Monday, August 26, 2013

Window on Eurasia: An Independent Siberia Must be a Confederation, Kulekhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 26 – As it moves toward independence, Siberia should not seek a centralized state which could reproduce on its territory all the problems of  “the Muscovite-imperial ‘vertical’” but rather seek to form a Siberian Confederation, one with strictly limited central power, according to a leading Siberian nationalist.

            Reacting to an article entitled “Siberia is leaving Russia” by Maria Mitrenina, the editor of the portal, Kulekhov says that he is not as the editor suggested “a support of ‘a single Siberia’ or of the idea that “all the lands of Siberia” should be combined into a single centralized state (

            Kulekhov who has called for Siberia to cease being Russia’s “colony” says that forming such a centralized state in the lands east of the Urals would have the effect of “reanimating on [that enormous] territory the very Muscovite-imperial ‘vertical’” with all its problems that Siberians want to avoid.

            He says that he “does not see a basis for Yakutsk to subordinate itself to Novosbirsk or Tomsk to Irkutsk.  Each land of Siberia and each Siberian capital has its strong points, its basis for legitimate pride, its ideas about life, and its foreign policy preferences,” and these must not be ignored through subordination as those of Siberia now are by Moscow’s approach.

            Consequently, Kulekhov continues, “a Siberian Confederation is preferable,” a state which would “limit itself to joint military defense and some form of customs union” but which would take full account of the growing differences among its parts on all other subjects and fully respect them.

            “Only such a variety of potentials gives energy” to the project, he argues.  Trying to make everyone the same and fit the same pattern “leads to entropy, that is, it contradicts the very meaning of human existence. Therefore,” Kulekhov says, he “is for a Diverse Siberia. In our diversity is our strength.”

            With regard to Inozemtsev’s argument, the Siberian editor says that the Moscow writer is wrong to assume that the center can come up with any investment program that will keep Siberia part of a Russian Federation, but she nonetheless says that his article is important because it show that “the importance of Siberia for Russia is much higher than that of Russia for Siberia.”

            That in turn means, she continues, that “Siberia in principle is ready for economic independence.”

            In speaking about Kulekhov, she focuses on his remarks concerning the way in which “Siberia without Russia” should be organized and expresses her doubts that all of Siberia’s regions will agree to join a single state, given their past experiences. Instead, the editor says, while the problems of these regions are similar, they “still don’t create conditions for unity.”

            Nonetheless, Mitrenina concludes, “the chances that in the next decade, Siberians will again wake up in a new state are great,” and she suggests that as history has demonstrated dealing with Moscow in that event will be “simpler” for Siberians than dealing with “enormous Siberia” itself has proved.

            Neither writer acknowledges that the very diversity they point to has been a major obstacle to the achievement of their goals because it has allowed Moscow to play “divide and rule” politics for more than a century.  But the fact that debate about Siberia’s future are moving beyond slogans underscores the growing strength of that land’s supporters.

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