Saturday, May 26, 2018

New Democratic Congress of Peoples of Russian Federation has Far-Reaching Goals

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 26 – Created to oppose the proposed law making the study of non-Russian languages voluntary, the new Democratic Congress of Peoples of the Russian Federation has a far broader agenda, one that includes “broadening the space of freedom” and promoting federalism, according to political analyst Ruslan Aysin, who participated in its formation. 

            The failure of officials to take the people seriously on key issues, the Tatar expert says, reflects the fact that “representatives of the nomenklatura do not want and cannot hear the voice of reason, the voice of society, the voice of civil society” and appear to have forgotten that “the state’s functions are to satisfy the needs of the population” (

                The Democratic Congress will remind and help them to behave as they should, Aysin suggests.  That is no small challenge. “The elite which has given to itself a monopoly right to act int eh name of the state requires the people to delegate ever more powers to it, but in exchange, it does not want to fulfill that which it must fulfill.”

            To that end, the analyst continues, the new Democratic Congress includes “real people who have the authority and respect in the localities, real people’s deputies in the ream meaning of this term from Sakha, Chukotka, the Middle Volga, the North Caucasus, the center and west of Russia.”

            “The time of simulacra … has passed. Russia carries the adjective ‘Federation,’ that is, unity. And unity is always better than divisions.  However, certain ignorant people are inclined to call unifying processes ‘separatist,’ which has the semantic meaning of ‘to divide.’” For such people, Aysin says, “war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.”

             Those who say they are fighting separatism are in fact promoting “internal separatism” by “segregating languages, dividing the pupils of schools by nationality, and refusing to fulfill constitutional norms and legal demands!” 

            In this situation, he says, “the Congress is forced to take on itself responsibility for the fate of the peoples which it represents for the fate of our common Motherland – as we do not have another one. [And] the need to defend federative principles also stands on the agenda” of the new organization.

            “Russia is fated to be a federalist country.” Efforts to over-centralize in the past led to the collapses of 1917 and 1991.”  Everyone must recognize that “flexibility and the taking account of the interests of all is a precondition of success. By the Constitution, power belongs to the people; taking initiative into our own hands is our direct obligation.”

            “The sleep of reason gives birth to beasts, chimeras and manticores,” Aysin concludes. “Our inaction is our common misfortune.” 

Foreign Intervention Forced Bolsheviks to Make Overly ‘Liberal’ Concessions to Non-Russians, Stalin told Lenin

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 26 – The combination of Moscow’s pressure on the non-Russians and the centenary of the Russian civil war is attracting attention to documents from the past that reveal a great deal about the thinking of Soviet leaders on issues that continue to agitate the leaders and population of the Russian Federation.

            In Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, journalist Mikhail Birin reports that “close to the end of the Civil War, on September 22, 1922, Joseph Stalin sent a letter to Vladimir Lenin declaring that “We have come to a situation when the existing order of relations between the center and the borderlands, i.e., the complete lack of any order and complete chaos, has become intolerable” (

            “Thus, Birin continues, Stalin “demanded an end to ‘games about the independence of the republics … For the four years of the Civil War when we in view of the intervention were forced to demonstrate the liberalism of Moscow on the nationality question, we have raised up communists … who demand real independence in all senses.’”

            Such people, Stalin continued, “’view the interference of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party as deception and hypocrisy on the part of Moscow.’” They must be stopped, and Stalin “insisted on the most rapid possible replacement of formal (fictional) independence by real autonomy.”

            Stalin viewed the proper course as imposing party control over all other institutions of power “both at the center and in the localities – in all oblasts and krays of Soviet Russia and in particular in its young republics,” the Kazan journalist says. He sent his own people there, replacing many quickly who proved unable to impose Moscow’s will.

            It does not require much imagination to extrapolate Stalin’s judgment on the sources of Moscow’s concessionary policy to the non-Russians in the first years of power and on his need to change it once that pressure was reduce to Vladimir Putin’s on the sources of post-Soviet Russia’s handling of the non-Russian republics after 1991 and his approach since 2000.

West Should Speak Out on Behalf of Russian Dissenters as It Did in Soviet Times, Sobol Says

Paul Goble     

            Staunton, May 26 – In the last three weeks, Vladimir Putin has launched an unprecedented attack on dissent in Russia in part to take revenge against Aleksey Navalny for spoiling Putin’s inaugural and in part to block any protests against the Kremlin leader during the upcoming World Cup, Lyubov Sobol of the Foundation for the Struggle with Corruption says.

            The lawyer activist says that she does not remember a crackdown against dissent of the size and scope of the one going on now, a crackdown that gives the lie to Putin’s recent statement about the need for more openness, tolerance of dissent, and freedom in Russian society (

            “It seems to me,” she tells Danila Galperovich of Ekho Russia, that Putin is acting to take revenge against those he feels spoiled his “personal holiday,” the inauguration, as well as to ensure that no Russian opposition figure will be in a position to spoil the World Cup competition in which Putin has placed so much importance.

            Sobol says that “it is difficult to say how serious this campaign is and what will happen next.”   As a result, “we are prepared for everything. After all, we live in Russia, and we do not have ‘any rose-colored glasses.’”

            Further, she says, “we understand that the less stable Putin’s regime becomes and the more people go out into the streets and raise correct and uncomfortable questions of the authorities, the stronger the powers will resist and attempt in some way to take their revenge on people” who act in ways they view as threatening.  “We are ready for this” too.

            Russia’s dissidents now have no confidence in the country’s judicial system. Its courts do not have much in common with real courts; and therefore, they place their homes in the European Court of Human Rights to which they will appeal after all their options inside Russia are exhausted.

            But at the same time, they would appreciate the support that Soviet-era dissidents received from Western governments. Asked about this by Galperovich, Sobol says that she and her colleagues would be glad to receive such support but that it is “a difficult question” as to whether it will be forthcoming.

             The West should reflect on the fact, she suggests, that “in fact little restrains the current powers that be [in Moscow] from moving toward even more serious pressure and more serious repressions. Therefore, any campaign which would insist on human rights, naturally would very much help.”