Saturday, November 11, 2017

Siberian Activists Now See Canada as Model for the Future of Their Region

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 11 – Since the beginning of the oblastniki movement in the middle of the nineteenth century, Siberian activists have frequently defined their land as “’Russian America’” because it began to be settled by Europeans at about the same time although it has not yet become independent.

            That analogy always disturbed tsarist and Soviet officials, Siberian activist Yaroslav Zolotaryev says, and calls in the last five years for the formation of “’a United States of Siberia’” have had the same impact on Moscow officials of the post-communist Russian Federation (

            On the one hand, it has raised the specter that an enormous portion of Russia was not only seeking independence but doing so in order to copy or even be absorbed by Moscow’s chief geopolitical enemy. And on the other, it has suggested that the Siberians even if they don’t become independent will promote a genuine federal system that would limit Moscow’s power.

            But now some Siberian regionalists have adopted another model for their future. The US given its enormous wealth and power seems unattainable, but there is a model that they can use that might prove more attractive because more accessible and that is for Siberia to become “a second Canada.”

            Achieving that, Zolotaryev concludes, would also be far from a bad outcome. 

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