Monday, January 20, 2020

Putin Can’t Restore the USSR so He’s Building a Muscovite Tsardom, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 17 – Resistance to any further union with Russia in Belarus and Ukraine is so strong that Vladimir Putin has had to give up, at least for now, any hope to create “a USSR 2.0,” Igor Yakovenko says. Instead, the Kremlin leader is headed in a different direction, toward the restoration of “a Muscovite tsardom.”

            Putin hasn’t been able to attract or intimidate Belarus into a new union state, the Russian commentator says; and “even the most unrestrained believers that ‘Crimea is Ours’ understand that Putin will not be able to swallow Ukraine whole.” Consequently, any plans for a new USSR aren’t now on the table (

            Moreover, the Kremlin leader has been suffering other defeats, small and large, in recent months. Abkhazia has ousted his hand-picked leader. Libyan Field Marshal Halif Haftar has rejected his ideas, and Iranian President Rouhani has shown how genuine statesmen act and admit their mistakes because they want their citizens to trust them, Yakovenko says.   

            As a result, and “not having been able to solve the transition problem with the help of going out into geopolitical space beyond Russia’s borders which as is well known do not end anywhere, Putin has turned to the conduct of ‘Citadel,’ a special operation which seeks to transform Russia into a strengthened fortress.”

            He has arranged for Russia to reject the primacy of international law, to restrict access to positions of authority by anyone with significant connections abroad, and to give him the chance to rule “to the end of his life.”  And an examination of the 75 people on his constitutional reform working group suggest that even more horrific changes may be ahead.

            Among their number are ENikolay Doluda, the all-Russian Cossack Ataman, decorated for his role in Crimea in 2014; two-time Olympic champion Elena Isinbayeva, actor Vladimir Mashkov, and pianist Denis Matsuyeva. They’ve clearly been included to suggest that the group will reflect the population. But others are certain to set the weather.

            And “unfortunately,” these others suggest that Russia’s march away from the contemporary world will not be limited by Putin’s proposals but in fact will go back beyond what Russia’s constitution writers in 1993 tried to put in place, the Russian commentator continues.

            Under particular threat, Yakovenko suggests, is Article 13 of the current constitution which prohibits the creation of a state ideology. Among the working group participants are several, including Mosfilm’s Karen Shakhnazarov, notorious Senator Andrey Klishas, and Academician Taliya Khabriyeva, all of whom support having a state ideology again.

            This means, Yakovenko says, that “a USSR 2.0 is not going to be restored in any form. Instead, it has been decided to build a Muscovite tsardom of the 16th century in the 21st. With all its archaic features, its obscurantism, its tyranny and its [much-ballyhooed] spiritual bonds.”

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