The Chief Elder of the Erzya people Syres Bolyaen considers the West should not rely on the Russian “democrats” but on disintegration of the RF and creation of independent states by the indigenous peoples. 

The Chief Elder of the Erzya people Syres Bolyaen considers the West should not rely on the Russian “democrats” but on disintegration of the RF and creation of independent states by the indigenous peoples. 

The Erzyan writer and public figure Syres Bolyaen is one of those who have taken up arms to defend Ukraine against the Russian aggression and now his example proves far from all the representatives of the indigenous non-Russian peoples of the RF support the “Russian world”. In an interview to the “Polish Radio”, Syres Bolyaen talked about the situation in which non-Russian peoples of the RF find themselves, being actually the Kremlin’s hostages.

Syres Bolyaen was born in Saransk, the capital of Mordovia, which is a republic within the Russian Federation, where indigenous peoples of this part of Eurasia, the Erzyans and Mokshas, live. The territory on which these people used to live was larger and reached Moscow. For this reason, Ukrainian patriots disparagingly call Russians Mokshas. In fact, the Moksha people like Ukrainians also suffered from russification. 

However, the fact remains that in the war unleashed by the “Russian world”, i.e. Putin and his associates, representatives of non-Russian peoples in the RF become the fodder. Besides Kadyrov’s Chechens, these are Buryats, Tatars, Bashkirs, residents of Daghestan and many others. And the trend continues. Chechens and Buryats got notorious for the massacres in a variety of Ukraine’s regions, including the sadly known Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv. 

It hurts Syres Bolyaen when he speaks about non-Russian peoples taking part in the fighting for Russian Nazism’s interests. Syres Bolyaen is Inyazor (the Chief Elder) of the Erzyan people, the Head of the Erzya Community of Ukraine Èrzäń val (“Erzyan Word”), as well as the co-founder of the Free Idel-Ural Public Movement, which aims to gain independence of the Russian national republics of the Volga River area and the Urals – Mordovia, Chuvashia, Mari El, Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Bashkirtostan – and unite them in an economic and military alliance. On March 4, Syres Bolyaen called the Erzyan people on getting ready for the Russian Federation collapse and declaration of newly-formed countries, in particular Erzyan Mastor (“The Country of the Erzyans”). 

How can you explain the fact that Tuvan Shoigu, Chechen Kadyrov and other non-Russian politicians of the RF actively take part in the Russian world’s war against Ukraine?

There may be different motives. It cannot be stated that some unique formula applies to all representatives of the RF indigenous peoples.

Some are offered careers and greater opportunities to fulfill their ambitions – opportunities that they do not have in their smaller homeland that has been turned into a hopeless, rotten, backward, depressed hole. The authorities offer an opportunity and people fall for that.

Others, like Kadyrov, sell peace, stability and loyalty of the region to the federal center in exchange for the status of the Padishah, who does whatever he wants on his territory. His republic lives by any laws and concepts, but not by the Constitution… And there is only one requirement for him: the region will not rebel and be loyal to the federal center. The result is a mancourt contract with the federal center. 

For yet others, it is an opportunity to abandon their national self and become more Russian than the Russians themselves.

It is also an opportunity to implement financial projects. For example, for Tatars who are appointed to the government, where they deal with federal construction issues, but remain Tatars after all.

That is, the Empire has learned to apply various mechanisms to involving enslaved peoples in the life of the imperial organism and keeping them in submission. Today’s war demonstrates another mechanism – involvement in mutual responsibility or esprit de corps.

When discussing the national composition of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, we cannot operate with numbers. Statistics is The RF’s state secret. Today no one has a complete picture of the real national composition of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation as well as  their confessional composition. No one can say how many people practice Orthodoxy, Islam or Buddhism, because these are elements of state secrecy. In Russia, any statistics is concealed when it comes to demography, economy and migration. This is a Russian state secret, so we can’t discuss it.

Being killed for the Russian world, do non-Russian soldiers understand what they are dying for?

The Russian national policy is aimed at ethnocide, assimilation, and russification of indigenous peoples and turning them into cattle, to the extent that they seek pleasure in fulfilling their primal needs. Then people are ready to be hired anywhere and do anything.

As a result, Russian soldiers often look like ordinary mercenaries, but they try to abstract themselves from the war. That is, the service is one thing and victims are the other. In other words, they distinguish between shelling and dead children, orders and the result of orders.

They see the invasion of Ukraine as a trade for which they get money. For a person to have such an attitude toward his service, he needs to be “bastardized” as much as possible. One needs to be debased to the extent when his system of values involves only eating, drinking, sleeping, and having sex.

Unfortunately, this applies today not only to ethnic Russians, but also to indigenous peoples, Finno-Ugric, Turks, and Muslims. As a result of this “brutalization”, they no longer think about their nation, religion, or freedoms..   They have no idea  of these categories at all.

Why isn’t there a movement in the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation to refuse to participate in the Russian war against Ukraine?

Unfortunately, in both Ukraine and the West, there is a rather formulaic perception of Russia. Russia, even under conditions of authoritarianism and aggressive assimilation, remains quite heterogeneous, divided into territories with different laws.

If we take, for example, Chechnya and Udmurtia, the only thing they have in common is that they are part of the Russian Federation. It’s hard enough to find something else unifying.

That’s why you can’t generalize and say “why everyone doesn’t protest” or “everyone doesn’t protest because”.

First, some people protest. There were rallies in Karachay-Cherkessia organized by women who were outraged that the command did not give information about their husbands and children (fighting in Ukraine – Ed.).

Second, the situation in the North Caucasia itself is very different from that in the Republic of Mordovia or Nizhny Novgorod oblast.

There is a 130,000-strong group of Russian troops concentrated on the territory of tiny Chechnya today! And this is no accident.

Therefore, we cannot say that the situation is the same everywhere. It’s not right. Using the examples of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, we can say: yes, indeed, these peoples are now subjugated, their protest is drenched in blood, but, nevertheless, these three republics are held by Moscow with a huge number of troops, which at the same time cannot be thrown into the war with Ukraine. And the Moscow authorities understand that if these troops are withdrawn from the North Caucasia, no one knows what can happen there.

Do you know of any cases of refusal to fight against Ukraine in non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation?

There are cases of refusal to fight and they are recorded. We know about such cases among Ossetians: from North Ossetia, Ossetians from South Ossetia – the Russian puppet, pseudo-republic occupied by Russia.. The units of Ossetians refused to fight.

The soldiers refused to participate in combat operations because they felt the brutal attitude of Russian commanders treating them as if they were second-rate, disposable soldiers. They were used to fill the holes at the front, throwing them to the slaughter. The media wrote about that. Yes, those cases could not change the situation at the front, but there are instances of denials and public rethinking of indigenous peoples’ participation in the war. People see what role Moscow is assigning to the indigenous peoples in this war.

Can a  movement for independence rise up in any national regions of the RF currently?

I would ask this question in other words, “Can the national republics again fight for their independence?” There are such cases in the newest history of Russia. One of them is the armed struggle of the Chechen people for independence of the Ichkeria Republic. Also, there was “a parade of sovereignties” and national movements of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Mari El,  Udmurtia, Mordovia, Yakutia, which demanded either their independence or significant distancing from Moscow. The republics aimed at equal relations with the federal centre, did not want to be the empire subjects with colony rights. History has already known such stories. But I would like to ask the Western society, Europeans, Americans, Ukrainians, … Are they ready to support the scenario when the peoples of the RF will again declare their will of independent states? Won’t they be frightened to openly support not so-called Russian democrats or so-called Russian intelligentsia? Won’t we deceive ourselves once again? They say that the Russian Empire, Russian crimes, Russian atrocities are one thing, while Russian culture, Russian intelligentsia, Russian literature, theatre and music are quite the other thing, existing on their own. They are no way overlapping the Russian horrors, which we have been witnessing in Ukraine. Is self-deception likely to happen again? Won’t we rely on so-called Russian democrats and so-called Russian intellectuals instead of helping the forces craving for the RF disintegration and creation of their own independent states. It is a key question and the answer is to be found immediately. 

Volunteers from all over the world keep on coming to Ukraine to take part in the armed resistance against the Russian occupiers. Syres Boliaen says that among the volunteers there are Erzian people.

Unfortunately, there are currently few Erzian volunteers who are fighting on Ukraine’s side. So far, we have no opportunity to form a separate company or at least a separate Erzian Volunteer platoon.

Those are the Erzian people who lived in Ukraine or beyond Russia and arrived in Ukraine when the Russian invasion started.

In spite of a small number of them, it is of great importance for the Erzian Nationanal Movement. Being of Erzia national identity, it is difficult to overestimate the significance of these people for creating the future Erzian Mastor (the Erzian state).

It goes without saying, we cannot name the regions and cities these people have come from. What really matters is that they are here, in Ukraine, they are on our side, they are fighting against Russia and they do understand it is not Moscow but the Russian Federation that  threatens the Erzian people. What else is important is that they are gaining valuable combat experience, here and now, in Ukraine.


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