Over a hundred years ago, the Russian empire conscripted its Central Asian subjects to fight in the First World War. This led to an anti-imperialist uprising known as Urkun – mainly among the Kyrgyz and Kazakhs, but also Uzbek, Tajik and Turkmen people. The uprising ended in catastrophe: up to 270,000 were killed by Tsarist troops, and tens of thousands more died trying to escape to Xinjiang in China. It is estimated that 40% of the Kyrgyz population were killed in the aftermath.
History repeats itself. On 21 September, Vladimir Putin announced the “partial mobilisation” of 300,000 Russians with previous military experience. Evidence suggests that out of the reservists currently being mobilised and those who have already fought and died, ethnic minority groups – who come from impoverished communities – are overrepresented.
There are currently three major ethnic minority groups being sucked into Russian mobilisation. The first are the Russified indigenous ethnic minorities who live in regions like Dagestan, Yakutya and Buryatia and are Russian citizens. Then there are naturalised migrants (many of whom are Central Asian), who may or may not have the appropriate military training. The third are the non-naturalised Central Asian migrants who won’t be conscripted in the latest draft but who might sign up to fight for money or the chance to fast-track their citizenship process.
“Various experts and journalists refer to 1916 and say it is repeating today; that this is the time when our big neighbour in the north is trying to use Asians to prevail in its own geopolitical war,” says Dr Erica Marat, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington DC who specialises in security institutions in the likes of Eurasia.
“The current mobilisation campaign of labour migrants is now framed by scholars [of Urkun] as the third attack on ethnic groups. The first [was Urkun] in 1916, then Stalin’s purges in the 1930s and now under Putin in 2022.”
(с) @ anni_tett : “This story is about Olesya Vorotniuk, ballerina of the National Opera of Ukraine. When Russia attack Ukraine in February Olesya did not consider evacuation, instead she decided to defend the country with weapons in her hands. So had done her military husband, who was killed by russians three years ago in the east of Ukraine. Olesya joined Territorial Defense troop. She also helped evacuate people and took them to safer regions in the west of Ukraine. At the beginning of June, Olesya decided to return to the National Opera. The Russian troops retreated from the Kyiv region, so now the artist can do ballet again. She knows she can be called into service any time again, though. Olesya hones her shooting skills every day and volunteers. After all, the war with Russia is far from over”.
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Look, I know this generation copes with humor and whatnot but it’s so sad to see how people can turn the situation in Ukraine into a meme. This is an actual country with people who have lives just like yours. It’s just strange to see people make jokes about it from hundreds of miles away, while people who live there are genuinely scared.