Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ingush Supreme Court Rejects Deputies’ Challenge to Yevkurov Border Law


Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – At a brief hearing today, the collegium of the Ingush Supreme Court rejected an appeal by deputies of the republic’s Popular Assembly against a lower court that had approved the law former republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov pushed through in order to bypass the republic constitution and approve his border accord with Chechnya.

            The Ingush jurists announced that they had found neither procedural nor substantive grounds for overturning the Magas district court decision (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/339122/ and capost.media/news/society/verkhovnyy-sud-ingushetii-ostavil-v-sile-reshenie-o-granitse-s-chechney/).

            The deputies had argued that Yevkurov had falsified the vote in the Assembly to get the bill through and that any decision about changing the borders of the republic must, according to the Ingush constitution, be subject to a popular referendum, something the former republic head did not want to take the risk of holding.

            Meanwhile, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, Yevkurov’s successor, continued his efforts to put his stamp on the republic administration, this time appointing his relative, Mikhail Ilezov, as an advisor. Ilezov had worked in various positions in the republic before, most recently as a senior official in the postal service (kavkazr.com/a/30112738.html).

            And Ingush opposition blogger, Magomed Mutsolgov, who heads the republic section of the Yabloko Party, issued his most sweeping assessment yet of the new republic head.  “I am certain,” he writes, “that the change of the head of the republic did not change the system of administration.”

            Yevkurov’s people “continue to sit in their chairs; and more than that, I consider that Kalimatov either does not control what is taking place in the republic or is no different from his predecessor who led the republic into the most serious social-political crisis” (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/342/posts/39140).

Saturday, August 17, 2019

After Putin, National Bolshevism will Continue Despite Another Bout of False Liberalization, Ivanov Says


Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 15 – After Vladimir Putin passes from the scene, Mikhail Ivanov says in an essay for the Riga-based Russian conservative Harbin portal, neo-Marxism is likely to take center stage for awhile but do little to change the national Bolshevik system that has dominated Russia since 1917.

            He says that this is “no secret” among “the majority of White Russian and the pro-European inclined rightists” because they know that “the anti-Russian, anti-European and on the whole ‘anti-White’ system founded by the Bolsheviks after October 1917 and preserved to this day” isn’t going to be easily dispensed with (harbin.lv/prekrasnaya-rossiya-budushchego).

            That system has put down such deep roots and raised more than one generation of people, he argues,  that escaping from it “under current conditions is almost impossible and it is improbable that it will go away completely” even if it is shaken by changes in the composition of people in power in the Kremlin.

            “This system will change only its wrappings, leaving unchanged the rotting candy inside” -- although the author says he would very much like to use another less polite term. With each new wrapper, some will be deceived and see it as a change to welcome or oppose; but those who see what is really inside will remain in relationship to it as they were.

            According to Ivanov, the next new “packaging will again involve a playing with ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’ as in the 1990s. Only in contrast to the 1990s, the future ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’ will have a clear neo-Marxist coloration.” It won’t matter very much who is the nominal leader because the system will in fact continue.

             “Two forces which form the skeleton of the present-day neo-Bolshevism system – the members of United Russia and the siloviki” will continue to dominate things albeit under different names. And any lustration, if it happens at all, “will be extremely superficial and purely for show,” the Harbin writer says. 

The system understands or should, Ivanov says, “that the quicker such a synthesis takes place, the fewer changes there will be that the cursed people will come out into the streets with cobblestones or Molotov cocktails with all the ensuing and irreversible consequences from such a development.”

            The West will be charmed by the new packaging of “’the bright Russia of the future’” because it will play to all the themes liberals in the West care about – “tolerance, gay rights, feminism, and so on” – without touching the fundamental property and power relations of Russian society.

            “Alas,” Ivanov says, “I don’t see any political force which could oppose this trend and take power into its own hands.” The only way forward is to articulate a set of ideas that could capture the population, including “tough anti-communism, anti-neo-Marxism, and extremely tough anti-imperialism.”  Such a combination would have a chance to produce a right of center but European-oriented Russia.

            That probably won’t happen, he suggests, and so Russia will go through another cycle of playing at democracy but continuing to be what it has been, one that will deceive many inside the country and out and only make the situation worse for both.

Putin will Be Followed by a New Putin, Excluding Chance of Russia’s Democratization Anytime Soon, Volkov Says


 Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 15 – A week ago, Russian historian Sergey Volkov attracted attention for declaring that he saw little or no chance for democracy to emerge in Russia anytime soon because it lacks important preconditions (newizv.ru/article/general/09-08-2019/istorik-narod-na-samom-dele-ne-vosstaet-nigde-i-nikogda).

            If Russia doesn’t disintegrate or somehow “radically softens,” he wrote, “within a few years some new Putin will arrive on the scene” almost immediately. But if it does break apart and remains much as it is, then it will remain under the same kind of ruler for a long time to come at the very least “for decades.”

            Not surprisingly, Volkov’s pessimistic assessment of Russia’s chances for democratization drawn fire; and in response, he has now explained the basis for his assumptions in a new blogpost that Novyye izvestiya has reposted (salery.livejournal.com/172220.html in newizv.ru/article/general/15-08-2019/istorik-volkov-esche-raz-ob-yasnil-pochemu-v-rossii-nevozmozhna-demokratiya).

He says that Russia could move toward democracy only under conditions which do not now exist – “an establishment which had been in place for sometime and was free from the fear that it would lose its property,” something that would allow it make the kind of concessions to the population that could allow democratic arrangements to arise.

Because of its history, Russia doesn’t have such a group of people “and for a long time ahead won’t” either. Consequently, some new Putin will appear, a development that may or may not be disastrous depending on how he behaves. As Volkov points out, “the real Putin at various times has behaved differently.”

There is a very simple reason why “our ‘democrats’” can’t take power or remain democrats if they do.  They don’t have anyone of their own who will carry out their orders. They need “their own ‘police’ but don’t have anywhere from which to get one. And if they came to power, the 1990s would return with bandits in place of police and the population desirous of a new autocrat.

“’The force structures,’” the historian says, “always stand at the advanced edge of the regime and even if they are not its essence, their preservation or replacement always serves as an inerrant indicator of ‘whether there was a revolution or not.’”  When there is, they are replaced; when there isn’t, they aren’t.

When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia and the ayatollahs in Iran, they cleaned house, replacing the siloviki of the old order with their own. “It is completely impossible to imagine” that the Bolsheviks would have been willing to count on the tsarist police to protect them and enforce their wishes.

Any new power needs “a corresponding contingent of people who are ready to kill and die for this power,” Volkov says. “The Bolsheviks and the Iranian mullahs in the form of the Red Guard and the Guardians of the Revolution had such a contingent, and there they did not have any problems with staffing their own ‘police.’”

“The psychology of ‘the siloviki,’” he continues, “by its nature means that they are prepared to subordinate themselves to the accustomed authorities or their representatives … are ready to subordinate themselves to some new ‘forceful people’ … but are not under any circumstances ready to take orders from ‘the lousy democrats.’”

They might have been willing to take orders from Aleksey Navalny, someone who has the reputation as “a secret nationalist and populist.” Indeed, fears that they might explain why the Kremlin reacted to him as it has, Volkov suggests.  But Navalny has faded and no one like him has arisen to take his place.

As a result, the historian concludes, “’a new Putin’ will emerge out of that part of the elite which will organize a new perestroika or out of the opposition which will take shape after the appearance” of the results of such a development of events.