From Buryatia to Ukraine and back



July 14, 2022

“The Free Buryatia Foundation is the first ethnic anti-war movement in Russia, which was organized by the activists from Buryatia. The overwhelming majority of them are Buryats.

From the very beginning of the war, our region has been among the leaders in terms of losses. It is important for us to declare that we are Buryats, and we are against the war. We consider the war with Ukraine xenophobic because if Russia had a tolerant society, then the idea of “denazifying” Ukraine, namely, to assert that Ukrainians have no language and history, would not find support among the Russians.

The indigenous peoples of Russia have been and are being subjected to the notorious “denazification,” which in reality is total Russification. We understand what it is like to have your language and culture banned. Kalmyks, like the Caucasian peoples, went through the wheels of Stalin's repressions - they were deported. When coming to Moscow and St. Petersburg, the residents of the national republics still face xenophobia and racism.

Despite that, the military personnel from these same regions are sent to Ukraine to defend the “Russian world.” There is a campaign in the media to discredit the Buryats - it looks like Buryatia attacked Ukraine, not Russia. Yes, Buryatia is suffering heavy losses, but Buryats are a minority wherever they live. In Buryatia itself, we make up only 30%, and in Russia, we are 0.3%. The same picture is in the military units ...

<...> Our Foundation collects the statistics on the causalities. We help the military personnel to terminate their contracts. We are making every effort to prevent military personnel from Buryatia from traveling to Ukraine. We believe that this should be done by activists in every [Russian] region. We are ready to help and share our experiences. Let's fight propaganda together and do everything so that not a single foot of a Russian soldier ends on the territory of Ukraine again!"