Saturday, December 9, 2023

‘Final Collapse of USSR’ Taking Place Now, Kucher Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 4 – With Armenia’s moves to break with Moscow and Russian-led organizations of former Soviet republics, Stanislav Kucher says, “we are witnessing the final collapse of the USSR in the form of the departure of its ‘fragments’ from the orbit of the Russian Federation.”

            Some of these countries are “extremely hostile” while “some are restrained” in expressing their feelings, the journalist says; “but it is obvious that their historical, cultural and mental paths have completely diverged from Rusia’s and that they have chosen a path best described as ‘from’” (

            The three Baltic countries, Ukraine, Moldova and the three former republics in the Caucasus are in the hostile camp, while the countries of Central Asia are restrained in their declarations but increasingly take positions that puts them at odds with the Russia of Vladimir Putin, Kucher says.

            “This means that Moscow can’t expect to get any support on military matters.” Indeed, at the present time, Russia has only one ally in the post-Soviet space: Belarus. The rest will either fence themselves off and arm themselves – or smile sweetly and then go ahead and arm themselves as well.”

            According to the journalist, “never before” has the Commonwealth of Independent States been so meaningless and divided.

When Moscow Runs Out of Carrots, Duma Suggests It Can Use that Term for Pauses Between Sticks, Russians Say

Paul Goble

                Staunton, Dec. 4 – Moscow has always used a combination of carrots and sticks to force Russians to do what it wants them to do, but a problem has arisen: what can the regime do if it doesn’t have any more carrots? The Duma has come up with a solution:  pauses between blows with the sticks will henceforth be counted as carrots.

                This is one of the anecdotes in the latest collection offered by Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova ( Among the best of the rest are the following:

     ·       The police are raiding Moscow’s gay clubs but they won’t raid the Duma because there aren’t any enemy gays there, only “native faggots.”

·       The Dozhd television channel has been labelled a foreign agent for the second time, sort of like getting a second hero of Russia award.

·       Moscow has labelled LGBTs an extremist movement but refuses to do the same regarding the Taliban and Hamas, despite the fact that the latter two in contrast to the former cut off the heads of their opponents.

·       Beginning next year, Russians will be examined at work to find out whether their reproductive organs are working properly. Those whose organs are in good shape but who don’t have children will be inseminated.

·       Moscow editors complained when a journalist wrote that “half of all officials are thieves.” He parried their objections by replacing those words with these: “half of all officials are not thieves.”

·       Those women taking part in protests demanding the return of their men from the fighting in Ukraine clearly miss all those human rights defenders who have been labelled foreign agents, imprisoned or forced to emigrate.

·       Putin’s daughter now has more money than any of Gazprom’s “daughter” companies.

St. Petersburg has Long History as ‘Cradle of Regionalism,’ Shtepa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 3 – Many observers dismiss Ingrian regionalism because it includes St. Petersburg within its definition of a future state. Such people are certain that the former imperial center and still northern capital could not possibly be involved with a regionalist effort. But in fact, Vadim Shtepa points out, St. Petersburg has a long history as “a cradle of regionalism.”

            The editor of the Tallinn-based regionalist portal, Region.Expert, says that for most people, Petersburg is either “a symbol and citadel of empire” or “a cradle of revolution” but in no way a place where regionalist ideas could emerge and flourish.  But in fact, it has played a key role in regionalist and nationalist movements (

            In the 19th and 20th centuries, the northern capital was where key parts of the national movements in the Baltic countries, Poland, and Belarus emerged; and perhaps most important, it was where the two founders of Siberian regionalism, Grigory Potanin and Nikolay Yadrintsev, first elaborated their ideas.

            Consequently, if Ingrian regionalist ideas are now spring in the same place, this may be paradoxical; but it should not be any surprise: their emergence now is part of a longer tradition that all too often is not recognized even by residents of the city itself.

Many Russians Still Believe Mythical ‘Dulles Plan’ Exists and Guides Western Policy on Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 3 – Russians continue to believe in a mythical “Dulles Plan” that supposedly has guided Western policy toward Russia since the 1950s and even see repeated documentation that it is nothing but a fake as evidence that it is in fact true, journalist Sergey Tashevsky says.

            In that, he continues, the fate of “the Dulles Plan” resembles that of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other hoaxes, many of them springing from works of fiction that have taken on a life of their own and that no amount of unmasking seems to be able to do anything about (

            Instead, those who have accepted these myths as true see such revelations about the falsehood of what they believe as evidence that the objects of their faith are true and even mine statements by officials who likely don’t believe in such “plans” for evidence that they really do and are only seeking to keep the truth from the population.

            Tashevsky provides a useful history of how “the Dulles Plan” first appeared in a 1970 Soviet novel, then spread into some of the nationalist thick journals at the end of Soviet times, and finally became the subject of widespread relief after the Soviet Union collapsed, an apparent confirmation that the Americans, using the Dulles Plan, had achieved their goals.

            Since that time, the journalist says, various experts have recounted this history and shown the whole notion to be a fraud. But “the plan” still has its believers. And Tashevsky suggests that he can imagine a scene in a new film in which a Russian agent like Stirlitz “knows that Dulles had not plan, but nonetheless Moscow demanded details …”

Dumpster Diving Spreads to Higher Income Groups in Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 3 – Searching through trash cans for food or other useful items has long been a strategy Russia’s poor have used to survive (  and

            But now, the Takiye Dela portal says, better off Russians are also looking through the trash, a phenomenon known in the West as “dumpster diving” to find items that others have thrown away and that they can use without having to come up with the money for them (

            On the one hand, this trend really does reflect the greater economic difficulties that many Russians now must contend with. But on the other, it often involves a desire to find furniture or clothes that allow better off people to acquire the kinds of things they need for outfitting themselves or their apartments in a retro style.

Central Asians, Recognizing Water-Sharing Arrangements Alone aren’t Enough, Working to Reduce Water Losses Close to Home

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 3 – Since 1991, most efforts to address water shortages in Central Asia have focused on finding a way to ensure that the upstream water-surplus countries, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, release enough water for the downstream water-short ones, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

            But now the water shortage is so great and intensifying with each year, the governments in the region are going beyond that and devoting more attention to improving the use of water within their own borders and preventing the loss of what water they do receive by taking steps to its loss by filtration.

            In this, they have been supported by the international community and its banking system which is providing much of the money to install concrete channels for the water to flow and better irrigation systems so that what water won’t be lost in the course of delivery (

            Uzbekistan is taking the lead. President Shavkat Miziyoyev has announced that Tashkent plans to lay concrete in four times as many kilometers of canals in 2024 as it has this year, with some 2500 kilometers of canals being fully concretized by 2025. That will significantly reduce the amount of water now lost by filtration ( and

            His government has also announced a plan to provide low-cost loans to agriculturalists and industries that want to introduce water-saving technologies.

Moscow’s Failure to Keep Its Earlier Promises on Federalism Means Few Ready to Rely on Any Promises It Makes Now

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 3 – As the Russian Federation acquired independence in 1991, Moscow made sweeping promises to respect the rights of the republics and regions within its borders and as a result separatist sentiment ebbed. But over the next 30 years, Moscow violated all of its promises in this regard; and as a result, few of them believe what Moscow says now.

            That is the conclusion that arises from a 5600-word commentary by journalist Darya Kucherenko for Memorial om how Moscow moved “From Federalism to a Unitary State” ( reposted at

            She details the way things have changed in each decade since 1991. In the 1990s, republics and regions were freer than they had been in Soviet times and were not afraid to challenge Moscow even on issues like the war in Chechnya, although most saw what Moscow did there as a sign that it would come down hard on any show of independence by them.

            In the first decade of this century, Kucherenko writes, the Kremlin under Vladimir Putin worked to reverse all of the progress of the 1990s, banning regional leaders from the Federation Council, eliminating the direct elections of governors, reducing the economic freedoms of the federal subjects, and imposing a common educational system on all of them.

            In parallel with these institutional changes, she continues, Moscow promoted xenophobia and allowed an ultra-right Russian nationalist movement to emerge, thus setting the stage for an even broader attack on the rights of the republics and even the regions. And in the second decade of this century, Moscow eliminated direct elections of governors, ended obligatory study of non-Russian languages, and inserted more central officials into republics and regions.

            Not surprisingly, by the third decade of this century, the 2020s, Moscow declared the existence of a Russian world in which there was no place for regional and republic differences. The center promoted Russian identity and attacked republican and regional ones, especially if this involved calls for decentralization or independence.

            Activists in the republics and regions have been radicalized by this trend. “If earlier they supported moderate views and spoke out in favor of federalism, now, many of them openly call for separation from Russia.” And they are receiving support from the OSCE and other international structures.

            “The peoples have awoken,” she quotes Bashkir activist Ruslan Gabbasov as saying. “They see a chance to get out from under the empire. Today, all liberal say that the regions must have more authority.  Therefore, I am certain that when the Putin regime collapses, even if we remain within the Russian Federation, we would receive powers no less than those of the 1990s.”

            But that is no longer enough, he says. “Over the course of 30 years, we have seen that what the center may give us, they will very easily take back.” We must act so that Moscow won’t have that opportunity ever again.