The Russian Minority in Post-Communist Politics: a Case Study of Ukraine, Moldova and Chechnya
From the moment the republics of the Soviet Union proclaimed their independence in 1991, the face of the Soviet ethno-cultural demographic changed significantly. Soviet dissolution was the primary expedient for the creation of the Russian diaspora, as twenty-five million Russians found themselves located in freshly created states that were re-designed as their new political homelands. In due course, displaced Russians were forced to either return to the newly created Russian Federation, or assume a fresh political identity that ultimately distinguished them as the new Russian diaspora of the former Soviet Socialist Republics.
The most acute problem that arose from Soviet dissolution was to determine the nature of the relationship that ethnic Russians would share with their new ethno-cultural counterparts in the former republics as well as with the new Russian nation and the post-Communist Russian state. This article examines the minority factor resulting from Soviet dissolution by focusing on the identity ‘transformation’ of millions of ethnic Russians and the historical context behind Russian self-expression, the framework for conceptualizing diasporas and ethnic minorities, the inter-ethnic relationship between Russians and indigenes of Ukraine, Russians and Russia, and how Russians are viewed and view themselves.
Additionally, this article examines how socio-political orientations of displaced Russian minorities and secessionism has been presented as issues of regional security by addressing Ukraine, Moldova and Chechnya as examples. Ukraine serves as a case in point of a former Soviet Socialist Republic that has become fully independent of Russian authority that still shares many political disputes with its neighbour, while both Moldova and Chechnya are used as examples of territorial entities that currently seek independence – Chechnya from Russia and the enclave of Trans-Dniestria from Moldova.
The term ‘post-Soviet space’ refers to how the collapse of the Soviet Empire has seen a strong assertion of national identity together with an affirmation of national boundaries. Since the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union, the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and the Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), still have a colonial relationship with Russia. Commonly known as the Post-Soviet States, these states are also regularly termed the former Soviet Republics, and were referred to as the New Independent States (NIS) in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s 1991 breakup.