Staunton, August 7 – Leaders of the ethnic Ukrainian community in the Russian Federation are calling on Vladimir Putin to end the Ukrainophobic campaign in the Moscow media because many Ukrainians now feel that they put themselves at risk of attack if they identify as such.
The open letter to the Kremlin leader was prepared by the Ukrainian National Cultural Autonomy of St. Petersburg on behalf of all ethnic Ukrainians in Russia, a group that numbers four million according to the 2010 census and more than twenty million by some estimates.
Even Ukrainians who admitted that they want to live in Russia say they are afraid. Many activists who had left Ukraine earlier are now going back, saying they will return to Russia only if Russia stops “cultivating hatred to Ukraine” and encouraging ethnic Russians to view Ukrainians as the enemy.
In reporting this trend, Novy Region’s Maksim Sobesky suggests that just as ethnic Russians in Russia are now feeling more Russian so too ethnic Ukrainians in Russia are feeling more Ukrainian. An outcome that ultimately works in Ukraine’s favor because it shows that Russians have ceased to be the “assimilating” ethnos they were earlier.
It is likely that this also means that in any future Russian census – if it is no more inaccurate than the two earlier ones conducted under Vladimir Putin – the number of residents of the Russian Federation declaring themselves to be Ukrainians will skyrocket to perhaps as many as twice the figure enumerated in 2010.
(On just how inaccurate and distorted Russian statistical measures have become under Putin and how Russian officials and scholars can no longer rely on them to make judgments about the current situation or predictions about the future, see the useful discussion of this problem here)
In that event, Ukrainians would become the second largest nationality in the Russian Federation and almost certainly would not be willing to be palmed off with the non-territorial “national-cultural autonomy-” organizations they are permitted at present. Instead, they would likely want their own republic, quite possibly in the Far East but also elsewhere.