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Clarifying `Nation' Status in Former USSR

March 23, 1994



Certain elements of the economy-page article ``No Time Like the Present to Invest in Eastern Siberia's Sakha Republic,'' March 9, are inaccurate and misleading.

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First, the Republic of Sakha is not a ``newly independent state in northeastern Siberia.'' It is a newly autonomous republic. Sakha is one of more than 80 such entities that constitute Russia, which is formally called the Russian Federation.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia itself became a ``newly independent state,'' though for diplomatic purposes it assumed many, but not all, of the USSR's international responsibilities and obligations.

Nor is Sakha a ``nation,'' at least not in the traditional sense of the word in which ``nation'' refers to a specific subject of international law.

Second, referring to the Republic of Sakha alongside ``fledgling republics,'' such as Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine, implies that all of these entities are somehow equivalent.

They are not. Sakha is a part of a country; Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine are separate countries, and have been for almost three years.

Isn't it time to end the confusion? Isn't it time to refer to Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, etc., as what they are - countries, instead of as ``former republics,'' ``republics,'' or ``newly independent states''? Petro Matiaszek, New York Editorial Board member The Ukrainian Quarterly