Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Moscow’s Charges about Western Interest in Regions Highlight Its Own Worries

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 28 – It is longstanding Russian practice to point to Western interest in or involvement with issues within the borders of the Russian Federation that in fact Moscow officials themselves are worried about but cannot easily discuss openly lest they appear to be overly alarmist or be forced to accept part of the blame.

            Consequently, it is worthwhile to attend to such remarks even if they are not true on their face, always keeping in mind that discussing such issues in terms of supposed Western interest or involvement has the additional virtue for such officials in Russian security agencies because it is a surefire way to gain more resources from the Kremlin for their own work.

            Speaking in Kazan, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said that the Western intelligence community is studying “scenarios for possible military conflicts in various regions of Russia,” including the republics of the Middle Volga (ria.ru/20190128/1550014611.html and idelreal.org/a/29735660.html).

            That means, he continued, that officials must both display heightened vigilance to all threats to public order in the region and view threats they have long considered such as Islamist terrorism “through a different prism,” recognizing that what they had thought of as a trend in and of itself may be part of something larger.

            Among these developments, he suggested, is the influx of migrant workers from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who, while they generally obey in a law-abiding fashion, nonetheless can destabilize the situation because of their numbers and the reaction of others to them (ria.ru/20190128/1550012988.html).

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