The federalism train has left the station, next stop — independence?

At the end of this week in the United States another Forum of Free Peoples Post-Russia took place, during which an open discussion between the supporters of the disintegration of Russia and its preservation took place.

First of all, many may ask, why in the USA and not in Russia? And the answer to that is obvious — because in Russia it is impossible to discuss such issues, and those who openly call for the secession of its parts and the creation of independent states on them are now officially threatened with 15-20-25 years of strict regime colony, or even life imprisonment (as today the law on life imprisonment for «treason» came into force).

That is why the supporters of such views who left Russia must gather in Europe and now in the USA. Where, by the way, it is possible to hold referendums on Scotland’s withdrawal from the United Kingdom or to advocate the creation of an Afro-American state in some US states.

But what made this forum particularly interesting was the open discussion that took place within it between supporters of movements calling for the separation of their countries from Russia and opposition figures who want to reform and preserve it.

For those who do not want to or cannot watch the whole discussion, we recommend at least watching the short but lively speech of Magomed Toriyev, representative of the Committee of Independence of Ingushetia, where he presented his arguments why the peoples of the Caucasus (and not only them) do not want to stay in Russia anymore

For those who have the opportunity, we urge you to watch the entire discussion, which began and was partly conducted in English (for the understanding of the Western audience), but was mostly conducted in Russian

The supporters of Russia’s preservation tried to campaign for it by threatening with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, ethnic conflicts, the strengthening of China, the disintegration of economic ties, etc. But, in our opinion, all their arguments were refuted not only by Magomed Toriyev, but also by two politicians from St. Petersburg, who advocate the independence of the city together with the Leningrad region.

Interestingly, the only prominent Russian opposition figure who agreed to such a discussion was Ilya Ponomarev, while people from Navalny’s and Khodorkovsky’s teams refuse to even discuss the issue. And this partly explains why, in recent years, even many of the national movements that used to advocate the defense or expansion of federalism in Russia have stopped doing so and taken positions in favor of independence.

We understand the current government, but have we seen any interest in discussing common struggle and future relations with Muslims among the leading Russian opposition figures in all these previous years? In the USA, even the Islamophobe Trump gathered some of his own supporters, who were presented as Muslims, during his pre-election campaign and met with them. Similarly, the leaders of the main British parties regularly meet with Muslims. This is despite the fact that their task is simply to win the next election, not to preserve the future of their state and its peoples.

Has anyone seen anything like this from the leading Russian opposition figures? Perhaps Khodorkovsky or Navalny or some of his people have organized meetings with representatives of human rights activists, political figures, journalists from the Caucasus and Volga regions, Muslim communities, and simply tried to hear them out and discuss common ground? No, we haven’t seen or heard anything like that, but we have heard Khodorkovsky call for drawing cartoons of the Prophet (PBUH) and promise to fight for the Caucasus if necessary, we have heard Navalny insult hijabs and attack «chuchmeks,» we have heard Kasparov say «a tablecloth for a street,» and so on.

For many years, the Voice of Islam tried to build bridges between opposition Muslims and the Russian opposition, but the leaders of the latter turned up their noses at such contacts, considering them discrediting. Now the Union proposes Ilya Ponomarev, and in principle one could believe in his good will towards the peoples and confessions of Russia. Unlike Navalny or Khodorkovsky, he tried to build bridges with Muslims when he was involved in political activities in Russia, in particular, he cooperated with Geydar Jemal and interacted with the Islamic Civil Charter.

But the problem is that Muslims or other national movements no longer trust any Russian forces in principle. Not because they don’t trust Ponomarev — maybe Ponomarev personally would like to and could give us something, but the problem is that tomorrow he may not be there, or he will be removed, and someone else will come in his place and take back what we have left.

This is why there is no trust in the Russian opposition anymore (honestly, there never was), and this is the fault of its leaders and talking heads, who all these years, if not poisoning Muslims, at least trying to shift the blame to them, portraying them as savages, Islamic extremists, and so on. Moreover, they have not changed their behavior even now, limiting themselves at most to general discussions about the readiness for dialogue with the regions.

Magomed Toriyev gave an exhaustive answer to this question when he was asked what projects the supporters of independent Ingushetia were ready to discuss, to which he replied that their main project now was to create their own army capable of liberating their country not only from the current Russian authorities, but also from Navalny and Khodorkovsky if they tried to subjugate it.

This is today’s political agenda. The federalism train has already left the station, and the next stop is the struggle for independent statehood.

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