- Minority republics of the Russian Federation have suffered more losses in the war than Moscow and St Petersburg combined
- Possible reasons include higher poverty rates among non-ethnic Russians and prejudice against them
- Minorities mount resistance to “partial mobilisation” as casualties in their regions grow
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Independent Russian media outlet Mediazona has revealed that the republics of Dagestan and Buryatia, populated mostly by non-whites, have suffered the highest death tolls in the Ukraine war. The total number of confirmed Russian casualties is 7,184, with the real number likely in the tens of thousands.
The game is rigged against minorities
As Mediazona’s latest data show, the lists of those killed in action are dominated by minorities. The republics of Dagetsan and Buryatia have suffered more losses than Moscow and St Petersburg combined. These are regions mostly populated by North Caucausian Muslims (Dagestan) and Asian Buddhists (Buryatia).
According to Victoria Maladaeva, vice president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, the chances of a Buryat dying in the war in Ukraine is 7.8 times higher than [an ethnic] Russian; a Tuvan is 10.4 times more likely.
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“In Dagestan, there are endangered ethnic groups. Some are super small communities with populations of about 13,000, and they were still drafted. We see this as an ethnic genocide,” Victoria Maladaeva added.
Economic, racial, and political reasons
The European Centre for Minority Issues says this disparity in casualties is partly caused by poverty. Non-white republics tend to be the most impoverished regions of the Russian Federation. For residents of those areas, enlisting in the military is one of the few ways to earn an income.
It is also likely that the Russian government sees minorities as less valuable than ethnic Russians and, therefore, more dispensable.
“To conquer another territory and make it part of the empire, you use national minorities . . . because they are expendable,” said Alexandra Garmazhapova, head of the Free Buryatia Foundation. “So what if 200 Buryats die?”
Another possible reason is the political one.
“In Putin’s eyes, it’s all about ensuring his regime survives,” said Adrian Florea, a senior lecturer in Central and Eastern European Studies at Glasgow University. “The Kremlin is banking on the idea that minorities are much less likely to organise large-scale demonstrations than people in major urban centres.”
Minorities are resisting mobilisation
However, the idea that non-ethnic Russians wouldn’t resist was a miscalculation. On September 25, after Vladimir Putin announced “partial mobilisation,” fierce protests erupted in Dagestan. The protesters, mostly women, clashed with police in Makhachkala. More demonstrations took place in the village of Endirey in Dagestan.
About 400 people joined a campaign against mobilisation in Yakutsk, the capital of the far-north republic of Yakutia. In Kabardino-Balkaria, another minority republic, a few dozen people attended the protest.
In a violent crackdown on the anti-mobilisation protests, the police arrested more than 2,000 people.
Russia invasion of Ukraine: Man in wheelchair sent to war front
In another report, a disabled man bound to a wheelchair has been strictly instructed to join the Russian military in its Ukrainian invasion.
Oleg Vasiliev, who hails from Moscow, has muscular atrophy and has been ordered to join the military.
According to The Telegraph, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilisation of men to enlist in the military after his men suffered multiple defeats against Ukraine. Vasiliev is supposed to report to the military commissar based on the fourth floor, which he says he is unable as he moves around in a wheelchair.