Staunton, October 20 – As Andrey Illarionov has wisely put it, the debate among Russian opposition figures concerning what should be done with Crimea is in fact a debate about the future of Russia or, as he puts it, “tell me what you think about Crimea, and I’ll tell you what you think about the future of Russia” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=54449B88A5FEE).
That makes the debate, sparked by the statements of Andrey Navalny and Mikhail Khodorkovsky that they would not give Crimea back even though Russia illegally stole it more important as an indication of what Russians are thinking and where Moscow might go in the event that Vladimir Putin’s Ukrainian adventure leads to a change in direction in Russia.
Boris Nemtsov, a leader of Parnas and Solidarity, has now weighed in on this debate with “Ten Theses about Crimea,” an indictment of Putin’s policies which he argues will leave Russia as a backward supplier of raw materials to China and thus make it “a slave” to Beijing (echo.msk.ru/blog/nemtsov_boris/1421574-echo/).
His ten theses are the following:
- “The seizure of Crimea was illegal and violated two important international accords, the Budapest memorandum … of 1994 … and the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Russia and Ukraine of 1997.”
- “The ‘referendum’ in Crimea was conducted” in a way that means it will “never be recognized in the world” as legitimate.”
- “Public opinion of the Crimean residents is clearly pro-Russian. This is a fact which Putin uses to justify his seizure of the peninsula.”
- “The rights of the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of the peninsula, are being violated in the crudest way.”
- “Crimea is a territory not recognized in the world, a status which condemns it to stagnation.”
- “Russia does not have the money to quickly establish land communications with the peninsula or reconstruct Crimea.”
- “The problem of Crimea must be resolved by peaceful means. A military solution does not exist.”
- “The Crimean issue must be the subject of talks between Russia and Ukraine with the participation of the European Union. The basis for a dialogue exists. Putin needs the end of sanctions and the lifting of his outcast status, Ukraine needs money and the preservation of the unity of the country, and Europe needs peace and a predictable policy in the east.”
- “The seizure of Crimea has had a very serious impact on the economic interests of Russia and worsened its international situation.”
- “The aggressive policy toward Ukraine has led the country to international isolation and as a result the Kremlin has been forced to bow to China. Russians are a great European people which Putin is leading into Chinese slavery.”