Friday, November 24, 2017

Federal Districts, Intended to Stop Disintegration of Russia, Could in Fact Promote It, Gorshenin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 23 – Vadim Gorshenin, a Pravda commentator, says that he hopes that textbooks written 25 years from now will not view Vladimir Putin’s creation of federal districts, an act intended to stop Russia’s disintegration, as a new edition of Mikhail Gorbachev’s New Union Treaty and a move that accelerated rather than blocked the coming apart of Russia.

            But unfortunately, he continues, “certain tendencies on view now suggest that this is possible,” not only because larger units pose a greater challenge to a state than smaller ones but because there are forces at home and abroad that are promoting regionalism as a means of dividing up Russia (

                The process that led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Gorshenin says, began with efforts to promote non-Russian languages and the powers of non-Russian republics and appeared to be continuing within the Russian Federation with “the parade of sovereignties” of its republics and regions in the 1990s.

            And it was to root out these tendencies that Putin signed the decree setting up the federal districts headed by plenipotentiary representatives of the Russian president and intended to rein in the regions and republics.  But as recent events show, things haven’t worked out that way, and that should be a matter of concern.

            Non-Russian republics are pushing for their national languages, and regions are re-emerging as a political focus, not only because people in Russia have their own albeit incorrect reasons for doing so but because foreign groups like the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung are actively promoting such things and neither Moscow nor the plenipotentiaries are responding forcefully.

            Gorshenin focuses on two sets of results of research conducted by the German foundation: The first found that “70 percent of Russians acknowledge that they experience hostility to people of other nationalities” and “40 percent of whom would approve forcibly moving representatives of other nationalities from their place of residence.”

            The second suggested that in Novosibirsk, Omsk and Irkutsk people are now identifying as Siberians rather than Russians. That is, the Pravda commentator continues, “the population of Siberia is a community within Russia with distinctive characteristics in its view of its cultural, territorial, and political community.”

            Similar ideas were behind the notion of “an independent Siberian Republic in the 1990s,” and it is clear that someone – and Gorshenin strongly suggests it is the West in the shape of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – wants to reignite that idea, possibly within the borders of the federal districts that Moscow has created but not for that purpose.

            Belarus has already banned the German foundation on its territory, and Turkish courts have established that the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung is working hand in glove with the German intelligence service.  Unfortunately, no one in Russia has responded in a similarly tough fashion – and Russians may ultimately pay for that.

            “I very much do not want that my grandchildren or I hope great grandchildren will live in another country much reduced in size with a name like Muscovy” and “will learn from their school textbooks “about the unsuccessful attempt of Vladimir Putin at the beginning of this century to stop the disintegration of Russia via the introduction of federal districts.”

            But that can happen, Grushenin says, if Moscow continues to assume that there is no problem and no threat and thus fails to respond to the challenges domestic and foreign in a tough manner. 

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