Monday, March 20, 2017

With Crimean Anschluss, Putin Blocked Maidan from Spreading to Russia, Shiropayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 20 – Even though Vladimir Putin did not take part in the public commemorations of the third anniversary of his annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, there is no question that his press secretary is right that the day he took that step remains for the Kremlin leader “a special day,” Aleksey Shiropayev says.

            “Imagine for a minute that Putin had not annexed Crimea,” the Russian commentator says. “In that case the victory of the Maidan could have ‘infected’ Russia as well for the spirit of freedom is infectious especially when the countries involved are so close.” Putin had to find “an antidote”– and seizing Crimea was it (

            And the Kremlin leader “perfectly well understood that the lure of freedom and dignity could be put down in Russian consciousness only by another lure – an imperial lure of greatness, a lure of chauvinist patriotism and slavish ecstasy of unity with the powers that be,” Shiropayev continues.

            This “antidote to freedom and democracy,” one that generated “an abrupt degradation of society and all political life” in the Russian Federation is what “’Crimea is Ours’” means.  And thus “Crimea became Putin’s anti-Maidan.” 

            Such an analysis is intriguing for at least two reasons. On the one hand, it lends weight to reports that Putin personally made all the decisions about Crimea (, and on the other, it suggests that Putin’s aggression may at least initially have been driven by domestic considerations rather than the possibility of retaking the empire.

            In either of those cases, backing away from Crimea or at least not seeing it as a precedent for moves elsewhere might come easier for a post-Putin Russia, although given his personal involvement in this way with Crimea, it probably precludes any movement on that issue as long as he is in office or in power.

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