Staunton, June 12 – By dismissing the 1920 Tartu Treaty between the RSFSR and the Republic of Estonia as being of only historical interest, Moscow underscores its view that the Russian Federation of today is the successor to the USSR rather than to the RSFSR, according to Vadim Shtepa.
In Tallinn’s Postimees, the editor of the Region.Expert portal says that he bases that conclusion on Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Mariya Zakharova’s statement that any reference to the Tartu treaty is “a provocation” rather than being part of Russia’s legal record (arvamus.postimees.ee/6702498/vadim-stepa-kas-venemaa-on-olemas; in Russian at region.expert/russr/).
This suggests, Shtepa argues, that “the current Russian authorities do not recognize their historical predecessors” and that “present-day Russia considers itself the heir not of the RSFSR but of the USSR which arose only in 1922 and later included in itself both the RSFSR and all the other ‘union republics’ that the Bolsheviks initially promised the right of self-determination.”
Zakharova said specifically that “the Tartu Treaty long ago belongs to history. Its effect like that of other international agreements which Estonia had including with Soviet Russia in the period of 1920 to 1940 ceased on August 6, 1940 with the inclusion of Estonia into the USSR. For us, this subject is forever closed” (rbc.ru/politics/15/05/2019/5cdc404e9a7947298ac8c566).
“With these words,” Shtepa continues, Zakharova “in fact recognized that [the Tartu Treaty] had been replaced by another, the sadly well-known Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” which made the inclusion of Estonia into the USSR possible. “For Zakharova, this pact continues to remain in effect.”
“Even the USSR in the era of Perestroika in 1989 recognized the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols as ‘legally baseless and without effect from the moment of their being signed,’” the Russian regionalist says. “But the present, as it were ‘post-Soviet’ Russia is again making references to this pact!”
That shows that the current Kremlin regime “considers itself to be the legal successor namely of the Stalinist USSR and that in turn means that it does not see itself “as one of he post-Soviet countries but as a ‘reduced USSR.’ Such an imperial mentality, dangerous for the country’s neighbors, is actively being promoted by its propaganda.”
By so doing, however, Moscow leaves itself in a paradoxical situation. “In this case, the Russian Federation as a state denies itself, as politically it appeared on June 12, 1990 when the RSFSR proclaimed its sovereignty and declared that its laws were more important than those of the union.”
“The Kremlin’s official ideology today is built on a combination of the ults of two historical empires, the tsarist and the Soviet,” Shtepa continues; and that has consequences for how one should evaluate the current “Russian Federation.” It did not become a democratic federation and so may be called “a failed state.”
“No contemporary development in an empire can happen,” he suggests. All that it can do is try to seize neighboring territories in the hope of restoring its past “’imperial greatness’” – and do with to the accompaniment of “loud anti-Western propaganda which recalls the position of late Stalinism.”
According to Shtepa, “a repressive and aggressive empire does not have any chances for survival. This is already being demonstrated by Russian citizens themselves in various regions who have come out against the Kremlin’s colonial policies” be they in Arkhangelsk and the Komi Republic or closer by in the Pechora district of Pskov Oblast.
The last is especially interesting because that district was assigned to Estonia by the 1920 Tartu Treaty that Moscow doesn’t want to view as part of Russia’s historical and legal record. Zakharova’s words strongly suggest that that the Putin regime is “very much concerned” that Pskov residents will begin to call for “the restoration of historical borders.”
They will certainly do so, Shtepa says, “when the empire falls apart the next time.”