Well, the Russians will have no other choice…
So dear readers, recently I have encountered reports that they have so called language patrols in Kazakhstan. That is when activists come to a shop and demand the shopkeeper serves them in the national language of the given ethnic bantoustan instead of Russian. Scenes like this were common in Ukraine but Kazakhstan was off the radar for a while.
The local elites however are no strangers to playing the anti-Russian card. The language patrols in Kazakhstan get a police cover and are clearly sponsored by the government. Attacks on national minorities are a common scene in weak postcolonial regimes, it is a way of asserting authority. Think Idi Amin in Uganda, and the Asians, or Adolf Hitler and the Jews. This is an old tactic…
Russophobia is a serious problem that concerns every post-Soviet nation and the former Comecon countries too. Here is an old video of Dmitry Medvedev, then Russian president, complaining that Lukashenko employed anti-Russian rhetoric in pre-election campaign. Russia needs to react severely to any such displays, her honour depends on it. As of writing, there is some indication that the organiser of the Kazakh language patrols has fled to Georgia, it seems the Kazakh authorities came to their senses. So what are the strategies available to Moscow?
1) Well, I will turn to an article by Mikhaïl Delyagin. One of the obvious things is to ban the people engaging in Russophobic campaigns from entering Russia. This is more effective than you might think. I have observed it first hand, activists from the 2014 Maidan in Kiev that have just yesterday shouted anti-Russian slogans, have become gastarbeiters in Russia a while later. Far from being true to their creed, Russophobes aren’t against making money in Russia. Russia is by far the most formidable economy in the post-Soviet space. Russia is a true superpower.
We may call this first method “Idrak” after Idrak Mirzalizade, a stand up comedian of Azerbaijani origin, who happens to be a Belorussian citizen. He was recently made persona non grata in RF for his Russophobic jokes. He lived in Russia because he was avoiding military service in Belarus and Azerbaijan. According to recent reports, Idrak left Russia for Turkey via Belarus.
2) However, the above strategy is something that is readily practiced. Think the many foreign journalists, who did not have their visas extended. I am not certain there needs to be another law on the books for that. Instead, I believe that instances of Russophobia need to be monitored more carefully and this should be established by law.
Delyagin also suggests that businesses employing known Russophobes ought to be expelled from Russian market. This is a good idea but this would require a careful surveillance of the phenomenon of Russophobia on many levels. Something like a Russian version of ADL with an even broader reach.
3) A little diplomatic effort can make wonders. The Russian state still has a lot of influence they may exercise. Some efforts on the level of intergovernmental communication can make wonders.
4) Divesting from notoriously Russophobic regimes in Eastern Europe by building bypassing infrastructure. In this department Russia has made tremendous strides. Russia built a port in Ust’ Luga on the Baltics bypassing the need to use Latvian ports, and Russia also built two lines of the Nord Stream to bypass Ukraine and Poland in its transit of gas. This is having a profoundly beneficial effect on the budgets and infrastructure of these countries, just as what they deserve.
I am not an insider, just a casual observer, so I hope the Russian government takes this seriously.