Saturday, May 4, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Russian Elite Has Come to Terms with Baltic Independence, Russian Opposition Figure Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 4 – The Russian elite has not “psychologically” accepted the independence of Ukraine, Belarus or Armenia, even though Moscow has diplomatic relations with all of these countries, a leading Russian opposition figure says, but it has come to terms, albeit grudgingly and uncomfortably, with the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

                Speaking in Lithuania this week, Leonid Gozman, the head of the Union of Right Forces, said that in Russia, “the independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia has not been recognized psychologically. It is recognized de jure, but it is not recognized in the consciousness of the Russian elite” (

                Members of the Russian elite “cannot agree with the idea that Ukraine is foreign territory or even more than Belarus is … But the independence of the Baltic states is recognize and accepted,” even if Russian leaders describe them as “’fascist regimes.’” In short, Gozman told a conference at the University of  Lithuania, “in their eyes, [the Baltics] are finally [and irreversibly] independent.”

            Consequently, while Russia may not “love” the Baltics and represents a problematic neighbor for them, the Russian opposition leader continues, “it does not represent a danger for them” and there is no chance that there will be any repetition of their “liberation” through “a repeat of [the earlier] heroic approach.”

            The other 11 countries around Russia’s periphery have to cope with a different reality, Gozman continued, but they may not face an immediate threat because Russians “are not prepared to pay for a genuine realization of [their] imperial ambitions.” Instead, they hope the empire will simply, “magically,” and “at no cost” to them “restore itself.”

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