Eurasia: Buryats Get Mixed Messages from Moscow

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jun 21 13:19:43 UTC 2007

Window on Eurasia: Buryats Get Mixed Messages from

Paul Goble

Vienna, June 18 – Two Russian leaders – one the outsider who has now been
confirmed as president of Buryatia and the other the Presidential
plenopotentiary for the Siberian Federal District – sent very different
messages to the Buryats over the last few days.
Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn, the Kremlin's nominee whom the republic parliament
confirmed on Friday by a vote of 57 to 4 (three deputies did not take part)
(, went out of his way to
indicate that he would be solicitous of Buryat interests and concerns.

He told the deputies that "a knowledge of the Buryat language is obligatory
for the president of Buryatia" -- even though the dropping of that
requirement earlier had made his appointment possible -- and said that he
had already found an instructor to teach him that tongue (
Nagovitsyn, an ethnic Russian who had never been to Buryatia let alone
served there before last week, also said that he would follow the course of
his predecessor in order that "the national dignity and culture be
preserved, lest Buryatia be lost as such. Then this would be some kind of
other republic."

But if Nagovitsyn was supportive almost to the point of pandering, Anatoliy
Kvashnin, the former army general who serves as Presidential plenopotentiary
to the Siberian Federal District within which Buryatia is now located,
appeared to be dismissive of Buryat and broader regional concerns (
Kvashnin rejected out of hand that President Vladimir Putin had appointed an
outsider in order to "block national movements" interested in uniting
Eastern Siberia into "a single region." And he said that he had "not heard
about such initiatives," which he noted would require "the [as yet
unexpressed] will of the population."
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