There is a nation captive within the Russian Empire. The Erzya’s number is less than one million. They predate Russians on their ethnographic territory partially in what is now known as Mordovia.
On October 17th, 2023 some twenty of their activists were arrested, interrogated, robbed of their cell phones and computers. Ultimately, they were let go with a warning to support Russia in its current war against Ukraine.
This is a part of the contemporary Russian aggression which is a cause of concern for the whole world as it appears on our screens and troubles our lives.
On October 19th, 2023 the Erzya leadership, with its chief elder who is currently in exile in Ukraine, issued a statement.
I met with him and an associate in Kyiv several days ago.
We spoke in Ukrainian and English. The chief elder is also the current president of the Free Nations League, a network based in Europe of nations struggling within the Russian empire.
He told me, “We often hear voices advocating the preservation of the Russian Federation, which express concern that the collapse of this monster will lead to unnecessary trouble!
“You are “worried” about the fate of our executioner?
“But what about democratic, universal principles and values? What about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Russia will fall apart anyway, and it will be sooner rather than later.
“But we are aware that it will have enough time to destroy many of us. Your concern does not extend to the disenfranchised existence of millions of non-Russians.
“Over the past ten years, the number of Erzya alone has decreased by 200,000 people. The price for your “tranquillity” is the lives of our peoples, and it is growing rapidly!
“You can, you are strong, you are just, pay attention to our situation, unless your talk about principles and values is grandiloquent but empty declarations!”
I came away from our meeting with a renewed purpose and a much better understanding as to the current war. It’s about territory, but more importantly about good and evil and the further duration of this Russian scourge.
From my perspective as an American, it’s also about America’s role in ridding the world today and the future world of our children of this menace which not only evokes fear, destroys our planet and costs trillions of dollars that should be used to fight poverty and disease.
Even in a less than perfect world the Russian empire should not exist. Russians could then become civilized and, perhaps, even democratic. Russian mothers and the Russian church would not be forces for evil.
War is an awful occurrence. History has proven that. However, it sometimes offers opportunities.
The post World War 2 history of our relationship with Communist Russia remains very relevant today. The USSR suffered great losses in World War 2.
Were it not for the naivete of American leadership and Soviet infiltration of our own government, State and Treasury of which there is no doubt, which led to incongruous appeasement, we could have prevented a Cold War.
America was in a position to secure a just and peaceful world without the Russian Communist menace which blighted the world for almost half a century thereafter.
Yet we failed to act on behalf of the freedom loving non-Russian people in the USSR and its satellites.
People all over the world suffered, but mostly those captive nations which were persecuted, their culture repressed, and their activists incarcerated, tortured and killed, an all because of our American failure to act.
The Soviet Russian regime and the Russian empire are one scourge distinguished only by name and time. God, fate and history are giving the freedom loving and democratic world another chance.
In particular this opportunity has been afforded us through the courage and because of the blood of the Ukrainian people.
There are many such peoples and nations, albeit less populous within the Russian empire.
There are also those on the fringe of the empire such as Belarusians, Georgians, Armenians, Kazakhs and others who continue to face fear on a daily basis lest they attempt to forge a truly independent existence free of the Russian scourge.
Similar to the Erzya, some tens of nations within the Empire itself have expressed their desire to be free. They include Tatars in Tatarstan, Chechens, Buryats, Bashkirs, Oirat-Kalmyks, Sakha-Yakuts and others.
In order to keep their hope alive they need an expression or manifestation of compassion, understanding and support from us Americans. We turned our back on the people oppressed by Russia before.
Let’s not repeat our mistake!
Image: By Erzianj jurnalist, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3407684