Russia Needs Not Gray Unity but a Bright Alliance of Diverse but Equal People, Kurbangaleyeva Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 4, 2018)

The Day of Popular Unity, Ekaterina Kurbangaleyeva says, should be recast, no longer as a celebration of gray uniformity of people but as a bright alliance of diverse by equal people in various regions and republics. Indeed, it may be best not to celebrate it as an all-Russian event at all.

Instead, it should grow from the bottom up, from regions like Novgorod and Ivanovo with their ancient traditions, the rights activist and member of the Russian Social Chamber tells Federal Press journalist Vladimir Parfirov, because that will promote social empathy and a sense of collective responsibility (

The current arrangements have no such consequences. Indeed, Kurbangaleyeva continues, for most Russians, this day is simply the occasion for another time off work. Such days must become important so as to consolidate Russians in a good way, capable of criticizing their own country but standing up to all others, just as Pushkin observed.

That means, of course, that Russians must feel more about their country than just that it is a besieged fortress as some like to present its current situation. Russians need unity but they need real unity not an ideological cover for radically increasing income differentiation and increasing problems among various nationalities.

Kurbangaleyeva says that an important place to work from is the improvement of conditions for invalids and people with various handicaps. That will take a long time, but it is a task that almost all can agree is important given the problems such people have traditionally faced in Russia.

The current holiday, she says, has not yet fulfilled its potential, she continues. It should not be kept at the level of “hurrah patriotism” and public marches. Such “ideological populism” and playing at “national pride” only harms the situation as it is today, the activist says.

She says that she doesn’t much like the word “unity” because it suggests “a static, bricked up monolith. The strength of Russia is in the multiplicity of the peoples living on its territory. All are unique and have a feeling of their own dignity.” What they need is not “unity” but “an alliance of varied but equal people,” a process that will continue forever.

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