Friday, July 21, 2017

Crimean Residents, Russians Increasingly Hostile and at Odds, Political Scientist Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 21 – Even Crimean residents who initially welcomed the Russian Anschluss are now disappointed with the occupation and angry at Russians for their behavior, and the Russians there, long-time residents new arrivals and tourists, are reciprocating with anger at the local population, according to Yevgeniya Goryunova, a Crimean political scientist.

            She points to five socio-economic conditions behind this deterioration between Crimean residents and Russians and devotes particular attention to the way in which Russian tourists, the only ones who now come to the Ukrainian peninsula, have exacerbated the situation by their behavior (ru.krymr.com/a/28630119.html).

            First of all, Goryunova points to the increasing difficulty indigenous Crimeans have in making ends meet. On the one hand, they find it difficult to get well-paying jobs unless they have connections and typically lose out to Russians. And on the other, the Russians who are paid more have driven up the rental prices beyond what most Crimeans can afford.

            Second, she continues, Russian bosses prefer to hire people other than Crimeans because the latter are more knowledgeable about their rights than are Central Asian gastarbeiters and complain when those rights are violated.  Consequently, the Crimeans are in a double bind because most new Russian employers would rather hire others.

            Third, the occupation authorities have done almost everything in their power to destroy indigenous business and agriculture, preferring to import from Russia all kinds of goods. Now, instead of getting milk from a Crimean firm that was driven into bankruptcy, Crimean children are getting milk, often adulterated, from the Russian Federation.

            Indeed, Goryunova says, “the Russian authorities are conducting an intention policy of destroying Crimean business, including small business by removing not only competitors but also the first flowering of a middle class which in Russia for centuries has been viewed as consisting of ‘superfluous people.’”

            Fourth, Crimeans face discrimination when they try to register their children for kindergartens or schools. Russians who have arrived with the occupation are given preferential treatment, and Crimeans are left out. That is drawing increasing and increasingly negative comment, the political scientist says.

            And fifth, when their rights are violated, Crimeans are quite prepared to turn to the courts or to magistrates; but when they do, they typically lose because the courts work not according to the law but rather according to the whim of the powers that be. 

            A particular irritant in the relationship, Goryunova says, concerns the Russian tourists who now dominate the scene.  They are invariably cheap, they won’t use paid public toilets preferring instead to relieve themselves in the bushes, and they throw trash about even if there is a barrel to put it in.

            Any Crimean who complains about such behavior is met with “a tirade” by Russians who say that he or she should be grateful forever to the Russians for “’liberating’ Crimea from ‘the Ukrainian yoke.’”  In short, “Russians act like masters, and Crimeans are reduced to the status of guests son their own land” from which “at any moment” they may be forced to leave.

            “No one needs us in Russia,” one of Goryunova’s neighbors says.  “Why then did they take us? In order then to drive us out of our own home.”  The recognition of what Moscow is about in Crimea may have come later than one would like, the political scientist adds, but at least it is coming now.

Putin: Non-Russians Must Learn Russian But Russians Mustn’t be Forced to Learn Republic Languages



Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 21 – “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm. Now, Vladimir Putin has applied this to Russia by saying that all non-Russians must learn Russian but that no ethnic Russian must be compelled to learn a republic language even if he or she lives in a non-Russian republic.

            Such comments are music to the ears of Russian nationalists, but this asymmetric approach is highly offensive to many non-Russians, who are quite prepared to learn Russian but who believe that those who live among them on the territories where they are the titular nationality should learn their languages as well.

            By coming down in this way, the Kremlin leader has guaranteed that the divide between Russians and non-Russians in the republics will deepen, that nationalist passions on both sides will intensify, and that more conflicts will arise as both sides see this move as another step to the liquidation of the non-Russian republics and what’s left of Russian federalism.

                At a session of the Presidential Council on Inter-Ethnic Issues yesterday in the Mari El capital of Ioshkar-Ola, Putin made three pronouncements on ethnic relations: the first on the difference in status between Russian and non-Russian languages, the second on ethno-tourism, and the third on who should be running nationality policy (business-gazeta.ru/article/352146).
            First of all, Putin told the group that “Russian language forus is the state language, the language of inter-ethnic communication, and it cannot be replaced by anything else. It is the natural spiritual skeleton of all our multi-national country. Everyone msut know it … The languages of the peoples of Russia are also an inalienable aspect of the unique culture of the peoples of Russia.”
            But their status is very different, the president continued. Not only are they part not of the state as Russian is but only of the peoples who bear them, studying them is “a right guaranteed by the constitution” but it is “a voluntary right,” not an obligatory one. “To force someone to study a language which is not his native tongue is impermissible.”
            Indeed, it is “just as impermissible as reducing the level of instruction in Russia. I call the heads of the regions of the Russian Federation to devote particular attention to this.” That is, to any cutbacks in the number of hours of Russian language instruction in favor of required courses in other languages.
            Second, Putin, like many leaders of a multi-national state in which one ethnic community is dominant, reduces the ethnic issue to one of festivals and tourism; and yesterday, he talked about the need for “branding” the regions and republics so that they could attract more tourists and be better known to others. He did not mention anything about strengthening them.

                Specifically, Putin said that “the development and popularization by municipalities of ethno-cultural brands” is critical because Russia “is unique in the multiplicity of its nature and national traditions.” But unfortunately, “access to their study is limited not only by insufficient infrastructure but by the lack of initiative at the local level.”

            And third, Putin talked about the extraterritorial national communities, about municipalities, and about his plenipotentiaries to the regions. He did not talk about the non-Russian republics, a silence that spoke more loudly than any of his declarations about where he plans to go next.


            But it has also generated a lot of negative reaction as well from non-Russians who can see the handwriting on the wall and have turned to the Internet to share their concerns. For reviews of their comments, see turantoday.com/2017/07/russia-republics-indigenous-languages.html, idelreal.org/a/sotsseti-o-viskazivanii-putina-pro-russkiy-yazik/28630274.html and idelreal.org/a/reaction-tatarstana-na-slova-putina-o-russkom-yazike/28630471.html.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Free Russia Forum Outlines What a Post-Putin Russia Must Do to Rejoin Civilized World



Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – The Free Russia Forum, a group of opposition politicians and analysts, says that a post-Putin Russia can only rejoin the civilized world if it operates under the principles of the primacy of law in all spheres of life.  Otherwise, it will be “impossible” to build a law-based state and rejoin the civilized world.

            In an appeal released on Tuesday and signed by among others Gary Kasparov, Vladislav Inozemtsev, Aleksandr Morozov, Andrey Piontkovsky, Igor Eidman, Igor Chubais and Andrey Illarionov, the authors outline a checklist that represents at the same time an indictment of the Putin regime (forumfreerussia.org/article.asp?aid=1779 and echo.msk.ru/blog/aillar/2021882-echo/).
                A post-Putin Russia will need to take the following foreign policy steps in order to become again part of the civilized, law-based world, they say:


  • “Immediately end military aggression against sovereign states and withdraw units of the Russian armed forces from all occupied territories” in Georgia and Ukraine “according to the norms of international law.”



  • “Immediately end military, financial, diplomatic and other support to separatist forces and movements operating on the territory of foreign states, including states of the former Soviet Union.”



  • “Recognize as legally nullified all acts connected with the seizure from Ukraine and the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the recognition of ‘statehood’ of the so-called ‘Republic of Abkhazia’ and ‘Republic of South Ossetia’ and also with the informal legitimation of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics.’”



  • “Hold criminally responsible all persons guilty of the commission of military crimes on these territories.”



  • “Introduce into the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation provisions defining punishment for the interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and their active preparation.”


            The authors say that “we are convinced that the deconstruction of the political regime which has existed in Russia without the fulfillment of these demands is impossible” and “invite all who consider the existence of the Putin regime fatal for Russia and shameful for its citizens and who seek to offer a worthy alternative to join in support of this declaration.”