Thursday, July 31, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Hague YUKOS Decision Less About Money than Principle, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 31 – Many have been transfixed by the size of the 50 billion US dollar judgment by the international court in the Hague against Moscow in the YUKOS case, but the real threat to Russia lies not from that vast sum but rather in the principle that the international court has articulated, according to Vladimir Pastukhov.


             In a commentary published by “Novaya gazeta,” the St. Antony’s scholar argues that one needs to look beyond the number and recognize that even if it were only one dollar, “the historic significance of this decision would be no less and perhaps would be even greater” (


            The decision of the Hague court represents, he continues, “a doctrinal breakthrough,” one that reflects a triumph of the liberal legal doctrine that Moscow partially accepted two decades ago but has since moved away from, retreating toward the formalist principles on the basis of which the Soviet state.


            The liberal position holds that a law must be legal, that is, it must be part of a general quest for justice and that its application is possible only if this broader context is taken into consideration.  The formalist position holds that the text of any law must be enforced regardless of this context.


            That somewhat abstract difference, Pastukhov continues, has enormous practical consequences.  The formalist position was the basis of Stalin’s Great Terror. Regardless of why charges were being brought or how a law was being used, if an individual was judged to have violated a particular law’s provisions, he was guilty.


            The liberal position, in contrast, argues that the political use of a law can be the basis for deciding that its provisions should not be applied in a particular case because that case would not be in that case “legal” but rather “political.” 


            Until the YUKOS decision, the Russian government has been successful in defending itself in cases where it is involved by insisting on the letter of the law and rejecting any consideration of the context in which it has been applied.  Now, the Hague court has rejected that position, something that opens up “a Pandora’s box” of problems for Russia, Pastukhov says.


            Moscow had defended itself against suits like the YUKOS one by arguing that the firm had not paid taxes and that any other issue was irrelevant. Even when it acknowledged that there were “numerous procedural violations,” the Russian government successfully returned to its point that the law had been violated because the taxes had not been paid.


             The Hague arbitration court in this case, however, “did not limit itself to a formal consideration of the facts but viewed them in a broad legal context and as a result came to opposite conclusions” to the ones it would have reached if it had continued to accept Moscow’s formalist approach.


            That makes the current decision “important not just in and of itself,” Pastukhov argues. Rather, it has “enormous importance as precedent” and changes the legal framework under which Europe will consider Russian legal practice and thus Russia as a whole. And that “will have consequences for Russia much more serious than the loss of 50 billion dollars.”


            At least “potentially,” Pastukhov says, “this is a much more rapid path to the organization of the complete isolation of Russia than even sectoral or other sanctions” because it means that in any case involving Russia, “issues of legality will be considered not formally but in terms of context and with an account of the legal correctness of the goals pursued by the sides.”


Window on Eurasia: After Ukraine, Moscow’s Closest Allies Refusing to Follow Kremlin Line

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 19 – The two countries Moscow views as its closest partners, Belarus and Kazakhstan, have refused to join its sanctions campaign against Moldova, another indication, the editors of “Nezavisimaya gazeta” say today, that as a result of its recent actions, “Moscow is losing its allies.”


            And that in turn suggests two things, the editors say. On the one hand, it calls into question Moscow’s brave talk about the real existence of a customs union among the three. And on the other, it means that Moscow needs to review and revise its policies toward neighboring countries lest it continue to drive them away (


            Chisinau officials say that they are very pleased by the decisions of Mensk and Astana not to join the sanctions against Moldova Moscow has announced, the paper says. They note that when Moscow imposed a wine embargo against Moldova in 2006, Belarus ignored it and purchased Moldovan wine on a bilateral basis.


            But today, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” points out, “the situation is different.” Supposedly, since 2010, there is a Customs Union, of which Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are members, and its decisions are supposedly taken by consensus. But on Moldova, there is no consensus; and that casts doubt on claims that the Customs Union “exists.”


            The present case, the paper continues, “is not unique.” In April, Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka proposed delaying the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union for ten years because the potential members were not “ready.”  And Astana has been concerned that the absence of Ukraine and Moldova in such an organization reduces its value to Kazakhstan.


            With Ukraine and Moldova now oriented toward Europe, the editors say, “the integration unions on the post-Soviet space in which Russia is participating either have already collapsed or are at the edge of that.” The CIS is in particular trouble. Georgia has left. Now Ukraine is doing so. And Moldova has declared its intention to head to the exits.


            But now, as the positions of Belarus and Kazakhstan show, the Customs Union is in trouble as well. And the paper notes that “not one of them supported Moscow when the European Union and the United States introduced sanctions against the Russian Federation.” As a result, Moscow’s plans for a Eurasian Economic Union are unlikely to go forward.


            This represents a major defeat for Putin. As “Nezavisimaya gazeta” notes, “in nine of the ten” messages of the Kremlin leader to the Federal Assembly, he has declared that increasing cooperation among and integration with the post-Soviet states is “a priority of the foreign policy of the country.”

            Despite these repeated declarations, the CIS is “gradually falling apart,” and any “illusions” about that have been finally dispelled after what has been happening in Ukraine.  Given that, Moscow needs to review its policies toward the region if it is to have any chance of reversing this decline.


            “Without that,” the paper concludes, “Russia risks remaining a pariah on the territory which it has traditionally considered a zone of its influence.”




Window on Eurasia: Moscow Using Refugees from Ukraine to Shift Ethnic Balance in Non-Russian Republics, Bashkir Historian Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 31 – Moscow is directing predominantly ethnic Russian refugees from the fighting in southeastern Ukraine into non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation in a transparent effort to change the ethnic balance in those republics and further Russianize them, according to Marat Kulsharipov, a historian at Bashkortostan State University.


            In an interview to RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, Kulsharipov said that those who are fleeing from Eastern Ukraine “are not sent to Rostov, Kursk Belgorod or other [predominantly] Russian regions [which are close to Ukraine] but to Bashkortostan, which is thousands of kilometers away” (


            Some of them, he continued, “are being accommodated in the summer camps” of local universities. Others are “being sent to different towns all over Bashkortostan, a Muslim Turkic republic in the Middle Volga.  That inevitably raises the question as to “why so many of them have been sent to [the non-Russian republics] rather than distributed equally throughout Russia.”


            In his judgment, Kulsharipov said, what is being done reflects a decision by Moscow to “change the ethnic mix” in the non-Russian republics, boosting the number of ethnic Russians and thus reducing the share of the titular nationalities. That is clearly part of a broader Moscow strategy to create a single “Russian” nation.


            There is another aspect to this Moscow-arranged flow: it has created unfunded mandates and sparked new ethnic tensions in the republics, the historian said.  “The refugees get money from the republic budget, and they get housing and jobs.” But “they’ll never take a hard and low-paying job.  People who live here are insulted by that.”


            The reason for the feelings of the Bashkirs, he said, is “that this is being done [by Moscow] on purpose. If the refugees were being sent to other regions as well, [they] wouldn’t be so frustrated.”  The Bashkirs are angry because they view this policy as “targeting the non-Russians.” The republic president probably understands this but “can’t say anything.”


            RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service reports that Bashkortostan is slated to receive up to 5,000 Russian refugees from Ukraine, a number that is not huge but one that can tip the ethnic balance were the share of the population of various nationalities is relatively evenly balanced as in many parts of that Middle Volga republic and to a certain extent for Bashkortostan as a whole.


                The policy Kulsharipov points to represents a continuation of Soviet practice.  When members of ethnic groups have returned from abroad, they were often settled not where they wanted but where Moscow thought this would do the most good for its policies of maintaining control.


            The most notorious of such Soviet actions, of course, was Moscow’s decision to settle Armenians returning from abroad after World War II in parts of the Armenian SSR and then invoking their need for space as the basis for expelling Azerbaijanis from the region, an action that still rankles in the southern Caucasus.


            But there is an equally clear case, albeit a negative one, of such policies elsewhere in post-Soviet Russia. Moscow has sought to block the return of Circassians to their historical homeland in the North Caucasus lest that shift the ethnic balance against the Russians and undermine central control of that restive region.

Window on Eurasia: Russian Census in Crimea to Be Detailed But Unlikely to Be Accurate

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 31 – The census in Crimea that the Russian occupation authorities plan to conduct in October will be extremely detailed but may not be accurate because Moscow experts have already indicated that they believe that there are far more Russians in Crimea and far fewer Crimean Tatars than have been counted hitherto.


            Such suggestions, made most prominently by Academician Valery Tishkov, a former Russian Federation nationalities minister and director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, almost certainly will be treated by Crimean officials as a mandate to come back with figures showing precisely that.


            And those Crimean officials will be able to do so because the census they plan will be based as most censuses are not on documents but rather on declarations and these declarations, which may be extremely varied, will be grouped by those who process the census information according to their own rules.


            Moreover, it seems very likely that just as many Russian speakers in Ukraine shifted their declared national identity from Russian to Ukrainian after the Soviet Union disintegrated, many of this group will now reverse themselves in Crimea, believing that the annexation will be permanent and that declaring oneself a Russian in that case is more beneficial.


            Krymstat, the Russian occupation authority’s statistical body, announced this week that the census it plans to conduct in October will include 33 questions, including date and place of birth, citizenship, ethnic origin, migration, sources of income, marital status, and residence (


            The statistical agency said that census takers will not require documentary confirmation for any of the declarations, that it will include foreigners resident in Crimea (although it did not indicate how they would be counted or grouped), and that it will focus in particular on those from abroad who have come to Crimea to work or study.


            Each of these elements introduces additional possibilities for falsification and obtaining the results that the Russian authorities want.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Window on Eurasia: What a Nationalist Movement Looks Like in Russia Where Elections are Still Allowed

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 30 – Vladimir Putin has eliminated elections at the regional levels at least in part to ensure that nationalist parties do not have the opportunity to challenge his hand-picked party of power officials. But some nationalist groups are using elections at the city level to advance their cause.


            In Karelia, Yekaterina Yemelyanova and Ilya Vereshchagin, two candidates of the Republic Movement of Karelia running for the city parliament in Petrazovodsk, have issued their election program, one that combines concerns typical of such local elections with broader issues as well (


            The majority of the planks are typical “good government” programs: a call for a greener and cleaner city, better road repairs, more transparent city planning, elimination of traffic jams, a better port and yachting harbor, increased security on trains and trucks carrying dangerous cargo through the city, and more assistance to young people, pensioners, and invalids.


But two of the planks have what some might view as a “national” or even “nationalist” dimension: preservation of the city’s historical center by excluding commercial development there and “broadening of international ties both by sister city programs and via municipal organizations from other countries.”


By including these planks in the campaign of its candidates to a city council, the Republic Movement of Karelia which seeks greater autonomy from Moscow is remaining true to its core principles albeit with the restrictions that Putin’s regime has imposed. And it is thus laying the groundwork for a more ambitious promotion of its ideas when that becomes possible.


Window on Eurasia: Moscow’s Orthodox Churches Deserted While Its Streets are Filled with Muslims

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 30 – This year, the Russian Orthodox Day of the Baptism of Rus coincided with Muslim holiday of Uraza Bayram. On Monday, in what many will see as symbolic, Moscow’s churches, with the exception of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, were largely empty, while the streets around the capital’s five mosques were filled with Muslims.


            In a commentary for the religious affairs site,, Feliks Shvedovsky says that this picture “would be funny if it were not so sad” and if it were not the case that this is “nothing new but on the contrary typical” of the situation in the Russian capital, all the talk about the return of Orthodox notwithstanding (


            The Union of Muftis of Russia has been emboldened by this to renew its request that the Moscow authorities reverse themselves and allow the construction of at least one mosque in each of the ten administrative divisions of the city, something Mayor Sobyanin has said he will not do because of the reaction of Muscovites.


            At the same time, of course, Sobyanin has gone alone with the Russian Orthodox Church’s plans to build 200 new churches in the Russian capital, even though there have been at least as many protests about what such construction projects will do to parks, neighborhoods and traffic patterns as there have been about the possible building of mosques.


            But, feeling themselves increasingly numerous and thus strong, Shvedovsky says, many Muslims in Moscow are now joking at least among themselves about “the fate of numerous Orthodox churches in Constantinople, which is now called Istanbul,” after the Muslims took over that city and made it the capital of the caliphate …


            Unfortunately, the Russian religious commentator says, Moscow officials are nonetheless unlike to accede to the Muslim requests but rather adopt what he calls “a ‘Crimean’ scenario,” in which, instead of optimizing what already exists, “the authorities will unite new territories” under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.”


            Moreover, they will invest ever greater funds “into propaganda of ‘Orthodox-patriotic values’ which have nothing in common with faith and spiritual live” and not oppose “the further demonization of the image of Islam at the day to day level.”  That reflects a judgment by those far above Sobyanin’s pay grade that they can re-ignite Islamophobia after Ukraine.


            Within the Russian Orthodox Church, one might have expected believers and hierarchs to be most concerned by the passing of Metropolitan Vladimir who had been the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But instead, it appears, most were upset that Patriarch Kirill hadn’t been able to travel to Kyiv for this anniversary.


            As a result, Shvedovsky says, the center for the celebration of the anniversary of the Baptism of Rus had to take place in Moscow where “it immediately became obvious that this is already almost a Muslim city and that the chimeras of ‘the Russian world’ haven’t existed since Crimea was taken from fraternal Christians.”


            “Nature” in this as in all things “abhors a vacuum,” the commentator says, “and in place of a transparent chimera” of the Russian Orthodoxy offered by the Moscow Patriarchate was the Moscow Muslim community including gastarbeiters which is now vital and full of energy.  That is a contrast few in the Russian government or the Patriarchate can be comfortable with.




Window on Eurasia: Russian Nationalist Says Ukraine is Finished Even If It Defeats Militants

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 30 –Some Russian nationalists are already looking beyond the defeat of the militants in eastern Ukraine by the Ukrainian military and arguing that “even if the revolt in Novorossiya is suppressed, Ukraine will no longer exist,” an assessment now less about pushing Moscow to intervene than about trying to put the best face on a defeat.


            In an article on the Russian nationalist today, Maksim Kalashnikov adds that “even if a time of troubles begins in the Russian Federation, Ukraine will not survive” in anything like what either Ukrainians or Russians expect and that “it is possible now to speak about ‘the former Ukraine’” (


            Ukrainians may think they are winning, Kalashnikov says, but “what will happen next?” The answer, he says, is a disaster. The IMF will impose serious requirements on Kyiv in exchange for loans. Those will lead to the closing of enterprises “the south-east of the ex-Ukraine.”  Even elsewhere in what he calls “Banderastan,” there won’t be work or aid and “the spiral of poverty” will become much worse. 


            At the same time, “in the former Ukraine, as a result of the low birthrate, the number of pensioners will grow while the share of young and working age people will fall.” In addition, he says, “millions of young people will leave to work as gastarbeiters in the European Union and cease to pay taxes or work in the former Ukraine.”


            To try to pay its bills, Kalashnikov continues, Kyiv will raise taxes on businesses which will lead the latter to close and cause foreign companies to shift their trade elsewhere, including to the ports of Romania. As a result of all this, “even a ‘victorious’ Ukraine faces the collapse of its economy and the impoverishment of its population.


            That in turn will lead to “new Maidans and revolts and to a rapid overthrow of one government after another … Separatism will again make an appearance: the South-East will again try to separate.” And that trend becomes even more likely because there will be witch hunts against the militants when the Ukrainian army marches in.


            That is what awaits “the new Ukraine,” Kalashnikov says, “even with the taking of Donetsk and Luhansk and even if the event of a time of troubles in the Russian Federation.”  In such a situation, “Bandera will no longer help,” regardless of “the banners under which they run.”


            Ukraine and the Russian Federation as well are on their way to becoming “failed states of the impoverished third world” because they like the other post-Soviet countries are, in Kalashnikov’s vision of the future, “condemned” to death.


Window on Eurasia: As Pro-Western Attitudes Weaken, Islamic Ones Becoming Stronger in Post-Soviet Muslim Countries, Yunusov Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 30 – Commentators in both Moscow and the West typically view the ideological competition in the post-Soviet countries as a simple one between pro-Russian and pro-Western groups, but in the Muslim-majority states, there is a third trend, the pro-Islamic one, and that is becoming stronger as the others and especially the Western one weakens.


            In a major interview on the religious and political situation in Azerbaijan posted online yesterday, conflict specialist Arif Yunusov says that in his country, the pro-Russian direction “was always weak” and the pro-Western one, strong in the 1990s, is weakening given popular disillusionment about the West (


            He suggests that this disillusionment has arisen because Western governments have cultivated close ties with President Ilham Aliyev, and he notes that “there is a law of conflict studies according to which when an empty space arises in society, other forces must fill it.” With the West’s influence ebbing, those forces are Islamic.


            In the 1990s, the pro-Western trend dominated, he continues. There were pro-Islamic groups but they were marginal. “No one took [them] seriously,” even when they were charged with being “pro-Iranian spies.”


            But since becoming president, Yunusov says, Ilham Aliyev has “cleansed this ‘pro-Western field,’” suppressing or extremely restricting the activities of parties and civil society and creating a situation in which “Azerbaijan will become a second Uzbekistan” or even “a second Turkmenistan.” Without any civil society, “this is a matter of time.”


            At the same time, the rising generation of Azerbaijanis is more seriously interested in Islam.  This has happened because they have concluded that “We don’t need Russia. The West is hypocritical and does not want anything besides our oil and gas and closes its eyes to all violations by the authorities of the norms of democracy.”


            Until the last decade, Yunusov continues, those most attracted toward Islam were “the national minorities of Azerbaijan, the peoples of the Northern Daghestani group – the Lezgins, the Avars, and the Tsakhurs.” Most of them were Salafites, something few ethnic Azerbaijanis are. The Islamic literature these groups had was “from Russia and in the Russian language.”


            Now, however, Islamization and its radicalization is spreading into the dominant community. If one percent of the Azerbaijanis were genuinely practicing Muslims 15 years ago, now 22 percent are, although at present only one percent are radicals. The rest are simply believers, but more are being radicalized by widespread repression and loss of faith in the West.


            What the regime does not appear to understand is that Muslims and even Salafites in Azerbaijan are overwhelming law-abiding and supporters of President Aliyev, Yunusov says, and any failure by the authorities to make the distinction between them and the tiny minority of radicals works not to the benefit of the regime or the majority.


            Unfortunately, he notes, it increasingly appears to be the case that “for the authorities, any believer is dangerous, and especially any believer who is not under control.” But such control is ultimately impossible. It is not hard to control the clergy in Christianity, but it is very difficult to control Muslims who don’t have one.


            “Closing a church is a heavy blow for a Christian but closing a mosque although unpleasant is not a tragedy. A Muslim simply transforms his apartment into a prayer hall,” Yunusov says. The Soviets closed all mosques and thought they had solved their problem. But Muslims simply went into their homes. Repeating the Soviet mistake is not a good idea.


            In order to avoid a disaster, Yunusov says, the most important thing is “to study the situation in order not to create myths.”  There isn’t going to be an Islamic revolution in Azerbaijan in the next 20 to 25 years, he says, because there are too many divisions within Islam in that country and there is no charismatic leader.


            The authorities need to understand that, and they need to understand as well that the role of Islam will nonetheless grow. Soviet times are not going to come back. And consequently, the leaders of the post-Soviet Muslim republics need to decide which path they would like their country to follow: that of Iran, that of the Arab countries or that of Turkey.


            Treating all believers as if they were all radicals is a dangerous and potentially counter-productive approach because while “there will not be a purely Islamic revolution as in Iran,” it cannot be excluded that there could be a popular explosion exploiting Islamic slogans, all the more so because of declining faith in Western values.


            Yunusov says he has noted “one tendency” which should be a matter of concern.  Where “pro-Western parties” have been restricted, “many people suddenly have gone over to Islam.” People are disappointed: “the Americans are silent, why?  Because of our oil and gas? Then we don’t need [their] democracy and so on.”


            Anti-Americanism is now widespread, and as a result of that, people are turning to Islam. “An individual cannot live without faith, and if his faith in the West is shaken, he will choose Islam,” Yunusov warns in words that apply not just to Azerbaijan but to the countries of Central Asia as well.



Window on Eurasia: Putin’s ‘Russian Spring’ Idea was Invented by Russian Fascists in 1920s

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 30 – Commentators in Moscow and the West ever more frequently draw parallels between Vladimir Putin’s ideas and actions and those of fascist regimes in the first part of the 20th century, but few have focused on the fact that one of the Kremlin leader’s most-cherished ideas, that of the “Russian Spring,” was invented by a Russian fascist in the 1920s.


                In a blog post today, Pavel Pryannikov corrects that gap, pointing out that “the ‘Russian Spring’ in fact is not an invention of the present time” but rather that this “synthesis of fascism, Stalinism, Russian Nationalism and Orthodoxy” was invented by Aleksandr Kazem-Bek, a leading theoretician of Russian fascism in the 1920s (


            While the more familiar Eurasian movement represented the first attempt to “combine corporatist (proto-fascist) and Bolshevik ideas,” he writes, “far more popular” among White Russians were the ideas of the Young Russians (“Mladorossy”) whose intellectual leader was Aleksandr Kazem-Bek.


            The descendent of an aristocratic family which came from Persia to Russia in the early 19th century, Kazem-Bek was “completely Russified.” He fought in the White Army and in 1920 at the age of 18 fled to Europe. There in 1923, he founded the Young Russia Union and served as its chief ideologist.


            The group in his view was to promote “a certain new type of totalitarian monarchy, the struggle against masonry and international capital and also a life ‘full of blood, fire, and self-sacrifice.’” In Kazem-Bek’s view, Russia should have a regime like Mussolini’s in Italy but be fully committed to the promotion of “’Russianness.’”


            Not only were his ideas derived from fascism, but Kazem-Bek adopted many fascist external features: a uniform, military discipline, and a cult of the leader. He insisted that the old Russia had died because of its corruption and that the Soviet revolution, which a catastrophe, was also “an apocalypse” which “cleansed” the Russian nation.


            Kazem-Bek increasingly viewed Stalin as an exemplar of the kind of leader he believed Russia should have, and he insisted that what Russia needed was a combination of Russian autocracy and Bolshevism or as he put it in one of his slogans, “a tsar and soviets” at one and the same time.


            His ideas attracted support among some of the Romanovs and other members of the nobility in emigration. But they and he also attracted the attention of the Soviet secret police, and by the middle 1930s, Kazem-Bek was assumed by many to be a collaborator with the NKVD, all the more so when he declared that Young Russia was a “second” Soviet party.


            Throughout his émigré career, Kazem-Bek was withering in criticism of “European values.”  He insisted that “Russia is not a competitor of Europe; it is its successor” and has the right to dispense with anything harmful in the European tradition.  “We are not only Europeans,” he wrote; “we are Russians. That is something European chauvinists cannot forgive us for.”


            After Mussolini formed his alliance with Hitler in 1939, Kazem-Bek broke with the Italian government and moved to France. By that point, his ideology could be described as “Russian Orthodox Stalinism.”  After Germany occupied France, the Young Russia leader fled  to the United States.


            There he began to work with the Russian Orthodox Church and especially with its Moscow Patriarchate wing. And in 1957, Kazem-Bek returned to Moscow where he worked in the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, which always had close ties with the KGB and out of which the current patriarch came.


            While in that job, Kazem-Bek frequently met with Patriarch Aleksii, Metropolitan Nikolay and other senior churchmen.  He lived in Ministry of Defense housing. When he died in February 1977, he was buried in Peredelkino and among those who spoke at his funeral was Archpriest Nikolay Gundyayev, the elder brother of Patriarch Kirill.


            At that time, Father Nikolay Gundyayev said “we must not only remember Kazem-Bek but study him.” Since the latter’s death, the Moscow Patriarchate has done so. In 2002, on the centenary of Kazem-Bek’s death, Vsevolod Chaplin was among those who took part in a conference on the Young Russia leader.


            Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), who has been a spiritual advisor to Putin, is known to highly value Kazem-Bek’s ideas, Pryannikov says. And it is probably through him that the ideas of a Russian fascist of the 1920s have come to the attention and affected the thinking of the current Kremlin leader.




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Window on Eurasia: A Dangerous Echo in Eastern Europe of Moscow’s Irredentism in Ukraine

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 29 – Russia’s Regnum news agency is reporting something that Moscow’s policies in Ukraine have helped promote: a Hungarian leader in Transylvania is now demanding “total national independence” from Romania, a move that could thoroughly destabilize not only Romania and Hungary but much of Eastern Europe.


            Lazlo Tokes, whom Regnum describes as “one of the leaders of the Hungarians of Transylvania,” said yesterday at a Hungarian summer school in Băile Tușnad that “the time for a Hungarian autonomy has passed” and that he and his people must now demand “total national independence” from Romania (


            At the same time, Tokes acknowledged that at present he does “not have any basis for optimism” that this will occur because of what he called “the colonization” of Transylvania by Romanians, a Bucharest policy that he said has “converted [the Hungarian community] there into a diaspora.”


            And he said that the Hungarians could not afford to wait any longer to press for independence. “There is no time for indefiniteness or political opportunism … Out time is now; it is necessary to act now ... Only total national independence can bring a rebirth to the Hungarian community.”


            Moreover, Tokes added, the issue of autonomy for various ethnic groups has become “a key problem for the national security of Europe and the European Union,” and granting autonomy to ethnic minorities is “the only path of resolving relations between neighboring countries.”


            For the edification of its readers, Regnum appended to this report a brief history of the often-troubled and sometimes explosive history of their region over the last century.  

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Should Shift Its Attention from ‘Russian World-II’ to ‘Russian World-I,’ Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 29 – The Russian government should reduce the attention it is paying to ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the former Soviet republics – a group he calls “Russian World II” – and expand its attention to ethnic Russians and those who feel at attachment to Russia elsewhere, a group he calls “Russian World I,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says


            Moscow should do so, the director of the Moscow Center for Research on Post-Industrial Society, because Russian World II includes people who are on the defensive and who want more from Moscow than they can give in return while Russian World I is at the cutting edge of development and can give far more back than an appeal to them would cost.


            In today’s “Vedomosti,” Inozemtsev notes that many in Moscow now talk about the “Russian world” carelessly and sloppily, ignoring both its diversity and the costs and benefits for the Russian Federation in dealing with one or another part of it. That, he argues, needs to change


            Inozemtsev says that “beyond the borders of Russia there now live up to 35 million people who consider themselves Russians and almost 60 million who call Russian culture their native one.” He suggests that it is divided in three major groups: those who left at the beginning of the 20th century and settled in the US, Canada, France and Brazil, those who left after the collapse of the USSR, and those who have remained in new independent states.


            Each of these groups has a different identity and different patterns of behavior, he continues. “The majority” of the first has been “assimilated their new countries for a long time” and are “linked with Russia only by symbolic cultural values.” Those in the second don’t feel a break with Russia but “as a rule” have “a dual identity” and accept the values of the globalized world.


            The first two groups constitute what Inozemtsev calls “Russian World-I;” the third forms “Russian World II.” The first “world” arose “as a result of the free choice of more than 6.5 million people.” Their descendents form significant parts of the population of the major megalopolises of “the European cultural tradition.”


            They have higher pay than the average of the populations they live among – in the US, the average pay of this group is 39 percent above the American average – they are well educated – there are “more than 6,000 ‘Russian’ professors” in US colleges and universities and “no fewer than 4,000” in European ones – and they have enormous wealth – more than a trillion US dollars.


            In short, “Russian World-I created outside of Russia an economiy and an intellectual community, completely commensurate with Russia itself: the technological and industrial production of the companies under its control significantly exceeds the non-raw materials sector of the Russian economy, and the share of those ‘representatives of Russian culture’ living abroad in terms of the scholarly citation index and number of Nobel Prize winners is higher than among citizens of Russia.”


            “Russian World-II” is very different, Inozemtsev points out. It is “a community of those who in its majority have turned out to be incapable of leaving the countries formed after the collapse of the USSR and those who have become ‘professional Russians’ who do not want to adapt to the life of the new countries.”


            It is thus not ahead of Russia, the Moscow analyst says, but its “rearguard,” and because “its representatives are forced to defend their cultural values in a relatively hostile milieu, they are more oriented toward preservation than toward development and thus to national and not global standards of behavior.”


            “Russian World-II looks to the Russian state as the fulfillment of its aspirations and therefore in part and not without foundation is viewed in its countries as a fifth column of Russia which still further complicates its situation.” Indeed, as these nation states strengthen, the insistence of “Russian World-II” on their differences will “make these people potential outcasts.”


            At present, Moscow is focused almost exclusively on supporting Russian World-II and is ignoring Russian World-I.  As a result, “Russia is spending enormous sums on absolutely senseless and in part harmful measures” and ignoring underlying trends such as the declining share of ethnic Russians in neighboring countries.


Inozemtsev says that the Russian government should change course, focusing on Russia World I rather than Russia World-II. To that end, it should promote “responsible repatriation and introduce jus sanguinis as the basis for citizenship. Moreover, it should recognize and accept dual citizenship.


And Moscow should recognize that it would “receive a great deal more as a result of the mass resettlement into Russia of ethnic Russians from the former USSR than from the support of ‘administered instability’ in the post-Soviet space or from the inclusion of masses of uneducated migrants who are alien to [Russian] culture.”


            At the same time, Russia could benefit as China has by reaching out to the wealthy, educated, and technologically advanced “Russian World-II” seeing it as a means to help transform Russia rather than as is the case with “Russian World-I” as a break on such development.



Window on Eurasia: Russians Scrambling to Explain Why People in Eastern Ukraine Haven’t Flocked to Secessionist Banners

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 29 – As the Ukrainian military closes in on Moscow-backed forces in southeastern Ukraine, Russian commentators are scrambling to explain why the Russian-speaking population in that region have not flocked to the banners of the secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk.

            Not surprisingly, these commentators have not focused on the facts that the population there overwhelmingly now identifies as Ukrainians and has no interest in becoming part of the Russian Federation, but what they are saying says a lot about how Moscow is trying to explain away its own miscalculation about the support it would receive.

            The “Voennoye obozreniye” portal, which is directed at Russian military and patriotic groups, today re-posed a Russian blogger’s list of “the seven reasons why men in the Donbas don’t want to fight in the ranks of the militants” ( from

On the basis of a visit to the region, the blogger whose screen name is Politchanka lists the following reasons:
  1. “The absence of an authoritative leader among the militants,” including the fact that most of those in prominent positions are not local but from Russia and Moscow. Many people there, she says, “do not like Muscovites.”
  2. “The negative example of the ‘heavenly hundred,’” a memory of the deaths of more than 100 people in the Maidan which suggests that fighting at the risk of the loss of one’s own life may be pointless. “In the opinion of the Donetsk people, only fools fight and die for some idea; smart people survive and vacation in Crimea.”
  3. “Marauding and extortion.” People have been put off, Politchanka continues, by the theft of automobiles by unidentified people and the fact that the authorities are incapable of doing anything about this.
  4. “The militants do not defend the cities.” The militants defend their own houses; but when Ukrainian forces attack the towns, they “depart” for somewhere quiet, something others cannot do.
  5. “Internal splits.”  “It is no secret,” she writes, that the leaders are constantly fighting among themselves about who is the most important. That puts people off.
  6. “The inability of the militants to maintain normal everyday infrastructure in the city.” Stores, schools and hospitals are closed, and “people do not see any prospects.” As a result, “they aren’t joining the ranks of the militants.”
  7. “The lack of correspondence between the expectations the referendum sparked and reality.”  People in Donetsk and Luhansk hoped everything would be as it was in Crimea. “No one told them that they would be bombed and have to sit in basements without having the opportunity even to eat normally.  “Therefore they do not want to fight.”
    Politchanka says that she draws these conclusions not just from her conversations with people in Donetsk but also from online discussions. Unless those in charge of the situation in southeastern Ukraine address these problems, she said, “the level of support in the population” for the militants will fall geometrically.”