Saturday, February 4, 2023

With Defeat, Russia’s Imperialist War Abroad Set to Become a Mafia War at Home, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 1 – During World War I, Lenin called on the working class to transform the imperialist war into a civil war and thus hasten the day when the working class could take power. According to Aleksandr Yakovenko, something similar is likely to happen after Russia suffers a defeat in Ukraine.

            The sociologist and commentator says that following such a defeat, Russia is likely to enter a new “time of troubles,” one  which will be marked less by protests about social problems than by “a mafia war” in which the various “clans” within the state will fight with one another using parts of the newly “privatized” army (

            Yakovenko says this will be a prelude to the “third and final period of the disintegration of the Russian Empire;” but it will be one  in which growing social protest will be “swallowed up by the mafia war.” He argus that “the leaders of the regions, including the national republics will be able to try to become the main beneficiaries of this war.”

            And consequently, if this trend continues, then “Russia will not be preserved in its current borders, and the disintegration of Russia will occur.” Those who call themselves regionalists and those who oppose them both see this as a likely prospect, “but there is one problem,” Yakovenko continues.

            It is this: “neither the one nor the other currently has in practice the slightest influence on the processes which are taking place in Russia. Neither the one nor the other will be able in any manner to direct these processes into let us say a civilized direction. In fact, they won’t be able to influence these processes at all.”

            No one in Russia is waiting for either group, just as no one after the Russian revolution and civil war  was waiting for the return of the White Emigration. And that means above all that “unfortunately, this process will take place without the participation of those who call themselves liberals, democrats and so on.”

            As a result, the disintegration of the Russian Federation is far less likely to lead to the democratization of the country than many hope, although its continued existence as a single whole is not likely to lead to that either, Yakovenko suggests.

Forum of Free Peoples of Post-Russia Urged to Create Permanent Executive Body Like Free Russia Forum Has

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 1 – Bashkir activist Ruslan Gabbasov urged the Fifth Forum of the Free Peoples of Russia at its meeting in the European Parliament to create a permanent executive body to act on behalf of the movements between sessions, much like the Russian liberals have done with the Free Russia Forum.

            Such an institution, he argued, will not only contribute to the development of the various republic and regional movements but allow the Forum itself to cooperate both with the Free Russia Forum and with other bodies such as the European Parliament and governments outside of the Russian Federation (

            The declaration participants issued at the end of the session did not address this issue but instead called for the decolonization and denuclearization of Russia and the maximum possible demilitarization of Russia and the future independent states which are set to emerge on the territory now occupied by the Russian Federation.

            During the meeting which was hosted by two deputies of the European Parliament, participants, both in person and via the Internet, reprised their arguments on behalf of their own peoples, welcomed the support Ukraine has given them and pledged to support Ukraine in turn, and called on the international community to assist them.

            (For surveys of their statements, see,, and

            The January 31 session was not without problems. On the one hand, the representatives of some nations and regions were angry that they were given far less time than others. And on the other, Tatar activist Rafis Kashapov was deported by the Belgian authorities before he could speak (

            But what may have been the most important intervention at this meeting came not from one of the regional or national participants but from Anna Fotyga, one of the EuroParliament deputies who hosted the session. She said that the first duty of the world and the activists from Russia was to achieve the defeat of the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

            Only after that is achieved by joint efforts, she said, could the national and regionalist movements hope to achieve their ends through their own individual actions. Such a prioritization is unlikely to be what the participants of the Fifth Forum hoped for because it subordinates their cause to the Ukrainian one and makes any moves from abroad less likely in the near future. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Had Stalin Lived Long Enough to Carry Out His Plans for a Cultural Revolution and Renewal of Cadres, 1991 Would Not have Happened, Chichkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 1 – There is no period in Russian history which is murkier and about which less is known for certain than the last years and especially the last weeks and months of the rule of Joseph Stalin. As a result, Russians continue to revisit them out of a belief that what happened or didn’t happen then determined the future course of the country.

            The latest to do so is Aleksey Chichkin, a Moscow historian who has written four books about Stalin and Stalinism. And in a new essay, he argues that Stalin was planning to conduct a Maoist-style cultural revolution to purge the country’s leaders and bring to power a younger generation (

            In the view of some historians with which Chichkin clearly agrees, “before his sudden end, Stalin decided to radically renew all levels of the party-state leadership since the old leader cadres had already lost their devotion to socialism and therefore the restoration of capitalism and the disintegration of the USSR.

            The historian traces what happened in 1951 through early 1953 and points out that some in the Chinese communist party leadership including Mao and a few in the CPSU who were influenced by Mao reached the conclusion that renewal of cadres was required to save the two systems (

             History suggests, Chichkin says, that Stalin and Mao were right and their opponents were wrong. After all, the CPSU and the USSR are no more while the CPC and the Peoples Republic of China continue to function.

Russians are Tired of Talk about the Past, Makarkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 1 – A VTsIOM poll about the possibility that Volgograd might be renamed Stalingrad not only shows the Russians are opposed to that by more than two to one but also that they are tired of leaders talking only about the past, Aleksey Makarkin says. People live in the present and want to know about the future. For them, the past is “not a priority.”

            According to the Moscow commentator, “in principle people don’t want cities and streets renamed” in the first instance because of the expense involved. That is the “decisive” objection not only in this case but in many others. And the longer they’ve lived with one name, the less reason they see for changing it (

            He says that the case of Volgograd-Stalingrad also highlights the nature of “present-day Russian Stalinism.” That trend is not about Stalin as a personality but “bears a more complex character and includes within itself a powerful anti-elite component,” something “not connected with the concept of Stalin as a figure from the past.”

            And the VTsIOM survey proves that: Those Russians who favor renaming Volgograd Stalingrad justified their views by mentioning Stalin personally. Only three percent did that. Far more talked about the name being part of our history (14 percent) or about the need to remember the heroism of the people during the Great Fatherland War (12 percent).

There are No Ghettos in Russia, Moscow Says; but Duma Now Admits There are Ethnic Enclaves – and Pledges to Fight Them

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 2 – Like their Soviet predecessors but with less justice, Russian officials and following them Russian scholars have long insisted that there are no ghettoes in the cities of the Russian Federation even though the influx of migrants from Central Asia, the Caucasus and parts of the Russian Federation has such denials unsustainable.

            Some Russian writers have used the euphemism, “ethnic enclaves,” instead ( But even that has remained controversial. (On these debates, see,, and

            Yesterday, at a meeting of the Duma Committee on Nationality Affairs, deputy Anastasiya Udaltsova spoke about “ethnic enclaves” and the need to ensure that they don’t prevent the spread of the Russian language and Russian values  to immigrant communities (

            Her words appear to lend legitimacy to this latest case of Russian newspeak and also to show exactly why the powers that be in Moscow are sufficiently worried about the emergence of what almost everyone else would call ghettoes to talk about them under this term in the highest legislative body. 


Moscow Expert Urges Tashkent to Create Special Representative for Karakalpakstan in Uzbek Government

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 1 – Andrey Grozin, a specialist on Central Asia at the Moscow Institute for CIS Countries, says Tashkent should appoint a special representative for Karakalpakstan in the Uzbekistan government with the rank of deputy prime minister. Otherwise, he warns, a repetition of protests there last summer could be far bloodier.

            Grozin made his proposal after an Uzbek court sentenced the leaders of the Karakalpakstan protests to lengthy terms while letting off those who followed them with only minimal sentences or none at all (

            That is a sensible stopgap measure to deal with protests after they occur, the Moscow expert says; but if Tashkent or any other Central Asian government is to avoid protests when it seeks to modernize, it needs more effective coordination between the capital and the regions and a deputy prime minister is the appropriate level.

            A certain amount of turbulence is to be expected with any reforms even those which might appear distant from politics, Grozin continues; but if a government wants to carry out massive reforms as the current leadership in Tashkent does, it has to expect serious problems. Indeed, the danger of such outbursts of public anger is very great.

            It must approach all reforms cautiously because this is so; and one of the best ways to have both reform and stability is to create institutional arrangements so that the objections of regions are taken into account early rather than only after protests. Otherwise, Grozin warns, the next wave of demonstrations could end with far more bloodshed.

China Doesn’t Want to Occupy Russian Far East and Might Even Help Moscow to Hold It, Nemets Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 1 – For decades, some Russians have lived in fear that China wants to occupy the Russian Far East, a fear the Kremlin has played upon especially in recent years to justify the recentralization of the country and the imposition of various repressive measures. But that fear is without foundation, Aleksandr Nemets says.

            The US-based Russian analyst says that not only does China not want to occupy the Russian Far East but might be quite prepared to help Moscow retain control of it if there were to be uprisings or secessionist movements that threatened the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation (

            The reason for that is quite simple, Nemets says. China is getting everything it wants out of Russia’s Siberia and the Far East without having to absorb any social welfare costs or even paying for the infrastructure it needs to extract resources out of Russia or send its own products to Russia or Europe.

            Instead, he continues, over the last decade, Moscow has paid for all the infrastructure on the Russian side of the border China needs. Were Moscow to disappear as a factor in the region, then China would have to pick up the pieces and pay for any rail or port developments it may need.

            Consequently, Beijing is far better off with a weakened Russia prepared to pay for infrastructure China needs than annexing Siberia and the Russian Far East and being forced to pay for that itself, something that would add to its costs without increasing the returns it is now getting from using this route.