Majority retort: Communist ethnic cards marked

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vitkin
A top official of the United Russia party has criticized the Communist party’s suggestion to bring back ‘indication of ethnicity’ in passports is a pre-election populist ploy that contradicts Communist ideology.

Yuri Shuvalov told reporters on Tuesday that a recent initiative by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation to reintroduce the ethnicity of passport holders was a mere attempt to “pose as the defenders of the majority” before December parliamentary elections.

“It is understandable that ahead of the poll many parties are trying to present themselves as defenders of the majority,” Shuvalov said. “But belonging to Russian culture does not mean a mere line in the passport.”

The United Russia official pointed out that the Communists declare themselves to be internationalists, while simultaneously make nationalist statements. Shuvalov also noted that it was not clear what particular purpose it would serve to bring back the “fifth article” – the common name of the ethnicity notation that was official practice in the Soviet times.

“If they want to learn the ethnic composition of the country’s population, the census data could serve better here,” the official of Russia’s majority party said. “And if they want to determine the rights of every citizen in connection with his ethnic backgrounds, this speaks very colorfully about the current state of the Communist Party.”

“It is possible that their suggestion is simply an old Soviet principle – there must be a certificate for every person, it is just safer this way. But history has shown us that the communists’ attempts to solve the national question ended in the breakup of the state,” the deputy secretary of the presidium of the Supreme Council of the United Russia Party concluded.

The “fifth article” existed in the Soviet passports but disappeared from the Passports of the Russian Federation that gradually replaced the Soviet IDs in the 1990s. There were suggestions to allow citizens to indicate their ethnicity in the passports on the voluntary basis, but it has not gained much popularity.