Friday, July 31, 2015

Ukraine Mustn't Count on Changes in Russia Soon but Instead Be Prepared to Fight On, Borovoy Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 31 – Konstantin Borovoy, an outspoken Russian opposition politician and commentator, says Ukrainians are making a big mistake if they assume there is going to be any change in Russia soon either from above or below. And he insists that they must instead be prepared for more war and the need to fight in defense of their country.

            In an interview given to “Ukrainska Pravda,” Borovoy, who came to Kyiv during the Maidan, opposed the Crimean Anschluss, and encouraged the US to provide financial and military help to Ukraine, was as outspoken in his comments as his late friend Valeriya Novodvorskaya (

            Many Ukrainians, he suggests, now place their hopes for the future in some dramatic change from below: a palace coup, a successful challenge to the Kremlin by the opposition, or a social explosion that would spark a revolution. But none of these things are likely, according to Borovoy.

            Putin does not face a challenge from within his entourage. Instead, he has promoted the idea of competition within it to increase his own power. The Kremlin leader does not face a challenge from what is called the Russian opposition because almost all those who call themselves that have been coopted or are controlled to one extent or another.

            And he does not face a social revolution either, Borovoy argues. Whatever some Ukrainians think, “there are no poor frozen Russians” who are ready to demand change. The situation “is still worse than you think” because as far as Ukrainians are concerned, Russia is “an enemy,” and “one should not expect anything positive from such an enemy camp.”

            Borovoy says he participated in politics at the end of Soviet times and at the beginning of post-Soviet ones when he “was certain that Russia would become a democratic state.” But he agree with his interviewer that Russian society “has been transformed into a society of consumers who haven’t noticed that they are in a concentration camp.”

            He dates “the beginning of the [current] imperial project” to 1994-1995, the time of Yeltsin’s conflict with Tatarstan over whether Russia would be a federation or a confederation. “then in 1994 was issued a secret decree about the preparation for the suppression of an anti-constitutional putsch.”

            In that decree, Borovoy says, it was specified that Moscow would introduce forces into the non-Russian republics if their presidents issued a joint declaration on the issue. “This was July 1994.” At the end of the year, he says, this project began to be carried out. This was an imperial project” which did not kill democracy in Russia but put its future at risk.

            Turning to Ukraine, he says that Russia will continue the war, now stepping up the pressure and now lowering it to keep everyone off guard.  Ukrainians must be prepared to “fight and fight with enormous losses” because “there are no other options” available if they want to control their own future.

            “Ukraine today is defending not just its own national values or will defend them if it actively takes part in this war but those of European and Western civilization,” Borovoy says. That should be a source of enormous pride. And it should prompt Europe and the West to come to its aid more than they have.

            Instead, many in Europe have become cynics, with some even asserting that yes, Ukraine is losing 7,000 combat deaths a year but it is giving birth to “more than 7,000” and so the whole thing doesn’t matter as long as the war doesn’t spread.  But with that attitude, Putin can attack and convert Ukraine into a zone of war without clear battle lines, a disaster for Ukrainians.

            In that event, Borovoy concludes, “Ukraine would be converted into a copy of Moldova” and its people could look forward to only “a slow death.”  Fighting the Russian enemy is a better option.

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