n.26 October 2009

Russian has 120 officially recognized ethnic minorities, China another 50. Most are in Asia, on the border between the former Soviet Union and newly capitalist China. The demands of these minorities, violent at times, have created serious dilemmas for both Moscow and Beijing in recent years. In this issue, reports from Fernando Orlandi and Claudia Astarita attempt to draw a detailed map of Asia’s most prominent minorities, as well as their histories.

We also continue what has been a year long reflection on the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was dealt with at length in east 25 This time around, two internationally renowned scholars, both members of the magazine’s Correspondents’ Committee, weigh in on the subject. They are the Russian writer and social scientist Lev Gudkov and Romania’s Vladimir Tismaneanu.

Our in-depth reports come from Emiliano Bos, who probes the problems faced byBangladesh; Massimiliano Di Pasquale on Cossack Zaporizhia; and Emanuele Confortini, who examines life on the contested Kashmiri border between India and Pakistan.

Finally, we dedicate our Dossier to China and the challenges it confronts while facing the ongoing global economic crisis. You’ll find reports from Alessandro Arduino, Cristina Bombelli, Giampiero Garioni, and Rita Fatiguso. The Dossier opens with an interview with economist Mario Deaglio.

Vittorio Borelli

SUMMARY


As I write, we don’t know how Germany will be governed over the next four years, and whether Angela Merkel will succeed herself.

Russia officially lists 120 minority groups while China claims 55. Most inhabit border territories between the two massive states. While Russia has its hands full in the Caucuses, the Chinese may soon face even greater problems in Xingjian, where the Uyghurs want their voices heard.

Estimates put China's ethnic Miao population at 10 million people, most of them living in destitute conditions in the country's south. Like other Chinese minorities, the Miao have had to reckon with Han majority prejudice and the limiting edicts of the Communist regime. Frenchwoman Françoise Grenot-Wang championed their cause - until she died last year in a mysterious fire. Now what?

The latter phases of Soviet totalitarianism witnessed a massive increase in the size of alreadybloated state bureaucracy. The Communist Party's so-called nomenklatura grew in size and incompetence. Though the collapse of the Soviet system hinted at fundamental change, the hope proved illusory. Instead, Vladimir Putin has turned the clock back and revived the nomenklatura, turning modern Russia into a state that represents ‘authoritarianism without modernization’.

Have contributed to this issue:
Alessandro Arduino
Cristina Bombelli
Emiliano Bos
Emanuele Confortin
Massimiliano Di Pasquale
Lorena Di Placido
Rita Fatiguso
Giampietro Garioni
Alessandra Garusi
Marina Gersony
Lev Gudkov
Francesca Lancini
Carlotta Magnanini
Giovanni Moro
Fabio Mucci
Fernando Orlandi
Debora Revoltella
Sergio Romano
Monica Ruffa
Farian Sabahi
György Schöpflin
Piero Sinatti
Vladimir Tismaneanu
Maria Elena Viggiano
Vittorio Borelli