Linguistic peculiarities don’t make Smolensk and Briansk Belarusan territories; neophytes are as dangerous as the concept of the “Russian World” is.
On November 11 “World Russian People's Council” adopted a declaration of Russian identity. The authors of the concept are hoping to unite the Russian-speaking population of the whole world in the face of the challenges Putin’s rule set before Russia.
The essence of the “Russian identity”, its goals and threats “EuroBelarus” Information Service discussed with Uladzimir Matskevich, the head of the Board of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus”.
- The World Russian People's Council adopted a declaration of Russian identity. What is that?
- When a country is in crisis, different forces are looking for means to raise the spirits, mobilize the population, to make people be motivated when withstanding political, economic, and other hardships. Often archaic and primitive methods are used for these purposes.
Declaration is an attempt to mobilize Russian population for humility with the situation Putin’s rule created.
- Russia is identifying Russians. What is the aim of this action? Is it to establish the boundaries of the Russian World that should be protected?
- Starting from the 80s different ethnical, national, almost racist theories regarding the purity of the Russian people were cultivated. For a long time the authorities didn’t give any reaction to all these trends, assuming that they bring no visible harm. However, cultivation of Russian, ethnical, and national has led to throwing all non-Russians overboard of “Russian unity”. That is why super-ethnical forms of unity have appeared.
As the time has shown, ethnical theories are not suitable for Russia; the notion “Russians” hasn’t yet become a uniting factor.
That is where the need to change the image of “Russians” appeared; and that is when the theory for ethnical non-Russians was born. This theory includes all Russian-speakers to the notion “a Russian”. However, emphasis on the Russian language is very dangerous and might bring conflicts and even open wars.
- How does identification of Russians fits in the current Kremlin’s policy? Brzezinski noted that Putin’s logic might bring him to protection of Russians in New York.
- The concept of the Russian World suggested by the Russian intellectuals didn’t presuppose that Russian-speaking population outside Russia would be protected. But there will always be politicians who will use good intentions for mean purposes.
It turned out that traditional concepts are unable to unite the “Russian World” so that it is able to compete with common European or Christian values. That is when the simplification of the concept happened: Russian language and protection of Russians outside Russia, which led to denial of such peoples ad Ukrainian and Belarusan and an attempt to think that all Eastern are Slavs Russians. This concept is very dangerous; however, politicians and intellectuals underestimate this danger.
Why it was the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill who started the identification of Russians?
- The participation of the Russian Orthodox Church is no coincidence: it has a number of ideas with the help of which it intends to keep the neighboring territories in the sphere of Russian influence. There is a concept of “canonical orthodoxy territory” in accordance to which Belarus is included in this territory. This theory believes that all other religions - Protestantism, Uniatism, and Catholicism – are borrowed and should be limited if not suppressed.
It means that territory starts defining a human’s conscience.
There are such concepts in Belarus as well, but we shouldn’t connect the territory of the state with the national identity. Thus, Belarusan language was used far beyond Belarus, which led to the wrong conclusion that these territories, including Briansk and Smolensk, belong to us. However, linguistic peculiarities of the regions don’t make their citizens Belarusans. These theories are as harmful as is the concept of the “Russian World”.
- But the same thing has been happening in Belarus during the last 20 years, hasn’t it? The only difference is that it is Lukashenka who picks out outsiders, “the fifth column”, “and electorate”. But if the “Russian World” is at least formally aimed at reaching unity among people, then Lukashenka’s actions lead to disunion of Belarusans.
- Russian chauvinism and imperial thinking are subject to certain fluctuations; however, they have long-lasting effect, whereas Lukashenka’s national concept is a short-term factor that is all about rushing. When Lukashenka was dreaming about the renovation of the USSR and about moving from Minsk to Moscow, he denied Belarusans’ national identity: he called Belarusan language “underdeveloped” and thought that Belarusans are Russians but with a “mark of quality”. Basically, he was trying to join the concept of the “Russian World”.
After his dreams to occupy the throne in Kremlin, Lukashenka became more tolerant to the national idea, and now we see his clear overtures with the national idea. Belarus regime is characterized by inconsistency and rushing.
Well, rushing is also typical for many Belarusans, and that created a whole new army of neophytes – people, who were initially indifferent to all Belarusan but who rushed to defend Belarusianism all of a sudden. Instead of developing healthy nationalism and be guided by classics, neophytes generate precocious ideas such as “Smolensk is ours”. However, in Belarus it can be accounted for the development problem.
On the whole, national question is too delicate a question that requires discipline and moral responsibility so that not to make mistakes and unreasoned decisions, as we can pay too much for such mistakes.