ust as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident convinced many Ukrainians that they did not want to remain part of the Soviet Union, so too, despite all the differences in the extent of the disaster, the Sayan-Shushen dam accident is leading many Siberians to conclude the same thing about remaining part of the Russian Federation.
Many in Moscow and elsewhere continue to comfort themselves with the notion that it is wrong to draw any parallels between the impact of Chernobyl on Ukrainians and the impact of Sayan-Shushen on Siberians. After all, they say, Siberia has “nowhere to go.” But that is not quite the case, Tarasov suggests.
“Under Gorbachev and Yeltsin, only a politician who did not need public support could fail to speak about the necessity of decolonizing [that region with its immense natural resources] and the establishment of a Siberian (Eastern Siberian, Central Siberian and Yenisey) Republic” as a goal of Russian policy.
Under Putin, however, no one remembered “Siberian separatism” because Moscow had “buried the theme of regional patriotism.” And efforts by the supporters of that idea seldom found much support. But if a problem is not discussed, Tarasov says, “it does not disappear. It simply goes into the underground.”
The Sayan-Shushen dam disaster and even more the way Moscow has mishandled it and the media have discussed it suggest that Siberian separatism may be about to re-emerge and challenge not only the relationship between Putin and the oligarchs but also that between “the colony” of Siberia and the imperial center.
hmmm. That might be overblown, but...