Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Moscow has Lost Ukraine, Gromov Advisor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 14 – Despite Vladimir Putin’s success in getting Kyiv not to sign a European Union association agreement and constant Russian media claims that the Euro-Maidan is about to collapse, Ivan Nikashin says, “the Kremlin has lost Ukraine” this time around in because of problems having to do with the still-Soviet nature of the Russian Federation.

            Nikashin, a political activist who worked for many years in Kyiv and Crimea for former Moscow Oblast Governor Boris Gromov, says that Russia has gotten seriously involved in Ukrainian affairs much too late and that even after the warning events of 2004, “no one was seriously involved with Ukraine” at a conceptual and planning level (nr2.ru/kiev/479233.html).

            Ten years have passed since the Orange Revolution, he continues in a statement to Novy Region 2 yesterday, and again “Kyiv is full of people,” and Poles and Germans are coming and meeting with those in the Maidan.

            Where is the vaunted “’Russian Party,’” about which the Moscow media talk so much, in all this?  It isn’t anywhere, because in fact, in Ukraine and even in the Russian Federation, “there is no Russian party.”  There are “professional pro-Russian grant eaters,” but they are impotent” and cannot manage the organization of meetings in Sebastopol.

            Patriarch Kirill before going his Ukrainian trip raised the issue of a common “’Russian world,’” but it turned out that “there were problems with its export.”  Today, Nikashin says, “’the Russian world’ [like some goods in the Soviet-era Beryoshka shops] is a product exclusively for foreign consumption.” 

            The “Russian world” on offer to Ukrainians and others, he continues, is “not caviar and matryoshka dolls but rather decayed sovietism” with only this difference: instead of the hammer and sickle, there is now “a two-headed eagle, but “the essence remains unchanged: Leninist and multi-national.”

             What kind of “Russian” world can “the most numerous people in the world without a state” offer Ukrainians? Nikashin asks rhetorically. None that they would want. Indeed, for Ukrainians, the only basis of unity with the peoples in the Russian Federation they could find is “antipathy to the Muscovites”

            “Forgive me,” he continues, “but why should something that’s good for a Tajik be good for a Ukrainian? What do [all of these peoples] have – brotherhood or a marriage contract? Love or prostitution?”

            Of course, it is true, Nikashin says, that “the Euromaidan isn’t pretty.” Some of its leaders elicit nothing “except laughter.”  But – and this is the important thing – there are very many good people taking or sympathizing [to the Maidan], several of whom [he adds he] know personally.
            Despite what Moscow media outlets say, “they want a normal life and European values for them are values” totally opposed to those on offer from their own government or from Moscow. And that shows “a characteristic distinction between Russians and Ukrainians.” The latter “have the chance to decide who will be in the political field and who will  not.”

            Nikashin says he doesn’t like Ukrainian nationalists like Tyagnybok, but he does like the fact that ‘they speak and have their part in the show. In Russia, on the other hand, the nationalists are not allowed into the parliament because the role of defender of the interests of the indigenous population is assigned to [that] clown Zhirinovsky.”

                “There will not be any ‘Russian world’ without a nationalist party first in the duma and then in the Rada.” More than that, Nikashin continues, “anomic Russian society will not be able to be a strong nucleus even for other unions like the Customs Union, which will fall apart” as did the Soviet system at the first serious democratic challenge.

            The current demonstrations in the Maidan may ebb, “but this clearly is not the end of history” given that “Russia has not learned a lesson” from its own past and from Ukraine’s, preferring instead to use carrots and sticks to try to keep people within its old framework. Until that changes, Ukraine won’t be part of a Russian world because the Russian world won’t exist.

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