In war’s wake, Russia’s ethnic minorities renew dreams of independence from Moscow

In war’s wake, Russia’s ethnic minorities renew dreams of independence from Moscow

Courtney Dobson writes:

“I burned my Russian passport — I was so angry,” Nikita Andreev said. It was Feb. 27, 2022, three days after Russia initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Andreev was attending an anti-war demonstration in the U.S., where he has been living since 2011.

The act, Andreev told New Lines, was spontaneous. Perhaps he was caught up in the moment as he stood near an open pit, surrounded by people singing Ukrainian folk songs and waving Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag. It was also bold: Andreev holds a work permit, but he is not a U.S. citizen.

That moment had a lasting effect on Andreev. It was then, he said, that his activism began.

Andreev, a 34-year-old with close-cropped hair and a mustache, co-founded the Free Yakutia Foundation, which campaigns against the war and helps potential conscripts to avoid mobilization. He has been a speaker at the Forum of Free Peoples of Post-Russia, a platform that brings together members of Russia’s myriad ethnic minority groups to discuss Russia’s future.

Andreev is not alone. He is one of thousands of members of ethnic minorities from Russia who are part of a movement calling for the decolonization of the country, with some going as far as calling for independence from Moscow. The invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 triggered a surge in national movements among Russia’s ethnic minorities, but their grievances with “Muscovy,” as many members of the movement refer to the central power in Russia, are decades, and some might say centuries, in the making. [Continue reading…]

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