Saturday, April 21, 2018

Putin System Direct Continuation of Golden Horde-Style Rule, Khakass Historian Says

Paul Goble           

            Staunton, April 20 – Many analysts and commentators have suggested that the Russian state was shaped in profound ways by the rule over large parts of it nearly a millennium ago by the Golden Horde; but now Kharmoos Tyundeshev, a Khakass historian, has gone a step further. He says Putin’s system is a near-perfect continuation of Golden Horde rule.

            That is, the author of The Great Khan Baty – the Founder of Russian Statehood (in Russian) argues, Putin rules a Horde-style federation, has established a totally subservient Duma like the Horde’s kurultai, and acts in his capacity of president just as the khans of the Golden Horde did (

            In his book, Tyundeshev agues that “the state established by Khan Baty exists up to now,” with the only difference being that “its state language is Russian, itself a mixture of Slavic and Turkic.” The contemporary Russian state thus “was formed not on the basis of Kievan Rus” and “not in competition with the Horde forces.”

            Instead, he continues, “Russia arose on a completely new Muscovite basis, which was an organic part of the Golden Horde state system. It grew out of the competition of Muscovy with the khanates which had earlier been included in the Golden Horde for the population of a great state that was in the process of disintegrating.”

            For a long time, “the Golden Horde was for the Russian [rulers] the most importance source of legitimacy and prestige of their power. Close ties with the khan’s court, where customs completely different from ancient Russian ones dominated, customs based on harsh and often blind subordination could not fail to be reflected in [their] consciousness and behavior.

            Thus, one must conclude, Tyundeshev says, “Khan Baty was the founder of Russian statehood. All the state system in Rus created by him was part of the Golden Horde. Now [Russia] would be called its ‘federal subject’ … [As the horde declined,] the center of administration of the state gradually was transferred to Rus.”

            “By its mentality,” the historian argues, “Russia is an Asiatic country. There is a small part of the population which prefers a European one. But the grater part, although it belongs to the European race, has an Asiatic mentality. This is connected with traditional ethics, the force of habit and ancestors, and the authority of political leaders.”

            Not surprisingly, “it is very difficult to learn to be free.”

            “When serfdom was outlawed in 1861, a large portion of the serfs didn’t know what to do. Then there was a totalitarian regime, in fact, a form of slavery. Of course, an Asiatic mentality has been preserved. This is show in the elections, including the presidential ones: I think there wasn’t any falsification. This is the same mentality. You can’t change it quickly.”

            In the Golden Horde and in Putin’s system, there is everywhere “a power vertical.” And that means that often “a presidential decree is higher than the Constitution, as for example, that about the creation of federal districts, something that itself traces its origins to the depths of Turkic-Mongol statehood.”

            “From the Golden Horde has been preserved the tradition of life-long or at least lengthy time in office” of rulers and “voluntarism” in their decisions. But that has serious flaws: “Even if the leader has outstanding abilities and exceptional morality, in the final analysis, the state decays and the regime looks for enemies foreign and domestic.”

            “In Western Europe,” Tyundeshev says, “there exists a clear division of powers. [Russians however] have a super-presidential republic where the institution of the presidency is above the other branches of power, and the Duma is not like the parliaments in Western Europe. Here there is no system of checks and balances. The Duma always votes as the president says.”

            That means that “the president is the khan of today.”

            He gives the following example: In Yoshkar-Ola last summer, Putin declared that “the languages of the national republics must not be imposed on non-indigenous residents.”  And immediately officials began enforcing not a law, not a decree, but a presidential declaration and started banning the required study of non-Russian languages.

            “But we have a multi-national federation; and in the constitutions of the national republics there is a requirement that the second state language is the language of the indigenous population of the republic and all children living in this republic must study it.”   An Asiatic khan could overrule this; a European president wouldn’t.

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