Russia is a multicultural country. Tatars, Bashkirs, Chechens, Komi, and countless other nations, whose lands were conquered at one point or another, are a part of so-called russian federation. Russians love to boast about their diverse and multi-ethnic society, even though for hundreds of years the russian state did everything it could to erase the identities of those nations and assimilate them under the umbrella of the “Great russian Culture”. Most of the ethnically non-russian citizens have forcibly forgotten their native languages and traditions, and identifying as a russian is encouraged and considered something to be proud of. The superiority of “True russians” is constantly underlined by russian propaganda.
But why are russians not the ones who we hear most about when it comes to the crimes and atrocities in Ukraine? We do not blame the russians for cruelty, but the Buryats or Kadyrovs. And this is very beneficial for russian propaganda. Why?
In typical russian fashion, this narrative focus is an effective solution to a couple of kremlin’s “problems”. The first one is that, even though russia is an outwardly militaristic county, military service in it has long been unpopular, frowned upon, and considered something to be avoided. Most soldiers of the russian Army come from economically depressed regions, where military service, even though it doesn’t really pay much, provides the only opportunity for something that approaches decent living. So, by making “lesser nation” the face of their war against Ukraine, russians are encouraging them to fill the ranks of their dwindling military, providing the cannon fodder they so desperately need.
The second “issue” stems from the russian national inferiority complex. Being taught all their lives that russians are a great nation, while not seeing any proof of that in their daily lives, russians compensate for that mental inadequacy through diminishment, subjugation, and mistreatment of ethnic minorities. This is the only way russians can fulfill the promise of superiority that was fed to them by the kremlin. Ethnic minorities in russia are despised and mistreated both on a personal and national level, and are de-facto second-class citizens. When there is no suitable outside enemy to blame for russian problems, they usually become the scapegoat. So, it is no wonder that the russian leadership considers the war with Ukraine as an opportunity to cull the ranks of the “undesirable”. Disproportionate casualty figures of ethnic minorities compared to ethnic russians are proof of that. This is the Nazi policy of the russian government towards its citizens.
The last “issue” is the blame game. The russian Army regularly commits war crimes in Ukraine, and no amount of propaganda can cover them up. The international community has seen russian atrocities in horrifying detail, and will not soon forget them. So, to shift the blame from the “cultured and refined” russians, the kremlin portrays the “uneducated, barbaric and disposable” Buryats and Chechens as the main driving force of the conflict, and, by proxy, the main perpetrators of war crimes.
Why did we so easily believe this narrative, which is totally beneficial for russian propaganda?
Unfortunately, Ukrainian society suffers from an unhealthy dose of latent xenophobia, especially towards “non-European” cultures. As a result, it is easier for a regular Ukrainian to believe that people who look different – Buryats, Kalmyks, Chechens, are more likely to commit atrocities. Ukrainians hate russians, but they hate Chechens and Buryats more. This is where our gaps in knowledge of other cultures played to the advantage of russian propaganda. Consequently, when a Ukrainian sees 10 russian soldiers commit a crime, and one of them does not look like a Slav, he will focus on him and remember him better than the others. This is scientifically proven fact.
We need to resist!
No matter what russian propaganda says, we need to remember that the ethnicity of the soldiers does not matter – they are all russian citizens. And it is the russians who are responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.
There are no battalions composed only of Buryats. This would openly threaten russia because an undesirable national spirit could rise. So like every other minority they are distributed among the entire military, and are commanded by ethnically russian officers.
It is important that not only the Buryats have a characteristic Asian look among the peoples inhabiting the so-called Russian Federation. However, this narrative did not touch any other nationalities. Weird, isn’t it? The word “Buryat” became a collective term for Mongoloids in the russian army. The true russians are the real Nazis because they hate and destroy not only the Ukrainian people, but also their citizens.
The criminals should not be treated as Chechens, Buryats or Kalmyks, they are all russians, and all of them must be punished.