Monday, March 27, 2017

Instability Said Flowing into Russia From Former Soviet Republics

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 27 – It has been a core part of Vladimir Putin’s message for more than a decade that Russia is surrounded by enemies and that they are seeking to promote instability inside his country, but he generally has identified major Western countries as the guilty parties rather than any state closer to home.

            Now, according to Svetlana Gamova, a political observer for NG-Dipkuryer, some former Soviet republics have become an even more immediate threat; and she calls for “closing in a reliable fashion” the borders the Russian Federation shares with these countries (

            What makes her article so intriguing is that she implicitly recalls the situation at the end of the Soviet period when the revolutions in the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Armenia played a key role in powering the upsurge of anti-communist and anti-Soviet attitudes among Russians.

            What is taking place in Belarus now, Gamova says, shows the baselessness of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s claims that his country is “island of stability” and that no Maidan like the one in Ukraine can ever happen, even as Belarusians are taking their cues from Ukrainian activists and as Ukrainians are preparing to send armed people into Belarus.

            The Belarusian leader, she continues, “has told the population about camps for the preparation of militants in Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and what is most surprising in Belarus itself.  How given the vigilance of the Belarusian KGB in which Lukashenka has assured the citizens of his country could such special camps arise?”

                Lukashenka’s argument that there can’t be a Maidan in Belarus ultimately reduces to one that insists that is impossible because it is impossible. (Similar kinds of arguments are made in and about Russia too. See, for example,

            But “it turns out,” the NG-Dipkuryer observer says, that “everything is possible” especially now that new social groups are coming out behind the small Belarusian opposition and because “all those who want to change the regime in that country” are taking advantage of the new situation in Belarus.

            Fearful that the Ukrainians would dispatch units to help the Belarusian protesters, Lukashenka’s regime stepped up its control of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, something Minsk has not done on the Belarusian-Russian border.  There anyone can pass without being checked at all.

            “All this leaves the citizens of Russian defenseless both from the side of Belarusians and from the side of Ukrainians,” Gamova says.

            The average Russia doesn’t care where militants, terrorists, or activists come from, “east or west.” He cares only that such people be blocked from entering the country and disturbing his life and that of his family.  For that, serious borders are needed, including with Ukraine and now Belarus.

            The Belarusian-Russian borders should have been fortified long ago, because the transit of aliens “under the form of Belarusians must stop just like the export of Polish apples.” The same thing is true of the Russian-Ukrainian border.  But unfortunately, those are not now the only borders in the post-Soviet space across which instability can come.

            Kyrgyzstan, the commentator continues, is a problem because “instability is exported along with goods and workers. And this too is the occasion for concern of Russian citizens and the increase in the vigilance of our special services which we hope are not sleeping. And there are problems at least potentially with Moldova

            “Thus, it has turned out,” Gamova concludes, “that we live in a region of instability and under conditions of intensifying security threats for the population of our country. Not to take this into consideration and continuing to hope that we are united by a common past or a common future in the form of integration structures, is a mistake.”

            More to the point, she says, it is “a mistake which can change many things [and] unfortunately not in [Russia’s] favor.”

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