By Paul Goble
Igor Romanov, the editor of the Shores of Russia Internet portal, says that Alaska, “a Russian region in North America, could become a problem for the United States in the near future,” a conclusion he says is obvious to Russians who are “well acquainted with processes like ethnic and regional separatism.”
“Americans well know,” he continues, “that the mentality of residents of Alaska is different from the way of thinking and worldview of the average American. By its spirit, Alaska really is strongly drawn to Russia” given that “no fewer than 10 percent” of its population are Orthodox Christians” (beregrus.ru/?p=5984).
Of course, Romanov says, “one can hardly say that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population are taken into consideration to the necessary extent.” In fact, he writes, “the American government in essence ignores Russian culture and blocks its development,” seeking to reduce the Russian presence to a question for museums alone.
“In the schools of Russian America, Russian is not taught as an alternative second language.” As a result, Russians “on a land which was conquered by their ancestors are degenerating and forgetting their language and culture.”
And the editor adds that “this of course disturbs the entire Russian world.”
Alaska is only one of the places where the US faces ethnic and regional challenges, Romanov says, challenges that have arisen because of what he describes as the enormous gap between the “proclaimed principles of freedom and democracy” and the actual governance of peoples who dominated the landscape before Europeans arrived.
But Alaska is where these problems are coming to the fore first: “The support of the most distant state of the American government costs Americans dearly. Still more dearly will it cost them when it is discovered that the processes of ‘Russian separatism’ in Alaska have gone too far” presumably to stop.
Romanov and his website cast themselves not only as defenders of Russians everywhere but also of the idea that Russians are an integrated nation without regional differences. Anyone who questions that as does the present author is subject to attacks reminiscent of those meted out to “bourgeois falsifiers” in Soviet times. (See for example, beregrus.ru/?p=5943.)
But despite such articles and quite possibly unintentionally, the Shores of Russia portal provides important insights into what is going on in Russia beyond the Urals, a place that does not get sufficient attention from students of Russia and one whose people, despite what Romanov would have one believe, are fundamentally different from Russians elsewhere.