Anthropologist Offers Seven Practical Steps for Russians who Want to Cease Being Imperialists

Russian Coat of Arms, adapted from image at

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Aug. 8, 2023)

Vasilina Orlova, a Russian anthropologist who spent four years doing field work among the peoples the Russian state at various times dispatched to the Far East to hold that country’s imperial possessions there. Now, she has offered seven practical steps for Russians who want to cease being imperialists.

“Of course,” she says, “the chief victims of imperialism are the countries which an empire seeks to suppress or seize; but imperialism brings grief as well to the empire itself and its ‘titular nation.’” Hence many like the Russians who find themselves to be imperialists need help to overcome that state (

Russians who want to cease being imperialists need to begin by taking seven rather simple steps:

1. Cease speaking Russian abroad and assuming that everyone will understand you.

2. Forget the expression “fraternal peoples;” it is insulting.

3. Forget about the expansion of Russia or even making jokes about that.

4. Give up colonial toponyms and terms.

5. Stop talking about the victims of “Russophobia.”

6. Stop evaluating everyone in terms of how people live in Moscow.

7. And be accurate if you intend to give up your Russian national identity for any other.

According to Orlova, “Russian colonialism is not something special in its methods or desire to ‘bring enlightenment’ and impose ‘a great and mighty language’ on others. The only difference between Russian colonialism and French or British variants is that it still manifests itself in its classical form.”

That involves “lawlessness, violations of the rights of people and forcing self-determination on others to serve one’s own interests. Looking at what Russia is doing now, “we clearly see what European colonialism was like for people in the 17th through the 20th centuries, before the neo-colonial era.”

Orlova adds “the country which today leads the world in de-colonial criticism of Russia and not because of any desire on its part but because it has been forced to do so is Ukraine. In the course of one day, it became clear to Ukrainians what is still a mystery for many Russians: the Soviet Union was a colonial project and that Russian colonialism and imperialism really exist.”

[article also appeared at]