Sunday, December 28, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Publishes Tsarist Émigré Letter Denouncing Western Criticism of Putin on Ukraine

Paul Goble


            Staunton, December 28 – Three days ago, “Rossiiskaya gazeta” published in full a letter that has been circulating in the internet for some weeks from more than 100 descendants of the first Russian emigration denouncing Western governments for their criticism of Vladimir Putin and Russian policy in Ukraine (


            The authors say that the West suffers from double standards as far as Russia is concerned and asks “where are European values?”  “Russia,” it continues, is accused of all possible crimes and without evidence it is a priori declared guilty,” while at the same time, other countries are given a pass for their violations of human rights.


            The authors declare that “we do not in any way separate ourselves from the defense of those values our ancestors, who were condemned to exile after the 1917 revolution, trained us in … but this does not mean that we can sit still given the daily slander of contemporary Russia, its leadership and its president.”


            The attacks on Russia at a time when the crimes of Ukrainian officials are ignored are, in the words of the letter, “self-destructive for European countries.”


            Moscow has often sought to get one or more émigré to speak out in support of Russian policy both because this reinforces Putin’s notion of a seamless “Russian world” and because these people are citizens of other countries and thus in a position to bring pressure to bear on them. But this letter stands out because it is signed by so many.


            In a discussion of this letter today, Natalya Kanevskaya and Dmitry Volchek of RFE/RL ask whether it contents represent “solidarity with the Motherland” or “solidarity with the KGB” and interviews the author of the letter, Prince Dmitry Shakhovskoy and several of the signatories (


            The number of signatories is impressive, but as Kanevskaya and Volchek point out, far from all Russian emigres and children of same agree with it.  Aleksander von Hahn (Gan) the grandson of a close associate of Admiral Kolchak’s regime in Siberia during the Civil War, is among those. Gan has prepared a letter also in the name of those who left Russia after 1917.


            “Yet another year is approaching which we have spent beyond the borders of Russia,” von Hahn’s letter reads in part. “This was not our choice. It was made for us by those who for almost a century have ruled Russia.  KGB Colonel Putin continues the policy of the systematic destruction of Russia.”


            “To force Russian people to kill one another is the goal of the current ‘Kremlin dreamers,’” the letter continues. The Kremlin’s “nationalistic propaganda” is filling the minds of the population with “the poison of hatred, nationalism, anger, and suspiciousness.” And under the pretext of the “Russian world,” Moscow is setting everything best about Russia against Europe.


            And von Hahn’s letter concludes: “Just like 70 years ago during war communism, Moscow is threatening the world with total destruction. We declare decisively and with complete certainty that these plans are condemned to failure.”




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