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.”

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