By Paul Goble
On his personal telegram channel yesterday, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says that the United States is seeking to form “an anti-Russian international.” He uses the term for non-ethnic Russian (rossiyskiy), but as often happens that notion is likely to be invested with ethnic meaning and become anti-Russian (russkiy) in the ethnic sense.
Like the flamboyant head of the LDPR Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Kadyrov often says things that are leading indicators of where the Kremlin is heading. If that should be the case here, it would point to a major worsening of East-West ties (capost.media/news/politicheskiyblog/kadyrov-vashington-fakticheski-stremitsya-sozdat-antirossiyskiy-internatsional/
The risk that Russians in the Kremlin and elsewhere are likely to invest such a propaganda meme with ethnic meaning is all the more likely because of the criticism the US has levelled at Moscow for its ethnic and religious policies, criticism which many in Russia feel ignores the special nature of their state and is unacceptable outside interference.
And such feelings guarantee that the Russian government can be expected to denounce as an American project a draft resolution introduced yesterday in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine calling on Western institutions, including the EU and NATO to denounce Moscow for its treatment of the indigenous peoples of Russia (idelreal.org/a/29804201.html).
There is no question that such criticism is justified. What those who call for it must recognize is the way such criticism is made is critical because in the current environment, as Kadyrov’s words suggest, a reasonable criticism of one thing may lead to an explosive reaction delivered in quite another place.