seem internally inconsistent on its face (

                The Yekaterinburg site is not making this up, as one might be tempted to conclude, but rather quoting directly from an FADN document with the truly Soviet title, “Methodological Recommendations for Organs of State Power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation and organs of local self-administration for important questions of the realization of the government’s nationality policy, the formation in local communities of positive inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations and also the identification and prevention of inter-ethnic conflicts.”

            The portal doesn’t specify how extremists are going to be found in schools and camps or what will happen if members of one nationality or religious group decide that the only extremists about are those in another ethnic or religious community.