Monday, September 25, 2023

Committee for Ingushetia Independence Identifies Émigré Activist Ansar Garkkho as Its Leader

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 15 – The Committee for Ingushetia Independence is assuming ever clearer shape. Created at the start of 2023 ( and, it has now announced the name of its president.

            He is Ansar Garkkho, 38. His elevation was reported on September 11 after he met with the leaders of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis to discuss how the two national liberation movements could cooperate ( and

            After finishing school in Malgobek in 2004, Garkkho studied at the legal faculty of Ingush State University where he also received training in information technology. Since graduating, he has been increasingly active in opposing Russian policies in Ingushetia and has been subjected to persecution because of that.

            In 2014, he was among those behind the establishment of the Afiya charitable foundation which helped poor children there; and in 2016, he was one of the organizers of the Anti-Lirik youth movement which worked to oppose the distribution of drugs in the republic. Forced to leave Russia in 2017, he has continued his charitable work abroad.

            According to the movement, Garkkho is “one of the founders and directors of the YouTube project Golos Istiny, helped organize the Ingush diaspora in Istanbul, and has been the head of the Committee for Ingush Independence since its foundation. He is married and has six children.


Recent Elections Showed Pro-Putin Majority Far From Monolithic, Belokonyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 18 – The recent elections in the regions showed two trends that are likely to become even more important as Russia moves toward presidential elections next year: United Russia and the LDPR are gaining support while the KPRF and Just Russia are losing it, and the social “divide” between Moscow and the regions is “intensifying, Sergey Belokonyev says.

            The director of the Moscow Institute of Global Studies at Russia’s Financial University draws those conclusions but warns that the central authorities have not yet taken them sufficiently into account and aren’t taking the steps necessary to make the pro-Putin majority monolithic (

            Unless that happens in the next few months or if conditions deteriorate in the Ukrainian war , he suggests, it is entirely possible that one or another opposition figure could peel away from Vladimir Putin some of the support he suggests, especially in regions and republics like Khakassia. That could deepen the divide between Moscow and the federal subjects and even provoke a political crisis.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Moscow Pulls Out of Barents Cooperation Council, Blames Nordics for Its Decision

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 18 – Moscow has told the other members of the Barents Cooperation group that Moscow is withdrawing from that organization because the Nordic countries have refused to cooperate with Russia or promise that Russia will assume the chairmanship later this year as the organization’s charter specifies.

            This step is entirely the fault of the other members of the group – Norway, Sweden and Finland – Russia says; and it reflects what Moscow says are a mistaken approach by those countries which fails to take into consideration the long-term interests of all ( and

            The Barents cooperation group was set up in 1993 to promote cross-border contacts between the northernmost regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway with northwestern Russia. The Nordics suspended their cooperation with Russia after Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine. Now, Russia has responded.

            Moscow’s formal withdrawal from this group and the end of its cooperation with the Arctic Council could open the way for the Russian government to create an alternative Arctic organization that would include China but none of the traditional Arctic powers (

Those who Want Positive Change in Russia Can’t Count on a Ukrainian Victory to Deliver It, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 15 – Many observers and political opponents of the Putin regime believe that a Ukrainian victory over Russia could lead to positive changes in Russia, including the replacement of his government with a democratic one; but this argument, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, gets things backward.

            “Ukraine’s military achievements should not be viewed as a guarantee for Russia’s freedom,” the Russian economist and commentator says. Instead, changes inside Russia are the most likely cause both of a Ukrainian victory and of the emergence of a Russia that Putin’s opponents would like (

            According to Inozemtsev, “the freedom of Russia is related to the victory of Ukraine,” but the first is the cause and the second the effect rather than the other way around. Obviously, “a free and democratic Russia must undoubtedly condemn Putin’s policies, rid itself of its fascist present … and do everything necessary to prevent the resurgence of authoritarian chauvinism.”

“Therefore, the freedom of Russia implies the success of Ukraine … Nonetheless, Ukraine's military achievements should not be viewed as a guarantee for Russia's freedom.” And from that it follows that “if the Russian opposition wants victory for Ukraine, it must finally focus on liberating Russia” itself rather that hoping for a deus ex machina from abroad.

 Inozemtsev draws these conclusions on the basis of the final months of World War I, a conflict that he suggests the current Russian-Ukrainian one “closely resembles.” He argues that this “state of affairs could last for many years” and attempts by Kyiv to destabilize Russia are unlikely to have the desired result.

“Numerous predictions about destabilization in the Kremlin, ‘a transfer of power,’ and Putin's rapidly deteriorating health have been at least erroneous, or at most, a conscious and blatant falsehood,” he continues.  And “presumably, Ukraine's successes on the front are not likely until 2024-2025 when the Russian regime will have gone through a period of potential turbulence.”

Moreover, Inozemtsev argues, “no victories of the Ukrainian army are likely to reach a scale sufficient for them to be identified as the final failure of the Putin regime in the mind of the average Russian. Hence, I am inclined to assume that no military success by Ukraine in the foreseeable future will trigger a political crisis in Russia.”

What happened at the end of World War I is instructive: peace came not as a result of military victories but rather because of political changes in the combatants. And defeats did not necessary lead those suffering them to change or to move in the positive direction so many hoped for.

“Moreover,” Inozemtsev writes, “solidarity with the Ukrainian people, apparently, has not become a unifying force even for the Russian emigration.” And  “for a significant part of the remaining Russians in the country, the unity of opponents of the Putin regime with Ukrainian resistance and their anti-war stance became an important factor contributing to the rejection of the opposition agenda.”

What all this means, the commentator concludes is that if the Russian opposition wants victory for Ukraine” and if it hopes for positive change in Russia itself, “it must finally focus on liberating Russia from within and not from the outside.”

By Inviting Putin to Visit North Korea, Kim Jong-Un has Given the Kremlin Leader the Chance to Go to a World Capital other than The Hague, Some Russians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 15 – Kim Jong-Un has expanded Putin’s options as far as foreign travel is concerned, some Russians say. Before the North Korean leader asked the Kremlin one to visit Pyongyang, Putin’s only real invitation to travel approach came from the international war crimes court in The Hague.

            That is just one of the anecdotes Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova has collected and posted on line this week ( Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       Expanded cooperation between North Korea and Russia shows just how bad things are for both countries.

·       Shuttering the airline company that was behind the Ural Airlines disaster is a precedent that should be expanded to include shuttering all those responsible for all the other disasters in Russia over the last two decades.

·       The Kremlin has given the defense ministry the power not to include in contract service Russians without legs, without arms and without eyes as it scrapes the bottom of the barrel to find more troops.

·       If Kim joined the union state of Russia and Belarus, then the North Korean leader could become Putin’s successor. That would certainly cause the West to shudder in fear.

·       A new rector at a formerly prestigious university asks a senior professor whether he supports the government’s foreign and domestic policies. The professor says he approves and supports. Pressed for his own opinion, the professor acknowledges that he has his own view but neither approves nor supports it.

·       Once again the most constant thing in Russia today are temporary difficulties.


By 2050, Climate Change will Depress Central Asian Economies by 1.3 Percent a Year and Lead to Five Million ‘Climate Migrants’ There, Kazakhstan President Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 16 – Many in Central Asia have begun to talk about just how serious climate change will be for that region, but now Kazakhstan President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev has offered what may be the most dire prediction of all: the economies of the countries there will fall by 1.3 percent every year by 2050 and that there will be five million climate migrants.

            Tokayev’s comments came at a session of the summit of the Central Asian countries who earlier created the International Foundation for the Salvation of the Aral Sea and are an indication that most of them see the battle for that sea as lost and are now focusing on larger issues (

            Rising temperatures, declining flows of water from melting glaciers in the mountains, and poor water economy are all contributing to this situation which is already beyond the capacity of the countries there to manage. Tokayev’s words thus are directed not just at Central Asian leaders but at the international community which will have to intervene or face a spreading disaster.

Kaliningrad on Its Way to Becoming ‘Fourth Baltic Republic,’ Polish Military Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 13 – According to Polish military analyst Maksymilian Dura, “one of the consequences of the war in Ukraine may be the separation of Koenigsberg oblast from Russia and the establishment of a fourth Baltic state.” Moscow is already alarmed by that prospect and is trying to convince people there that they have no chance to achieve such a goal.

            Dura says that the task of the region’s population is both easier and harder than was the recovery of independence by the other Baltic countries: easier because the other three have succeeded and shown the way, and harder because the population of Kaliningrad is not ethnically homogeneous ( translated into russian at

            Most of its people are from the Slavic republics of the former Soviet Union, but increasingly, Dura continues, they are animated not by such ethnic attachments but by local patriotism, especially given that until sanctions, they had travelled more frequently to the West than to Russia.

            Moscow is working to suppress such feelings not only by placing troops in the region and requiring that the relatives of soldiers there live elsewhere but also by real terror and the suppression of political groups seeking greater autonomy and even independence. But such efforts are often counterproductive, Dura suggests, highlighting how strong such attitudes are.

            The Russian government would be far more successful in appeasing the Koenigsbergers if it offered them genuine autonomy in a real federal system, but as long as Putin is in power, there seems to be little willingness to consider such a strategy. As a result, Koenigsberg is on its way to becoming, albeit not immediately, “the fourth Baltic republic.”