The supporters of incumbent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are calling on the Verkhovna Rada to adopt an appeal to the UN, PACE, Parliamentary Assembly of NATO, as well as other national parliaments to come to the defense of minority nations in Russia against increasing Moscow oppression of them.
The draft resolution singles out as at particular risk the peoples of the North Caucasus, Idel-Ural, and Siberia and says that the central Russian government has been stepping up its oppression of them since 2014 when it invaded Ukraine, seized Crimea, and began the war in the Donbas.
In part, this action reflects increasing activism by emigres from these regions who have been forced out of their homelands by Russian abuses; and in part, it is the product of Kyiv’s decision to raise ethnic questions in Russia because Moscow constantly does so with respect to Ukraine.
But what makes this appeal, scheduled to be voted on this week, so important is that it represents a marker of where Ukrainian policy is and a challenge to the incoming administration of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. On the one hand, he may want to avoid such sharp statements; but on the other, he may see this is a useful political tool against Russian aggression.
The reaction of Zelenskyy, deputies loyal to him, and candidates in the upcoming Verkhovna Rada elections will thus say a lot not only about where Kyiv is heading but also about the possibilities of the minority nations inside Russia in the coming months to gain attention and outside support.
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