Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Former Soviet Nations Lack ‘Deep States’ Needed to Shape and Guide Them, Sultanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 29 – Tatars and other non-Russian peoples of the post-Soviet space, just like the Russians, have not had time to form their respective “deep states” consisting of self-conscious elites who are capable of shaping and guiding the peoples under them, Shamil Sultanov says.

            That process takes a minimum of two generations, the president of the Russia-Islamic World Center for Strategic Research and member of the Izborsky Club says; and no one of these peoples has had sufficient time to allow for such a deep state to emerge (business-gazeta.ru/article/452131).

            Some republic leaders have tried to maintain the Soviet-era “deep state” with more or less success, Sultanov says. Tatarstan was among the most successful in this under Mintimir Shaymiyev. Others have thrown caution to the wind and tried to create something entirely new. There successes so far have been few (business-gazeta.ru/article/452131).

                “The Tatar people has many outstanding people,” he says, “but it doesn’t have an elite as a special group with its own self-consciousness … Everywhere and always the deep state is the foundation. There is a stat with its formal institutions and within it a deep state which carries its own ideas about eh future, and the deep values which unite and bears responsibility for all this.”

            “A Soviet elite was established, but mechanisms for the transformation of this elite did not exist.” As a result, when the USSR disintegrated, “no new elite appeared.” And that has left the population at loose ends. “For a people, the key thing is the elite” understood as the deep state.

            In the course of his 6500-word interview, Sultanov makes a number of other observations, perhaps the most interesting of which is this: He says that “Putin himself when he came to office did not know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. Ignorance in the upper reaches of the bureaucracy in Moscow sometimes is simply shocking.”

‘Main Result of 2019 in Russia the Absence of Results’ and That isn’t Good, Nesmiyan Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 29 – The past year has been one in which “all the trends which arose in earlier years continued,” and therefore we are entitled to conclude that “the main result of 2019 in Russia was the absence of any results” even as the system continues to degrade economically, socially and politically, Anatoly Nesmiyan says.

            That combination makes the future development of events obvious in that with ever fewer resources, there will be ever greater struggles over them and the results will be ever more negative for most, with the likelihood of an explosion on the part of  the rest ever more likely (t.me/nesmijan/2254 reposted at rusmonitor.com/anatolij-nesmiyan-glavnym-itogom-2019-goda-v-rossii-yavlyaetsya-otsutstvie-lyubyh-itogov.html).

            “In this sense,” the Moscow commentator says, “2019 became a continuation of the previous years, one without the slightest attempt at resolving the underlying problem. We enter the last year of the second decade with the very same contradictions of a year ago but at a lower level. This apparently is too be called ‘stability.’”

            This situation may continue for a time in an inertial way, but with ever fewer resources, it cannot continue forever. At some point, there will be unanswerable demands for fundamental change, leading to a revolutionary situation because those in power have proved themselves incapable of action and incapable of responding to the demands of the people.

            And this scenario which will occur even if the regime tries to continue everything as it now is will lead to the rise of “one single question: the question of the future of the enormous territory” now within the borders of the Russian Federation.

            “Will it remain united (then the struggle will be conducted on the basis of the principles of the organization of administration in it – centralized, federal or confederal) or will the disintegration of the country take place and then have to be established principally new relations with the surrounding space” and concerned outside powers.

            It is difficult to say whether this will be the outcome of 2020, Nesmiyan continues.  “By all signs, very little time remains; [and] the powers that be understand this.”  That is reflected in their increasing tendency to focus only on the shortest of short-term issues – nothing beyond 2024 – and ignore deeper and longer-lasting problems and trends.

Muscovites Show Solidarity Only with Highest Profile Political Prisoners, Olshanskaya Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 29 – Unlike other nations like the Ingush, Muscovites seldom show solidarity with any but the highest profile political prisoners, Anastasiya Olshanskaya says. They do not show up at their court hearings, allowing judges to impose sentences in front of empty seats.

            They do not write letters to prisoners, again except the most high-profile, or stage individual pickets which can be conducted without anyone’s approval. They thus ensure that the “lesser” cases will be ignored, and the prisoners themselves forgotten – and still worse feel to be forgotten, the MBK journalist says (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/nastya-olshanskaya-o-z/).

            Olshanskaya says she recently has been going to court a lot, attending the cases of less prominent figures in the protest movement – people like Yevgeny Kovalenko of the Moscow Case who was sentenced to 3.5 years in the camp in a courtroom where most of the seats were empty.

            Muscovites rush to high-profile cases in the hopes that they will see something important happen or even prompt the judges to be lenient, but when you sit in a half-empty courtroom and can do nothing, especially when you believe that if even 20 people had shown up, the prisoner might have been released, you feel destroyed.

            If more people would support the “lesser-known” political prisoners, they too would have a chance, and so if you want to attend a trial, attend one of theirs. There won’t be a crush of people, but by attending you may make all the difference in the world. And if the prisoner is convicted, write him a letter or demonstrate on his behalf.  That matters too.

            Olshanskaya doesn’t mention it, but the Moscow pattern is not true everywhere even in  Russia. It is certainly not true in Belarus or Ukraine, and it is far from the case in Ingushetia where there is an entire network devoted to helping those facing charges and those convicted regardless of how much media attention they receive.

            Where communities show solidarity with those the powers that be are oppressing, everyone except the sloviki benefits. Where they don’t, the only winners are those who don’t deserve to be: those carrying out the repression. The prisoners are only the most obvious of the losers.