Sunday, October 7, 2018

Ingush Events Underscore that Russia Today is Only ‘Illusion of a Country,’ Gozman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 7 – A country, however diverse, is a country only to the extent that its people feel themselves to be “some kind of whole,” a status the Moscow media have been destroying by their constant focus on Ukraine and the US rather than on things like the pension dispute and now the conflict between Ingush, their leaders and Chechnya, Leonid Gozman says.

            Because the central television in Moscow is “not of this country,” the opposition Russian politician argues, “all those who give commands to television are not this country either,” a fact that has more profound consequences for the future than whatever happens next in Ingushetia or the North Caucasus (

            Right now in Magas, Gozman continues, there are people protesting because “they do not want to give up their land to their neighbors, who have just the same status as a subject of the Russian Federation as they do. And the police of Ingushetia … are supporting the people and praying with them” rather than enforcing the will of the republic government or Moscow.”

            The police are blocking the entrance of a column of Russian OMON forces and serving as a warning to Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov who is more than prepared to send troops into Ingushetia even to the point of provoking a war. Of course, Kadyrov is prepared, the politician says; “it isn’t for nothing that we have been arming him all these years.”

            “You call this a country?” Gozman asks rhetorically. But the situation is even worse: the Russian president did not interrupt his visit to India and fly to Magas. Can you imagine a US president who would be conducting talks somewhere when the governor of Louisiana threatened Texas with war?”

            And by the way, he continues, “how may hours would such a governor remain free if he declared that his own will has priority over the Constitution of the country?”

            In Chechnya and Ingushetia, the situation is minutes from the start of a war. “But on federal television channels, there is nothing about Magas, only about Poroshenko, Russophobia, and” everything but this most important story.

            Not only has there been no coverage except for a single reference on First Channel on October 5 but “there has not been any appeal by government leaders to the citizens of Russia and particularly to the two sides of the conflict. No one is calling for them not to raise arms against one another.”

            There hasn’t been a special session of the Federation Council; the Russian clergy haven’t expressed an opinion or prayed for peace on the territory of their own country; and the opposition if one can call it that has remained silent as well.  And the intelligentsia too has shown that for it there are other “more important” problems.

            “And all this is a signal to the people in Magas: Russia, part of which you are apparently spits on you by showing that for it you do not exist. They do not know you and do not want to know you. And this means that you can place your hopes only in yourselves and in your ability to hold a gun in your hands.”

            That is how, in the 21st century, “the sunset of the Third Rome” is taking place.

            “Like a majority of you, I was never in Magas. I don’t know the history of the Ingush more than in the most general way. I do not have the right to judge to whom the disputed lands should belong.” From everything one can observe, however, it certainly appears to be the case that the Ingush in the streets are in the right.

            But of one thing I am certain, Gozman concludes. “Those who are coming to the defense of their land and their dignity in Magas deserve our respect and our solidarity even if eventually the land on which they live, as a result of the wise policy of our leadership will be called not a subject of the Russian Federation but something else entirely.”

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