Staunton, Aug. 4 – Russia’s “openly imperialist war” against Ukraine “has raised the question about the future of the aggressor itself” and prompted ever more people to ask what should be done so that some future more liberal leader of the country won’t soon be replaced by yet another aggressive “great power ‘hawk,’” Vadim Shtepa says.
Unfortunately, the editor of the Tallinn-based regionalist portal Region.Expert says, “the Moscow opposition which calls itself ‘Russian’ thinks in exactly the same imperial categories that the Kremlin does.” They view Russia as a state divided between “the mother country,” that is Moscow, and “the provinces,” around it (graniru.org/opinion/m.285645.html).
Such a view of the country inevitably extends to its approach to the world beyond its borders, with a failure to accept decentralization and federalism at home almost inevitably leading to aggression abroad, something that means supposedly liberal “doves” become or are replaced by “hawks” all too quickly.
Only if the opposition drops its ignorance of and opposition to real federalism and sees decentralization not as about economics alone can there be any hope that Russia will not resume its aggressive approach to its neighbors even if a “good tsar” replaces the current “bad” one, Shtepa argues.
If it doesn’t, Russia may indeed disintegrate, not because the regions and republics want that but because those at the center, liberals or imperialists, refuse to recognize them as more than pawns in the hands of Moscow. If the opposition does recognize that, then there is a chance for Russia to federalize and de-imperialize at home and abroad for an instant but permanently.
Tragically, Shtepa says, “the current Russian opposition with its unitarist views is a strange mirror-like reflection of the Kremlin. It is incapable in principle of conceiving the gigantic Russian spaces from the Baltic to the Pacific as a territory of multipolarity and a free union of regions with equal rights.”
That reality has prompted the Forum of Free Nations to begin to talk about “post-Russian history. That term sounds odd up to now, but in 1991, the word ‘post-Soviet’ did in the same way. History continues, but the imperial opposition probably will disappear together with the empire” it defends in much the same way the Kremlin does.