Staunton, January 12 – Kaliningrad -- or Koenigsberg as it was historically called and is known to many of its residents -- because of its geographic situation as an exclave and the current economic and political situation “simply cries out for the need for separation from [Moscow], for independence and the setting up of a sovereign republic, Anton Chadsky says.
In a comment on Rufabula.com today, the journalist and activist who has been following developments there since 2011 and who last year moved to the exclave says that the current sad state of the oblast is a reflection of “the barbaric approach of the Muscovites to culture” and to the life of the people there (rufabula.com/author/anton-chadsky/273).
But despite what the center has done, he says, “Kaliningrad oblast has not lost its severe and upright as the walls of ancient churches its romantic nature. Despite the destruction and ineffective use of its territory, the region appears to be a place full of prospects for the construction of a new republic.”
It certainly has the economic basis for independence, including its tourism industry, machine-building factors, shipping facilities, fishing and agriculture, and amber. But it will only be able to develop them after it escapes from the Russian yoke of taxes, repression, and invasive and corrupt bureaucracy.
“The future republic,” Chadsky says, “must be developed jointly with businessmen, cultural and artistic figures from Europe and the world without any visa obstacles.” If so, it can be a territory “where the interests of the republic, Poland, Lithuania and Germany [can] coincide and move forward together.”
It must be demilitarized with “Russian bases gradually shipped from the oblast to other regions of Russia, the activist journalist argues, and it can become “an ideal place for the introduction of the mechanisms of electronic referenda and voting on all issues which are important for society.”
Obviously, he acknowledges, the path for the creation of a fully independent Koenigsberg faces many obstacles, not least of which is “Moscow’s lack of desire to lose its colony and the economic destruction (itself thanks to Moscow by the way) and the political degradation of society,” something that has left the region without the leaders or political culture it needs.
“But the region has a choice,” Chadsky says. It can either sit and wait on events or it can recognize what is necessary and “take responsibility for the fate of its land and its future.” At present, “while Russia has not weakened to the point where the oblast could simply calmly declare its independence,” people there must overcome the imperial legacy of the past.
They need to think about what they want and to call for a referendum on their future. If a referendum does not happen – which would be the case “if Russia simply yet again falls apart” – that would be “a negative scenario for Kaliningrad” because of the chaos that would arise and because “international trust in the future republic would not be as high as it could be.”
But first of all, the suppers of an independent Koenigsberg Republic need to deal with opponents within the population of the exclave. “At present,” he concedes, they form “an absolute majority,” not because they have considered the possibility of a republic and rejected it but because they do not have sufficient information to judge.
Such people, he says, operate on the basis of perverse notions about reality and “a logical argue alone will not convince them.” They will say “our grandfathers fought here and shed blood, who needs you in that Europe … Moscow will send tanks … we can’t earn our own way [and] Lithuania/Poland/Germany/the US/Mars/Chingiz Khan will immediately conquer us.”
Such views and such people now exist “across the entire post-Soviet space.” What is necessary, Chadsky says, is to face up to that and begin the “enormous” amount of work necessary to overcome that Soviet Russian legacy at least in Koenigsberg.