On one of the Radio Liberty’s sites, the Buriat publicist Radzhana Duhar-De Ponte has published an extensive article running about the fate of her people and their responsibility for the war against Ukraine. She does not absolve the Buriarts of the responsibilty, she suggest sharing it with the ethnic Russians equally though. The publicist reminds of the mere statistics: there are 462, 000 Buriats in the Russian Federation whereas the number of ethnic Russians is 111 million. It is far from being equal. Why did the Buriats then become the face of the war?
Here is a detailed answer to the question given by the Ukrainian publicist Vitalii Portnikov and published on the Zbruč portal.
The Buriats have became the face of the war because it is convenient, first of all, to Russia itself.
It is necessary for them to emphasize on the multinational character both the war and the Russian army. Moreover, this army does not win, instead they commit numerous war crimes. It is essential that these crimes be associated with the warrior of the Mongoloid appearance. rthe warrior smiling like Iurii Haharin is known only to win, save and treat kids to sweets. Raping, robbering and murdering mean being a Buriat. And the monument in honor of the warrior-liberator is to possess pronounced Slavic traits. Have you ever seen the “warrior-liberator” of Buriat, Jewish or at least Ukrainian features? Neither have I.
Now let us recall how many Ukrainians died on the fronts during World War II, became heroes and order bearers. But no way: the liberating warrior is always Russian. Aliosha. “In Bolgaria is the Russian soldier”. Russian, not Buriat.
At the same time, it is necessary to understand the Buriats in this war – and it does not matter if they participate in commiting the war crimes or not – represent a dispropotionally larger share of soldiers at this war relative to their total number. There are grounds for that. It is worth figuring out what Russia has done to this small nation – both in the imperal, and Soviets’ and putin’s times. The Buriat have their own national republic but it does not mean that the Buriat fighting in Ukraine are sure to come from it. The Russian authorities have did their best to allocate the Buriats in various Russia’s regions. Some Buriats really live in Buriatiia. The others live on two national districts! One of these is united with the Chita region, the later – with the Irkutsk region. This unification is sure to have happened under Putin, the district being deprived of autonomy and the Russian Federation subject status. In addition, there are also some Buriat areas in the Irkutsk region, never being entitled to any status. If you take a eek at hte ethnograthic map of the region, you will easily realize that the entire territory could be Buriat’s land. But it has never become. For the reason, it is easier to russify the Buriats piecemeal, and thus contribute to their degradation as a nation. Thus, they are a better subject to bullying.
I do not find it to be necessary to explain the entire Siberian area – deeply depressed province, young people have nothig to go or move at all. And it relates to the rural Buriat districts even more than the Republic of Buriatiia – you hardly start clarifying where the soldier comes from, from the very Buriatiia or the Ahyn Buriat area with its distinctive blue-and-yellow flag (I am wondering if it has been banned yet). Therefore, a contract military service is one of the few opportunities for a young man to earn money and start a family. And the fact is true: the Buriats drink spirits less than the ethnic Russian in the countryside. Another fact is also true: the national traditions, and hence the national sport, have been followed in a better way. Yes, the countryside Buriats are young and ctrong guys with no life prospects. They are the very “cannon fodder” which Putin so much needs. The only difference here is that no war, unless the nuclear one, can decimate 111 million of ethnic Russian. And the Buriats’ death at war is the issue of a small nation’s survival. But does Putin care about the Buriats?
It should be confessed that many of us feel like the murderer and rapist having a Mongoloid appearance. The ethnic Russian – especially those coming from the border regions and who may be ethnic Ukrainians – look so much like those whom they are killing and raping. Let the rappists and murderers be not those who take after us but the “orks” from the fairy-tale, or quite real Buriats, to take into consideration the number of them is larger than it could be.
“You are Buriat, I am so glad!” – the meeting between the Buriat soldier and Kobzon at a hospital on occupied Donbas. And it is very good that no single ethnic Russian appears in this film.
He does. It is the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and Putin’s Russia did their best to convert a small Siberian people into the “cannon fodder” for the ethnic Russian who watch thje war on TV and applaude Putin. The question arises, “What do we know of the Buriat people’s history?” How they were divided by two empires – Russian and Chinese ones? How they set up their own state – Buriat-Monholia, which existed for about as long as the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic? About the Buriat uprisings in China? And how the Buriat language was turned from the Old Mongolic writing to Latin one, later to the Cyrillic and how people were deprived their customs and heritage.About the Buriat chronicles, no other Siberian people has anything like that. What do we know about the translation of the Buddihisn encyclopediaTengyur in the century before last: by the way, it is 200 volumes in the refined Buriat language, the language which is disappearing , which can be heard only in the Buriat villages. It is easy to say these people are savages from the North. No way. These are people who struggled for their freedom and lost to the nations of multi-million population. And now they are being destroyed by the Russian authorities in another silly war. During World War II, thousands of Buriats perished at the Battle for Moscow – Stalin’s generals snowed the Germans under with Buriats’ corpses , and after the war nobody even mentioned it – who needs a Russian hero with such an eye-slit? In 2014, Buriats got burnt in the tanks at Donetsk, in 2022 – at Kyiv and Kharkiv. And no doubt, they tirned out to be rappists and murderers. Instead, the true Russians are good, “Do the Russian want war?” They obviously do not, they are good guys. The Buriats do.
What we are currently witnessing on our land is not only genocide against the Ukrainians. It is also genoside against the peoples of Russia, who have to die for the sake of someone’s imperial ambitions and who will never even thanked for that. Provided we are already thinking about the future of Ukraine as a democratic state, we are to speculate about the tragedy already now, when we can see a Buriat, Iakut or Avar among the Russian soldiers.
Buryat, Yakut or Avars do not need Ukrainian land. We know exactly who needs it.