Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Russia Now Living Under ‘Chechen Yoke,’ Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 22 – Probably no event in their history has left Russians so traumatized as the Mongol yoke which was marked by the conquest of the country and the rise of Moscow as the surrogate of the Mongols on that territory. But now Russia has fallen under another “yoke,” Igor Yakovenko says, the “Kadyrov” or “Chechen” yoke as a result of Putin’s policies.

            He draws this conclusion on the basis of the shift in the position of the St. Petersburg leadership. In January 2015, city head Georgy Poltavchenko refused to name a street there in honor of Akhmat Kadyrov but this year, despite widespread opposition, he agreed to rename a much more prominent bridge for the late Chechen leader (

            Yakovenko says there are three possible explanations for this, two of which can be quickly dismissed.  The first is that Poltavchenko has been accused by his spokesman of denying the existence of the city, something the commentator says that can be rejected “as completely fantastic.”

            The second “hypothesis,” he continues, is that the head of St. Petersburg had reflected and changed his mind independently.  “One must recognize this version of events as still more fantastic than the previous one.”  Poltavchenko served in the KGB and certainly isn’t going to change his mind on anything the regime thinks is essential.

            That leaves the third version as “the only possible one,” Yakovenko argues.  The St. Petersburg head was asked to name the bridge after Kadyrov by someone he couldn’t say “no” to – and that person of course is the occupant of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, who clearly needed to take this step more than Poltavchenko does.

            “The Kadyrov yoke as the authentic Horde one has a multitude of manifestations,” the Moscow commentator says. The Mongols established 14 kinds of tribute they required those living under their rule to pay.  Kadyrov is no different: he’s extracted 539 billion rubles (nine billion US dollars) from Moscow.

            That tribute has allowed him to build fountains and mosques in Grozny and permitted most Chechens not to have to work. According to Yakovenko, only one in six Chechens pays taxes.  The vassal regime in Russia is willing to pay for all this because it isn’t all that much money given how much more its members can steal as a result of these arrangements.

            But “Khan Kadyrov” wants his “vassals” to pay “symbolic tribute” as well, Yakovenko writes. He is “the most popular blogger of the country,” and things have been worked out so that anyone who criticizes him will either be charged by the vassal authorities or killed either by his own forces or theirs.

            He now has his bridge in St. Petersburg, but “the khan” wants more: he is calling on the Russian Central Bank to put pictures of his capital on its new 200 and 2,000 ruble notes.  That too recalls the Mongol horde’s approach, and it may even be, Yakovenko says, that the names for these two notes will be taken from the Mongol originals, the denge and the pulo.

            The country will only be more tightly tied together, the Russian commentator says, concluding his essay with the challenge: “and you talk about ‘the Russian world’!”

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