Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Disintegration of Russian Federation Won’t Follow a Single or Simple Path, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 21 – A major reason that the demise of the USSR was relatively easy was that there was widespread agreement both within that former country and among the leaders of foreign powers that the Soviet Union could come apart only on the basis laid down in the Soviet constitution, namely, that the union republics could leave but no one else.

            There is no similar basis for agreement now about the demise of the Russian Federation and no agreement at all as to how it should come apart, and those who are attempting to impose a common matrix for its demise fail to recognize that different parts of the current country have different aspirations for the future, according to Igor Yakovenko (region.expert/projekt/).

            Consequently, the approaching demise of the Russian Federation is likely to be more complicated, have a variety of results, and potentially involve in places the kind of violence that was largely but not completely avoided three decades ago. These things must be acknowledged rather than papered over with some imagined map of the future Eurasia. 

            Yakovenko says that he very much regrets the attacks on  his own position by Vadim Sidorov (region.expert/liberal-idealism/), but a reader can very much regret that his own position is cast as a response rather than an articulation of the broader points involved in thinking about how the Russian Federation will be transformed or disintegrated.

            Anyone who proposes a single Procrustean bed for the parts of the Russian Federation that may become independent countries or form new federal or confederal relations is “in the best case an arrogant dreamer or in the worst a charlatan” who assumes he knows better than people on the ground what they in fact want.

            Instead of projecting some imaginary solution, all the peoples involved need to recognize that each and every one of them singly and collectively need to overcome the burden of imperialism that the Russian state continues to impose on them. How to do that and what a post-imperial arrangement might be are things that people will discover only in the course of events.

            The situation in Belarus is instructive in this regard, Yakovenko says. Among the Belarusian people, there is a universal sense that Lukashenka must go. Belarusians are not now requiring that opposition leaders provide “a detailed plan for the transformation of the country.” That will come only later.

            In the case of Russia, the burden that must be cast off is the imperial system. That is something people in the regions and republics must focus on. For anyone in Moscow to be telling them how things should turn out once that occurs is an act of “intellectual imperialism” even if it is ostensibly opposed to the empire.

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