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Russia, where separatism is illegal, hosted a conference for foreign separatist groups

Thousands of people rallied on the streets of Moscow on Sunday to demand fair elections and challenge Vladimir Putin's 15-year-old rule, in the first significant opposition protest in the capital for months.
Reuters/ Maxim Shemetov
We stand apart.
  • Olivia Goldhill
By Olivia Goldhill

Science reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Russia invited a bunch of international separatist groups, including dissidents from Ireland, Spain, Italy, the US, and Ukraine, to discuss “the right to self-determination” to a Moscow conference—despite “separatism” being a crime in Russia.

Several representatives spoke on Ukraine, where Russia is backing rebels in an ongoing conflict against the government. Sinn Féin member Diarmaid Mac Dubhghlais said the eastern Ukraine conflict was comparable to the “Ireland of years ago,” and that the pro-Russian rebels were fighting a “fascist government,” according to The Guardian.

“We are no longer subjects in Ukraine, but mere objects,” Vladimir Sverzhin, a soldier who fought for “Novorossiya” independence until last year, told The Independent. “It’s the fault of the new government in Kiev, who in turn is the puppet of its master, the US. Every country in the world has to live in such a way that is convenient to the US.”

Opposition to the US was a common theme throughout the conference. Speakers blamed Washington for the war in eastern Ukraine and conflict in Syria, according to The Guardian, but no mention was made of Russia’s Ukrainian interests or arms shipments to Syria.

Russia’s decision to host the conference, titled “Dialogue of Nations: The right to self-determination and the construction of a multipolar world,” is at odds with its own attitude towards dissidents. Russia created a law against separatism in 2013, and has imprisoned activists for the charge.

Those who attended the conference cam from:

  • Spain: Catalan Solidarity for Independence
  • Ireland: Irish Republican Socialist Party and Sinn Féin
  • US: Independent and Sovereign Nation State of Hawaii and the African People’s Socialist Party
  • Puerto Rico: National Sovereign State of Borinken
  • Italy: European Communitarianist Party
  • Western Sahara region: Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Polisario Front

But though the organisers, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (ADR), had suggested that a Scottish delegation  would speak, there was no sign of them at the conference.

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