More information emerged this week about the declaration of independence in the Moscow suburb of Domodedovo, where opponents of a road project say they are seceding from Russia (as reported on in detail last week in this blog).
Despite earlier references to names like Domodedovo Republic and Democratic Republic of Rus, a Russian interview with the human-rights lawyer who is the public face of the movement, Yevgeni Arkhipov, just uses the name Russian Democratic Republic. “There are fifty people in the leadership group,” Arkhipov says, “and we have already gathered around 500 signatures. But when we started collecting signatures, it turned out that everyone supported us right away. So we stopped, because there’s no sense in continuing. Our activists have more important things to do.” Arkhipov also said that the new state “will be an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, but with a special status”—presumably even more autonomous than so-called autonomous republics like Tatarstan that have become steadily less autonomous under Vladimir Putin’s rule than under Boris Yeltsin’s, but the fact that Domodedovo also wants to join the European Union (E.U.) reflects a real misunderstanding of international politics.
The article also stressed that the original complaint is serious: “Forced demolitions and government land seizures have reached epidemic proportions both in Sochi”—site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, in the North Caucasus—“and in Eastern Russia near Vladivostok ahead of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that took place there recently,” and the Domodedovo road dispute in 2009 even led to human-rights concerns raised by Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France. Arkhipov also continued to blame an ethnic-Azeri mafia for enforcing the property seizures.
Finally, the article also describes the aspirant republic’s flag: “red and black, with a white symbol in the middle. The symbol was used by Russian princes during their wars against the Mongols.” Well, yes. This is indeed (see photo above, and discussion in my original article) the symbol of Kievan Rus’, a precursor to the Russian Empire with its capital at modern Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine, which both Ukrainian and Russian nationalists regard as an ancestor state. What the article fails to mention is that the red and black colors make it the exact flag used by the pro-Nazi fascist faction of the Ukrainian resistance during the Second World War.
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. Look for it in spring 2013. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]