Saturday, August 13, 2022

Kremlin is Losing Not Benefiting from Emigration, Eidman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 10 – Some Russian commentators have suggested Vladimir Putin has benefited by allowing those Russians unhappy with his policies to leave the country rather than remain at home and protest. But there is little to suggest protests would have occurred had emigration not happened; and the real costs of the emigration are high, Igor Eidman says.

            People are afraid because of the repressive actions of the regime, the sociologist-commentator says, and “the majority of potential emigres aren’t prepared” to take the risks engaging in protests entails. And so they aren’t making a choice “between emigration and heroic resistance” (

            Instead, they are going abroad rather than continuing to live lives of quiet desperation inside the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, the regime is suffering from real losses in taxes, potential draftees, and skilled workers needed for the recovery and development of the Russian Federation.

            Eidman does not address what this balance in costs and benefits may mean in terms of Moscow’s continuing willingness to allow most Russians who want to leave the opportunity to do so. But his argument is likely to convince at least some in the Putin regime that the time has come to impose strict limits on emigration.

            That some officials may already be drawing that conclusion is suggested by others. (On that possibility, see in particular,

Focus of Political Aspirations of Russians Shifting from Federal Center to Regions and Localities, Buyanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – Reflecting a worldwide trend, Dmitry Buyanov says, “the civic-political aspirations of Russians are shifting from the federal level to the regional one,” a trend that is especially visible among young people.” But given the increasing centralization of Russian political life, regional and civic leaders have failed to respond.

            As a result, the Regnum political commentator says, studies show that there is a growing gap between regional and urban leaders, on the one hand, and the population, on the other, something that means many problems are never addressed and the population, while not yet prepared to protest is increasingly sullenly silent (

            That may make life easier for officials now; but it does not bode well for the future, he says a series of new sociological studies suggest, because in the event of a crisis, those nominally in charge or regions and cities may not have the links they need to control the situation. Instead, they may find themselves blindsided by popular anger and uncertain how to respond.

            At present, Buyanov concludes, “local problems aren’t being solved and often aren’t addressed at all, teams of leaders aren’t being formed, and a significant human resource is being wasted or even comes to form opposition groupings.” Addressing this “should become a strategic task for the state” because it will require a fundamental change in elite attitudes.

Russian Obsession with Decline of Europe Keeps Elite Together and Prevents It from Dealing with Their Own Country’s Problems, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – An exaggerated focus on the decline of Europe is “one of the creeds of the Russian people,” Vladimir Pastukhov, which arises from their originally Orthodox worldview but which infects even militant atheists and ardent opponents of the Russian autocracy including many who go into emigration to escape that system.

            For nearly all of them, focusing on the death of the West is “the simplest and therefore most desirable way to address Russia’s own existential problems,” the London-based Russian analyst says. After all, “why struggle or seek to overcome problems if the West is going to perish on its own and the problems will be solved by themselves?”

            If one believes that, and many Russians do, then “the only correct survival strategy is to wait until the corpse of your enemy is carried past,” Pastukhov says. But unfortunately for Russia, predictions in Russia of the impending death of the West are exaggerated and have dire consequences (

            That is because “consciously or subconsciously, a significant portion of the elite believes this,” including not just the enthusiastic backers of the Kremlin’s “course toward self-isolation” but also those who oppose this self-isolation. Indeed, the belief that the West is dying has the effect of holding the two groups together.

            It is of course the case that the West is in trouble. There is a crisis of capitalism, a crisis of democracy and a crisis of culture, Pastukhov continues, all of which taken together help fuel Russian attitudes. “But still, rumors about the death of the West seem somewhat exaggerated” at least for the time being.

            Moreover, even if the West is fated to die, “its agony will take an entire era if not more than one.” Its death will “not mean any automatic flourishing of the Russian world.” Instead, just the reverse. Moreover, those parts of the world that will flourish are likely to be those who mobilize best to survive – and in that regard, the West is better positioned than Russia.


Many Ethnic Russians in Republics Share the Aspirations of Titular Nationalities, Gabbasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – When the Baltic countries pursued the recovery of their independence before achieving it in 1991, the ethnic Russians living in them were divided, with some supporting the USSR and others openly backing the aspirations of the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.

            Something similar is happening in the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation now, Ruslan Gabbasov, the √©migr√© leader of the Bashkir National Political Center, says, noting that “the ethnic Russian residents of the Republic of Bashkortostan are not like the Russians who live in Tambov, Moscow or Rostov-on-Don” (

            The Russians in his homeland – he now lives in Lithuania – greet Bashkirs and Tatars there by saying Salam Aleykum, they love to ride horse, they drink kumys and share an interest in the flute music Bashkirs love. They are truly “Bashkir Russians” who consider Bashkortostan their motherland.”

            To be sure, Gabbasov says, there are some imperialists among the ethnic Russians of Bashkortostan; but if one is honest, there are such people among Bashkirs, Tatars, Udmurts and others as well.

            “But those Russians who recognize the right of the Bashkir people to self-determination, who remember that the Bashkirs have other land and are prepared to defend it to the death, are one of the components of the Bashkir political nation, who will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Bashkirs and other nations to defend its independence.”

            They will do so, Gabbasov says, “because they know that no one intends to oppress Russians whatever the chauvinists say. Russians will have the full right to the study of their own language, the practice of their own religion and the development of their own culture.” Indeed, Russians in Bashkortostan already have things better in this regard than do Russians in Ryazan.

            Russians who feel otherwise and want to live under Moscow will be able to do so by leaving the republic, a place where their own attitudes will make them feel uncomfortable.

Three Factors Driving Down Size of Russian Population, El Murid Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name El Murid, says that three factors are currently driving down the size of the Russian population: emigration and rising death rates, the first two, are the most obvious, but the third, the decision of Russians not to have children because of conditions in the country, may ultimately be the most consequential.

            Emigration, of course, is a natural response to the military violence and repression the Putin regime has inflicted on the country; and rising death rates reflect not just the aging of the population but the regime’s attack on Russia’s already rickety healthcare system, the blogger says (

            The decision of potential parents not to have children now or perhaps ever is a product of similar factors. When medical care is uncertain and repression is increasing, such people don’t really know what tomorrow will bring and so postpone or cancel plans for an investment as long-term as having a child.

            All three of these factors, El Murid continues, are the result of the Putin regime behaving in a textbook fashion. “Dying itself, it is poisoning the space surrounding it with its own decay and decomposition, killing all life around it because the regime itself is already a walking corpse.”

               Anyone familiar with films about zombies knows that such creatures don’t die easily but do try to drag down as many people around them as possible, “living and not yet born and those who will never be born,” exactly what the zombie regime in the Kremlin now is doing.

West Should Announce Its Intention to Develop a Marshall Plan for Russia if Russians Ultimately Replace Putinism with Democracy, Gallyamov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – As angry as the West is at Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine, its leaders are not yet prepared to call for his overthrow, Abbas Gallyamov says But for both short-term reasons and long, they should announce now plans for a Marshall Plan for Russia if the Putin regime is ultimately replaced with a democratic one.

            In the short-term, such an announcement will send a message to Russians that the West is on their side against Putin and thus lead more of them to protest what he is doing, the former Putin speechwriter says. And in the longer-term, it will give aid and even support to those coming after him to seek to promote democracy (

            This is suggested by the contrasting results of two policies discussed in the US for Germany at the end of World War II. The first, the Morgenthau Plan, which would have punished the Germans, helped the Nazi regime keep its domestic support and could have sparked the rise of a revisionist regime as the Versailles conditions did after World War I.

            It was rejected and instead the US adopted the Marshall Plan which sought to rebuild Germany along with the rest of Europe in order to promote democracy and stability on the continent. Like that plan, a similar one announced now would have advantages both in the short term and in the long.

            The short-term consequences are so obvious as to not require comment, but the longer-term ones on Russian politics may be even more consequential, Gallyamov says. Putin’s war in Ukraine and the isolation of Russia it has led to have divided the elite to the point that when he is weakened or departs from the scene, no one figure will have overwhelming support.

            And those who do not see their favorite will work to weaken whoever does succeed Putin. If these include those who would like Russia to move in a different direction than the one he has taken it – and that is likely given how much many in the elite have suffered from his policies -- they will be encouraged by the possibility of financial support from the West.

            Gallyamov insists that “the Russian political tradition sees nothing humiliating in accepting foreign aid,” unless of course it comes with too many strings attached. And any assertion of the contrary, he concludes, is “just another attempt to ‘rewrite history,’” as the Putinists might say.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Moscow's Repressive Policies Behind Decline in Russian Nationalist Violence over Last Decade, Verkhovsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – Violent actions by Russian nationalist groups rose between the mid-1990s given the high level of violence in society as a whole and the popularity of neo-Nazi ideology, and then this number declined “mainly due to successful repressive policies” by the Russian government, Aleksandr Verkhovsky says.

            No other factor played a significant role either in the rise of fall of ideologically motivated violence by Russian nationalist groups, the head of the SOVA Center which monitors extremist groups and government policies in response to them says ( and

            A major reason that this shift could happen so quickly and so dramatically, Verkhovsky says, is that most Russian nationalists given to violence are younger than 25 and constantly being renewed. “As a result, the young and radical part of the movement more rapidly reacts to various factors than does the more moderate and older one.”

            Thus, “the use of force in Russian nationalism was transformed quite quickly,” with it being a central driving force before 2007 and an ever more marginal one after that time. Before that date, Russian nationalists often engaged in violence; after that, they rarely did, with court cases about violent crimes in the first period and extremism in the second.

            And this decline in the level of violence as a result of the government’s repressive approach also helps to explain why the flow of ultra-right Russian nationalists to fight against Ukraine in 2022 has been an order of magnitude smaller than was the case only eight years ago when many Russian nationalists went to fight in the Donbass.

            At present, the Russian government has put violent Russian nationalists back in the bottle by adopting a harsh line to any such action; but as Verkhovsky acknowledges, its success could change rapidly to failure precisely because of the replacement of one group of young nationalists by another who are less impressed by the widespread use of police power.