Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Self-Proclaimed Donets Republic is ‘Russia without Putin,’ Roshchin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 21 – The Donetsk Peoples Republic is “a beautiful example for those who love to shout the slogan ‘Russia Without Putin’” because the situation there demonstrates, perhaps by the Kremlin’s design, what could happen in the Russian Federation as a whole if Putin were to be replaced, according to Aleksey Roshchin.

            In a “Nezavisimaya gazeta” blog post today, the Russian commentator says that not only are there calls there for nationalization but “the reach of the state is weakening [and] the militia is acting on its own, but this has not let a hundred flowers bloom.” Rather the reverse, he argues (

            “Chaos is spreading,” people with guns are roaming through the streets, “some are seizing administration buildings, ‘people’s mayors’ and ‘people’s chairmen’ are appearing, and of course, a multiplicity of wild people like bandits is raising its head,” all under the slogan, “’steal from those who have stolen.’”

In fact, Roshchin says, “there is a restraining factor” in Donetsk that wouldn’t be present in a Russia without Putin.  That is “the SINGLE really positive demand” that the authorities there have made – about language. “The ‘revolt’ has no other ideas,” and happily for them, he says, the Ukrainian authorities don’t seem to understand how easy it would be for them to undercut such an appeal.

“However in Russia, this would not be the case,” Roshchin says.  And that in turn highlights “the ideological weakness of the opposition” in Russia, an opposition that currently offers the population no clear path forward “except ‘Down with Putin.’” 

One need not agree with Roshchin regarding the Russian opposition or Putin’s rule, although there is perhaps some truth in what he says, to recognize that the Kremlin leader may have yet another reason to allow Donetsk and Luhansk to descend into chaos: to remind Russians what real chaos looks like and to suggest what might happen to them without him.

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