Staunton, February 27 – The second anniversary of Boris Nemtsov’s murder near the wall of the Kremlin has sparked many memories about the late Russian politician and his ideas, but none may be more insightful about the future of the Russian Federation and its current opposition than the one offered by St. Petersburg regionalist Pavel Mezerin.
Immediately after Putin’s Crimean Anschluss, Mezerin writes on the AfterEmpire portal, Nemtsov pointed out that “the annexation of Crimea had laid a bomb under the unity of Russia. As long as oil prices remain high, Russia will not fall apart. But now imagine that oil will sell for 50-60 dollars a barrel” (afterempire.info/2017/02/27/nemtsov/).
“A serious budgetary crisis will stimulate separatists to seek independence in places like Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Sakha and regions of Siberia,” Nemtsov continued. “That is, this will happen in the financialaly strong regions which could live quite well without the federal center. For the separatists of Russia, the example of Crimea will be inspiring.”
Mezerin says that “as a citizen of the Russian Federation,” he wants to state the following: “If my native St. Petersburg in 1991 had become independent from Russia, then today it would be a European Singapore, Hong Kong and Monaco rolled into one.”
Today, he continues, “I am terribly tired of all the imperialism” of the Russian state and also of the “’all-federation opposition figures’ like Khodorkovsky, Navalny, Yavlinsky, Kasparov, Kasyanov and so on … I want to tell them: Guys, please understand that the issue of independence of the current Russian regions will arise as soon as ‘the vertical’ begins to shake.”
“You and your ‘federal liberalism’ are flesh of the flesh of the current system. You have exactly the same focus on leaderism and messianism as United Russia does. Dear friends! Just what Russia are you talking about? It hasn’t existed for a hundred years! What ‘single national idea’ … do you want to proposes to the residents of Kaliningrad and Chukotka?”
“Remember history,” Mezerin says. “Every time when serious changes begin in Russia, all regions immediately try to take as much sovereignty as they can.” And in that situation, those who back “’the single and indivisible’ immediately becomes the chief retrogrades and marginals” in the political system.
At the same time, he continues, “the most farsighted, knowing this very history, break all ties with Moscow, burn their bridges and run away.” When this process of decentralization and independence begins, Mezerin tells the liberal leaders, “you will not be able to stop it” and if you oppose it you won’t be needed by anyone.
“I assure you,” he continues, “the slogan ‘Stop feeding Moscow!’ will become the most popular one in a matter of a few weeks or months.”
Many Russian liberals today like to trace their political ancestry to the dissidents of Soviet times. The latter truly did “a very great deal for the defeat of the communism system” and they deserve enormous respect for their courage and consistency. But very few of them could imagine or even support a post-Soviet world of 15 different countries.
Now these dissidents of the past sit around in Moscow and Petersburg and express their bitterness about “’the Russia which we lost.’”
“My friends, the Yavlinskys, the Khodorkovskys, the Navalnys, the Kasparovs and the Kasyanovs! Don’t repeat the mistakes of the Soviet liberal intelligentsia.” Don’t remain imprisoned by your “liberal imperialism.” There are not and will not be any “liberal empires” now or in the future.
Moreover, please recognize that “any federation or confederation will be established ‘from below’ and on a voluntary basis. Let us go! But the main thing is let yourselves go as well. And begin to think about life ‘after Russia.’ Believe me, that life is going to exist.”