Does Siberian separatism exist?
There is no Siberian separatism yet. And this is the main problem of Siberia. While speaking of Siberian separatism, people mostly mean the “special rights” of Siberia, unfortunately. There is no ethnic community, horizontal links between regions are weak, there’s lack of civil society institutions – all this could not make a good ground for regional separatism. The idea that Moscow is draining all the Siberian resources, leaving little of them locally is probably the only one point that unites the Siberians. After a brief upswing of regional activity in the 1990s, while the “Siberian Agreement” Association and the Ural Republic of Eduard Rossel were created, today’s regional elites are focused on the President’s administration, rather than on the interests of Siberians.
Siberia has never been an autonomous part of Russia. Even in the pre-industrial era, despite its huge size, it was ruled by the tsarist governors. At the same time, as an independent country, Siberia will have all the preconditions to be a truly democratic, pro-European and pro-USA state. Russia is doomed to compete with the West, to use the rusty Orthodox tenets that support almost a thousand-year label on tax and forceful power issued by the Golden Horde. In 1327 Ivan Kalita, the Prince of Moscow, received the right to collect tribute from all the Russian lands in favor of the Golden Horde for his help during the crackdown of Tver uprising. He obtained yarlyk, a corresponding document, from Khan Uzbek. In fact, Russia is still controlled by this yarlyk. Russia is compelled to oppose itself to Western civilization, modernity, a society based on respect for a human being, human rights and personal freedom. Siberia was not founded by slaves, people who moved there from the dictates of the tsar, Moscow, the communist regime or the Moscow bureaucracy – so it has the opportunity to become a real European state.
Large countries are behind the times of the modern world. The citizens of small, dynamic, high-quality ruled countries have more civil, political and economic freedoms, more opportunities for self-realization and development of business initiatives, and a higher quality of life, as a result. That’s enough to research migration routes to understand where the point of interest is for those looking for a better future. Great countries try to invent their own ways. China is trying to eliminate the huge structural distortions between the rich coast and the poor northwest of the country at an early rate, before the start of a real state federalization. The United States is more like a confederation than a federation already, and the federalization process continues. There is a referendum to be held in California soon, to discuss the state separation into 3 parts.
Unfortunately, Russia does not have its own rooted traditions in federalism. Except the 90s, the country was and still is a unitary state. This Moscow-managed state has centralized distribution of resources. This leads to the fact that the Siberian regions are often ruled by incompetent Moscow henchmen, who are obliged and accountable only to the central government. Even the regions with non-authoritarian government models where the local elites are strong, such as Novosibirsk region, are in fact “outmatched” by the federal government, and are placed under the control of proxies in the center. The mayor of a small Russian town becomes the governor of one of the key Siberian regions! Isn’t it a jest about the inhabitants of Novosibirsk region?
Siberia of the future is the land of free and powerful people. They rely not on power nor the state, but on their own strengths, their talents and dreams. This is a country without forcible oppression of one territory by another, where the people can build the model of public administration that corresponds to their geographical, cultural, national, climatic, and economic needs. In this country the government performs its functions without any attempt to make a breakthrough into a personal, family, social and economic space. The church is separated from the state and education. This is a country that respects its neighbors and doesn’t play any cheap geopolitical games. It is a European country that has made its choice for long-term cooperation and integration with Europe and North America.
The article was originally published on the Open Russia website. Photo credit: Open Russia