Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Moscow Promoting Ever More Military Programs for Ever Younger School-Age Groups

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 25 – In a sign that the Putin regime is preparing for the militarization of Russian society over the long haul, schools across the Russian Federation are introducing ever more military training programs for ever younger school-age groups, including kindergarteners, Milan Czerny reports.

            The journalist for The Insider surveys this trend which is all the more striking because in many countries governments and populations are focused on getting guns out of the schools rather than into them and offering programs to encourage young people to solve their problems without violence (

            The Russian government and especially the defense ministry have promoted this trend, Czerny says, providing weapons and personnel to train children in shooting and other military arts. But in at least some cases, the schools have sought to overfulfil the plan and introduced more expansive programs at an ever earlier age.

            Most Russian educators and psychologists see this development as both appropriate and safe, but some international experts question that, arguing that by normalizing violence, the Russian approach risks making violence more widespread in Russian society if children decide that using force to resolve all problems is appropriate.

            If that happens, these experts say, then the problems ahead for Russian society are dire indeed.

Moscow has Exploited Hostility to Ethnic Minorities It Promoted within Russia to Demonize Ukrainians, Berezhkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 24 – With the partial exception of the 1990s, Moscow has historically exploited the hostility of local ethnic majorities to local ethnic minorities to keep Russian society divided but most recently has exploited such attitudes to demonize Ukrainians and launch a war of aggression against them, Dmitry Berezhkov says.

            The activist from Kamchatka who now lives as a political exile in Norway says that discrimination against national minorities has always been part of the Russian government’s strategy domestically but now it has become an instrument of state policy in the case of Ukraine (

            In the 1990s, the state had other things to think about and did not exercise its traditional role in managing ethnic hatreds. Then in the first decade of this century, he says, Moscow either promoted or at least looked the other way as members of ethnic majorities attacked ethnic minorities as outsiders.

            The Russian government’s only concern at that time was that this kind of nationalism did not lead to political movements that might challenge the Putin regime. To that end, it punished severely nationalist leaders of all kinds but generally did little to stem the rising tide of attacks by members of one group on those of another.

            This use of administered nationalism, discrimination and hatred is “a very dangerous phenomenon,” Berezhkov says, because it means the state can redirect these hatreds almost at will, as long as it provides a new target. That is why the campaigns against LGBT people are so dangerous for non-Russians and why the war in Ukraine has served Kremlin interests so well.

            According to the exiled activist, the situation in this regard in Russia is “unique” because “the state totally controls the national question and takes part in the administration of discrimination, directing nationalist convictions wherever that serves its purposes.”

            A move toward democracy is a necessary but insufficient condition for addressing this problem, Berezhkov says. Many who favor democracy really don’t understand the plight of minorities and thus the advocates of a beautiful Russia in the future sometimes act as imperialists rather than democrats. That must change.

            However, if Russia does become a democracy, there is at least a chance that its minorities will be able to defend their rights and thus change the situation over time. That has been what has happened elsewhere; and it could be the basis for positive change in Russia as well, Berezhkov concludes.

Risks from Russia Falling Apart Far Less than Risks from It Remaining in One Piece, Ginzburg Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 27 – Now that some are predicting that the Russian Federation will fall apart, a veritable army of Moscow commentators and Western analysts are pointing to all the risks that such a development could entail ranging from chaos and violence on the territory of what is now the Russian Federation to a third world war.

            But what they are not doing is comparing those risks to the risks to the peoples of the region and the world if Russia does not fall apart. As a result, the impression has been created that there will only be problems if Russia falls apart and that there won’t be any if Russia remains in one piece.

            That is a clear mistake, as Prague-based Russian commentator Vitaly Ginzburg observes in a comment on a recent post by the Tallinn-based regionalist portal Region. Expert. He writes: “The risks of the disintegration of Russia undoubtedly exist, but they are an order lower than the risks of the preservation of its unity” (stress supplied) (

            Ginzburg’s point may seem a small one, but it is anything but for both those who believe and want the Russian Federation to fall apart along ethnic and regional lines and those who believe and want it to remain in one piece. Both groups have a responsibility to address both halves of this equation.

                        Up to now, those who want the Russian Federation to disintegrate or believe that it will even if they don’t want it have done the far better job because they are seeking a fundamental change, but they too need to do far more to point out the real dangers and risks that the continued survival of the Russian Federation would present.

            Those risks involve not only the kinds of threats domestic and foreign that the Russian Federation now presents but also additional risks that are likely to emerge as the Kremlin seeks to hold things together both by repression at home and aggression abroad. As the Putin period shows, those risks are not only real and great but almost certainly increasing.