Bulletin 5:27 (2011)
- THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 5, No. 27(148), 5 October 2011
Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland
I NEWS: 16 - 30 September 2011
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
III ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS
[NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear.]
I NEWS: 16 - 30 September 2011
Pro-Russia party seeks share of power in Latvia
Reuters, September 19, 2011
RIGA - Latvia's pro-Russian party launched a bid on Monday for a place in government for the first time in the Baltic state's post-Soviet period, but suspicions it hopes to steer policy towards Moscow could stem any chance of coalition membership.
The Harmony Centre party, traditionally supported by Latvia's large Russian minority, is due to meet the two centre-right Latvian parties leading coalition talks after winning the most votes in a weekend poll.
But its goal of easing the ruling centre-right's austerity measures and improving ties with eastern neighbour Russia could make the talks difficult.
"Harmony Centre is for me at the moment a complete dark horse," said former President Valdis Zatlers, whose party came second in the election.
If Harmony realises its goal of being in a coalition, it could help Russia increase its influence in the NATO member and EU state, which has not had a party catering to its Russian minority in government since it regained independence in 1991.
Zatlers, who forced the snap election less than a year after the last vote by dissolving parliament in a fight against corruption, told a news programme the meeting would be the first time Harmony had ever been involved in serious government talks.
Harmony would later meet the Unity Party of Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who led tough austerity measures during an international bailout and says his policies helped Latvia recover from an 18 percent output drop in 2009.
Zatlers and Dombrovskis, seen as natural allies, jointly have 42 seats in the 100-seat parliament to Harmony's 31 and need a third partner for a majority. That could be Harmony, or a nationalist bloc, which has 14 seats.
Before the vote, Harmony backed more social welfare spending and is reluctant about moving to the euro. Zatlers and Dombrovskis back euro adoption in 2014 and want to pursue further fiscal austerity to reach that goal. Harmony leader Nils Usakov, 35, the mayor of capital city Riga, told Dienas Bizness newspaper that Latvia should only try to meet the economic criteria to adopt the euro in 2013. That would mean its launch in 2015 at the earliest.
He also backed a referendum, with polls currently showing little support for the euro.
Usakov's bid to share power could get a boost from a report that Harmony could have received support from 15 percent of ethnic Latvian voters -- showing the party had widened its appeal from its traditional base of Russian-speaking people.
The data, reported in a daily newspaper, have yet to be confirmed by other experts. Harmony's number of votes rose only slightly from the last ballot in October 2010. It won two more seats.
Latvian parties also have to overcome suspicion of Russian influence and disagreement over the Soviet period, which many ethnic Latvians see as a period of illegal occupation.
Usakov has seemed to soften his stance on such questions, saying he was not allergic to the word occupation, though he rejected seeing Soviet-era Russian-speakers as "occupants".
About a third of the 2.2 million population are Russian speakers and just over half of them have the right to vote.
If Harmony is eventually left out of the coalition, Zatlers and Dombrovskis could turn to the nationalist All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom-LNNK to form a majority.
It doubled its parliament presence to 14 seats. But some of its members are also seen as too ultra-nationalist.
President Andris Berzinsh is responsible for nominating the prime minister. He has said he will only do that after Sept. 28, when he returns from a trip to the United Nations in New York, giving parties time to agree on a coalition.
Zatlers dissolved parliament after lawmakers, including Harmony Centre, refused permission for prosecutors to search a flat owned by a businessman, who was a member of the old parliament and one of three men labelled as oligarchs.
Two of the three "oligarchs", who deny any wrongdoing, lost their places in parliament, while a farmers' party spearheaded by the third had its representation cut to 13 seats from 22.
Poll: Obama losing his popularity in Russia
Interfax-Ukraine, September 22, 2011
Moscow - An improvement of Russia-U.S. relations that the Russians linked to the U.S. President Barack Obama administration has become less apparent, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said, commenting on a September poll.
Forty-six percent of the respondents said in 2010 that the Obama victory in the presidential election improved the bilateral relations; the indicator declined to 34% in 2011. At present, 49% of the respondent say there is no change in the bilateral relations. The opinion was voiced by 38% of the respondents a year ago.
The number of respondents declaring problems in Russia-U.S. relations has grown from 3% to 9%. Most of the respondents who say the relations have not changed are supporters of the Russian Communist party (55%) and persons aged from 45 through 59 (53%). Positive changes are mostly affirmed by supporters of United Russia (39%) and A Just Russia (38%) and people aged from 18 to 24 (39%).
The number of people who like and respect Obama is down from 29% to 22%. Meanwhile, the number of those who say that the U.S. needs a different president is up, from 6% to 16%. Another 39% said they did not quite like Obama, but respected the choice of the American people. Twenty-three percent of the respondents failed to answer the question.
As for the most pressing problems in the bilateral relations, the respondents mentioned economics (8%), disagreements over missile defense and arms race (5%), 'America's aspiration for global domination' (4%), U.S. military operations in the Middle East (4%), strategic issues (2%), NATO enlargement, the nuclear threat and the conflict with Georgia (1%).
The respondents also declared problems in the preservation of bilateral peace (2%), the development of natural resources (2%), the Russian dependence on the U.S. and the counter terrorism fight (1%).
Sixty percent failed to name any particular problems in Russia-U.S. relations, the Center said.
Four Moscow gay organizations denied registration
Interfax-Religion, September 27, 2011
Moscow, September 27, Interfax - The Russian Justice Ministry's Main Directorate for Moscow has denied registration to four public organizations set up by activists from the Russian gay community.
"The authorities continue their arbitrariness by denying us registration under any contrived pretexts," one of the co-founders of the new organizations, Nikolay Alexeyev, wrote on his blog.
Unlike their colleagues in St. Petersburg, Moscow justice officials have registered not a single public organization of sexual minorities, he said.
"The impression is that Moscow and St. Petersburg are the cities located in various countries. There is no united legal space in Russia," he said.
The Justice Ministry's decisions were made with respect to the Harvey Milk Society, Sport Without Homophobia, Article 282 and the Committee of the International Day Against Homophobia.
The ministry said the submitted documents do not comply with the Russian law.
"We intend to rectify the faults which were indicated to us and to re-apply for registration of these organizations. If we fail for the second time, we will go to courts and will be ready to take all cases to the European Court of Human Rights," Alexeyev said.
The Justice Ministry's Moscow Directorate was not immediately available for comment on this matter.
Putin's Kremlin return to cloud Russia-US ties
Reuters, September 27, 2011
MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin's decision to return to the Kremlin will strain Russia's fragile relations with the United States, threatening to undermine improvements he helped engineer by steering Dmitry Medvedev into the presidency in 2008.
Putin's plan to reclaim the top office from his protege in a March 2012 election will remove Medvedev, who has played a vital role in a "reset" of long-strained ties, from centre stage in the relationship with Moscow's former Cold War foe.
Putin, who is virtually certain to win a six-year presidential term and could run again in 2018, would take his place as chief interlocutor for U.S. President Barack Obama.
"That changes the atmospherics overnight," said Samuel Charap, director for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think-tank.
"You could not have Putin and Obama, jackets slung over shoulders, walking together from the White House to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," he said.
A tech-savvy product of the generation that grew up as cracks opened the Soviet Union to Western influence, Medvedev, 46, toured Silicon Valley and chatted with Obama over cheeseburgers during a U.S. visit last year.
Putin, 58, is a former KGB officer who has carried the baggage of that background into relations with the Soviet Union's enemy, often accusing the United States of seeking to undermine Russia.
Ties soured badly during Putin's eight-year presidency and hit a post-Soviet low when Russian tanks rolled into NATO aspirant Georgia three months after Medvedev took office.
Relations have marched mostly uphill from there: Medvedev has warmly embraced Obama's push to improve ties, forged a friendly rapport with the U.S. president and signed a landmark nuclear arms control deal with him last year.
Medvedev has also brought the Kremlin closer to Washington on Iran, supporting new United Nations sanctions and banning the delivery of air-defence missiles to Tehran. During his term, Russia has stepped up logistical support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Russian and U.S. officials have said Putin's return will not throw the "reset" off track. On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: "Putin in his current role has been a part of those discussions and cooperation."
Putin has remained Russia's paramount leader, and courting the United States seems to have been part his brief to Medvedev, so Charap said there was "no reason to believe there will be a radical shift in Russian policy" towards the United States.
"There will not be a rollback of the major accomplishments of the reset," said Matthew Rojansky, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
But in a relationship where signals and symbolism have spoken loudly since the propaganda-filled era of the Cold War, analysts say the Russian leadership change could make it much harder to agree on further cooperation.
"They may hold the same position, but Putin's style is very different from Medvedev's -- it's more confrontational, more combative and aggressive," said Fiona Hill, a Russia expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
If Putin sets the tone in the top-down system he has laboured to maintain, "it becomes a different diplomatic game."
The road towards agreement on the divisive issue of missile defence may get even rougher, said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, and the chances of forging further nuclear arms cuts may also diminish.
It was Obama who launched the "reset", early in his term, but Medvedev has embraced it avidly.
By many accounts, Putin's wariness toward Washington is steeped in feelings of betrayal: expecting a breakthrough in ties after he reached out to support the United States following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he watched instead as Washington scrapped a anti-missile treaty and NATO expanded eastward.
"I think those wounds haven't fully healed," said Charap.
In his term as president and prime minister, Putin has made his frustration with America amply clear with words and body language, and sometimes both.
At a conference in Munich in 2007, Putin unleashed a barrage of long-festering complaints about U.S. behaviour he warned was undermining global security.
Ties have improved since then, but sometimes it seems like Putin's sense of diplomacy has not.
Meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his residence outside Moscow one evening in March 2010, Putin lounged in a chair and launched a tirade on the state of commercial ties with the United States.
This July, Putin said the United States was "acting like hooligans" in the global economy. In August, he told pro-Kremlin youth group at a lakeside summer camp that the United States was living beyond its means "like a parasite".
Putin's concerns about the United States are far from a one-way street.
His decision to return to the Kremlin and make Medvedev prime minister, a job swap the pair announced on Saturday, will deepen U.S. doubts about Russian democracy and give Obama's Republican opponents fodder for criticism of the "reset".
"In U.S. domestic politics, Putin is toxic," Charap said.
"Because he is seen as the embodiment of everything that's wrong with Russia, especially on Capitol Hill, that will make things difficult" in cases when Congress has a say on Russia policy, he said.
That could muddy the waters at the confirmation hearing for Obama's choice as the next ambassador to Moscow -- his top Russia adviser, Michael McFaul -- and in discussions related to Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, he said.
If criticism of the Kremlin grows louder in Washington as the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, that will raise hackles back in Moscow and further cloud chances for progress on issues such as Russia's WTO bid.
The biggest visible rift in Russia's ruling tandem opened up after Medvedev let NATO intervene in Libya by abstaining in a vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution last March.
Putin likened the resolution to "medieval calls for crusades", drawing a rare public rebuke from Medvedev and suggesting that Russia might have vetoed it had he been president.
Putin and Medvedev have since closed ranks on the unrest in the Arab world, with Medvedev the Foreign Ministry thwarting Western efforts to adopt a resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his crackdown on protesters.
Several analysts said they did not expect Putin to halt support on Afghanistan or lower the current level of pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.
Putin is unlikely to step up cooperation with Iran unless the United States moves to flex its muscles more in Russia's neighborhood or otherwise angers the Kremlin, Lukyanov said.
"On the whole I don't think there will be serious changes in foreign policy, for the simple reason that Medvedev's position has been the position of the tandem," he said.
Lithuanian premier: Reset with Russia best forgotten
Associated Press, September 28, 2011
VILNIUS, Lithuania - Russia's decision on its leadership change next year has effectively buried any hopes of a renewal of relations with the West, Lithuania's prime minister said on Tuesday. "No one should have illusions about how Russia will be ruled for decades to come," Andrius Kubilius told Lithuanian Radio.
Lithuania is among Russia's harshest critics in the European Union and NATO. On Saturday, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced he had decided to reclaim the presidency next year, setting up the possibility that he could rule Russia until 2024. If he wins the March 4 election - a near-certainty given his popularity and mastery of Russia's political system - Putin will return to a presidency even more powerful than when he left. In 2012, the presidential term will be extended to six years from four; he would be eligible to serve two terms and just a few weeks shy of turning 59, the avid martial-arts fan's health appears robust.
In nominating Putin, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that President Dmitry Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister, the No. 2 government position.
"All the restart policies or renewal of relations should now be locked in a deep drawer with a simple note attached: 'Here rests expired and naive dreams'," Kubilius added.
The Lithuanian leader went on to say Putin's decision was not a surprise.
"But it probably surprised someone somewhere in Berlin, Brussels or Washington, where those illusions were alive as some expected Russia would turn into a modern state. Those illusions are over," Kubilius said.
Lithuania, a country of 3 million people which for a half-century after World War II was a Soviet republic governed from Moscow, has most recently locked horns with Russia over natural gas prices.
It currently receives 100 percent of its gas from Russia and believes it is paying too much. It has been attempting to negotiate a lower price with Moscow, so far unsuccessfully.
Kubilius' conservative government irked Russia earlier this by using a EU rule that allows member states to split companies that supply and transport natural gas - a direct blow to Russia's state-run Gazprom, which owns 37.1 percent of Lithuania's main gas company, Lietuvos Dujos.
Rogozin plans to voice complaints at Russia-NATO session
Interfax-Ukraine, September 28, 2011
Brussels - Moscow's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin plans to make an announcement about talks between Russia and the alliance addressing European missile defense plans at a session of the Russia-NATO Council at the level of ambassadors on Wednesday.
At the session "[NATO] Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen plans to outline NATO's vision of the course of missile defense negotiations between Russia and the U.S., as well as between Russia and the alliance," Rogozin told Interfax.
"Consequently, I will also make an announcement. In particular, I will express certain complaints in relation to our partners that emerged during recent talks," he said.
"One needs to remember that this conversation will take place ahead of a meeting of the defense ministers of the alliance's member states in Brussels, as well as prior to a Russian-American meeting at the highest level between Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, who are also expected to address the problem of missile defense in light of preparations for a possible Russia-NATO summit," the Russian diplomat said.
Rogozin said that on the day of the Russia-NATO Council's session, he would also hold a series of meetings with his counterparts from different countries as a follow-up to his recent visits to several NATO member countries and meetings with these countries' political and military leadership.
On Wednesday evening, Rogozin will leave for Lisbon, where he will hold consultations with Portugal's president, foreign minister and senior military officials on Thursday.
No truth behind Russian-Iran missile shield - NATO envoy
RIA Novosti, September 30, 2011
Russia's envoy to NATO on Friday dismissed as "false" media reports that Russia and Iran planned to set up a joint missile defense shield as a counterweight to a similar system planned by NATO in Europe. "I read such an article in an Iranian paper. But it's false," Rogozin told the Rossiya-24 TV channel. "We can only hold talks on such a sensitive issue that relates to our strategic security and national nuclear forces with our military allies. The member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are our allies," he went on. "With all due respect to Iran, this country is our neighbor, our partner in many issues, but not a military ally." Bucharest announced on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with the United States to deploy a U.S. missile interceptor system at a defunct Soviet airbase on its territory. Moscow issued an urgent request for legal guarantees from the United States that the system will not target Russia's strategic nuclear forces. Russia has retained staunch opposition to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.
Nationalists to Hold Anti-Migrant Rally on Saturday
The Moscow Times , 30 September 2011
A group of Russian nationalists is to hold an anti-migrant rally on Saturday as a part of a new campaign titled "Stop Feeding the Caucasus." Two nationalist movements - the Russian Civil Union and Russian Public Movement, which have united as the Russian Platform - announced Wednesday that they were launching the campaign to protest the government's economic policy toward the North Caucasus republics, the organization said in a statement. "Financing of the aggressive Caucasus is held at the expense of the Russian regions that are peaceful and obedient to the law," the statement said, calling on the government to reduce financial support for the Caucasus republics. Meanwhile, Kommersant reported Thursday that the Finance Ministry plans to reduce budget spending in the North Caucasus from 17,700 rubles ($553) to 11,900 ($371) per capita, while the biggest subsidies will be for the Sakha republic, with 50,000 rubles ($1,500) per capita because of the tough weather conditions in the Far North.
Racism and Xenophobia in September 2011
SOVA Center, 05 October 2011
One individual, a native of Tajikistan, was killed in the Moscow Region this month. In all, 16 people have been killed in racist violence since the beginning of this year, with 90 others injured and seven people receiving death threats. The attacks were recorded in 25 regions of Russia, with Moscow (seven killed, 19 injured) remaining the main center of violence; other problem areas include the greater Moscow Region (four killed, seven injured) and St. Petersburg (three killed, 22 injured). The main targets of violence continue to be natives of the Central Asian republics (nine killed, 19 injured), members and representatives of leftist youth groups (16 injured), members and representative of various non-Orthodox religious groups (16 injured), natives of the Caucasus (six killed, nine injured), and people of African descent (12 attacked).
This month also saw no fewer than nine acts of neo-Nazi vandalism. The main targets of attack were Protestant objects and buildings, buildings associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses (in four cases), Eastern Orthodox sites (two cases), and Muslim sites (one case.). As such, year-to-date, we have recorded at least 61 acts of xenophobic vandalism in 26 regions of the country.
Three September 2011 convictions of racist violence accounted for the hate motive; they were heard in the Astrakhan, Irkutsk, and Nizhny Novgorod regions. Seven people were convicted to various prison terms. The two most significant rulings regarded neo-Nazi gangs in Nizhny Novgorod and Irkutsk, with the latter convicting well-known neo-Nazi Evgeny Panov ("Boomer"), who has been convicted of violent, hate-motivated crimes on numerous occasions in the past.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 43 convictions for crimes of racist violence have accounted for the hate motive. Such cases have convicted 165 people in 25 regions of the Russian Federation: eight received life imprisonment; 92, various prison terms; 53, suspended sentences; two to hard labor and one detention in a disciplinary unit of the Army. Nine were exempt from punishment and two were acquitted.
Another four sentences were given this month in cases treating acts of xenophobic propaganda. Four people received sentences, in the Astrakhan, Saratov and Tyumen regions and the Komi Republic. As such, 51 sentences for xenophobic propaganda have been imposed on 55 individuals in 34 regions of the country so far this year.
In regards to convictions stemming from the organization of an extremist group, the leader of the Northern Brotherhood, Anton Mukhachev ("Fly"), was sentenced to nine years in prison in a closed trial. This is the third such sentence this year, the others being the August conviction of another Northern Brotherhood leader, Oleg Troshkin, and the sentencing of the Protvino branch of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) leader based on a decision that referred to the article barring the organization of an extremist group.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice, on September 14 and 26; entries 967 through 979 were added. The new entries contain anti-Semitic books from the publishing houses "Russkaya Pravda," "Russki Vestnik" and "Vityaz." Other new additions include well-known far-right pamphlets entitled "Grin" and "The Smell of Death," as well as the website of the National Bolshevik Party, Jehovah's Witnesses texts, and a previously-banned book entitled "The Slavic Veda." The entries are riddled with typographical errors.
The Federal List of Extremist Organizations now includes 26 groups due to the addition of the "Old Russian Church of Orthodox Old Believer-Inglists," a relatively new pseudo-pagan religious movement. The group was deemed extremist in a decision by the Maykop District Court of the Republic of Adygea in December 2008, and is now included in the list on the website of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. The list does not include groups that have been deemed terrorist.
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Is Multiculturalism Bad for Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov, Contributors: Vladimir Belaeff, Elena Miskova
Russia Profile, September 16, 2011
President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that ethnic tensions are rising in Russia, but cracking down too hard would undermine stability. Medvedev was addressing the Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum, where he looked into the requirements for a modern state in the age of social and cultural diversity. Is multiculturalism bad for Russia? Is the mounting conflict between ethnic Russians and Caucasians threatening Russian statehood and its territorial integrity? Is there a way to preserve the North Caucasus as part of Russia in the long run?
Medvedev's basic message is that in the age of globalization, the Internet and the explosion of social media, more and more people of different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, religious beliefs and behavioral norms will be thrown together, within the borders of traditional nation states. This creates a challenge for democratic governance that the leaders of the 21st century will have to address, by making the government more nimble, more sophisticated and more complex, in order to be able to hear and respond to diverse but legitimate grievances on behalf of all social and ethnic groups.
Medvedev sees this as a particularly acute problem for Russia. "This is a very important issue for our country. The Russian Federation is an example of unique social, cultural and political diversity. We forget it in our day-to-day lives, even those of us living in Russia, but we must remember this. We have 180 peoples and ethnic groups living our country, and in addition to our regions and territories, Russia has autonomous areas and republics. We are a multi-faith nation, in the fullest sense of the word. Unfortunately, interethnic tension is spreading to more and more places. Domestic migration is mainly flowing from the south to the north. Many of our citizens from the Caucasus are moving to places traditionally inhabited by ethnic Russians, while the ethnic Russian population in the Caucasus republics is gradually declining. This is leading to negative consequences: ethnic and cultural closed-mindedness in some regions, and the emergence of ethnic tensions in other regions. Poverty is becoming a powerful catalyst for interethnic conflicts. In particular, xenophobia and intolerance are spreading most rapidly among the poorest social groups, as in the rest of the world," he said.
But Medvedev's answers do not meet these challenges. He did not venture much beyond the standard fare of enforcing the rule of law and the equality of individual rights. "Everyone must certainly adhere to the law, the basic norms of behavior, and be respectful of other people's customs. Anyone who commits a crime or does not adhere to these principles when moving to a new location must be punished. The same applies to those who infringe on the rights of minorities," he said.
Although he did not specifically endorse the European concept of multiculturalism or "multikulti," as it is derisively called by critics in Russia, he came very close to saying that this is the way for Russia to curb mounting ethnic tensions. "But ensuring law and order cannot serve as cause for discriminating against members of minority or majority groups on the basis of ethnicity. All of Russia's ethnic cultures must develop independently, and each citizen must have the opportunity to live where he or she wants, in any region. Otherwise, we will not have a unified nation. And we must understand this," Medvedev said.
This is exactly something Medvedev's Envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin took issue with, as he lambasted "multikulti" in his speech at the same forum in Yaroslavl. Rogozin argued that the policy of ethnic tolerance and multiculturalism has failed spectacularly in Europe as a means of integrating immigrants from Africa and the Arab world into modern European culture. On the contrary, it breeds cultural segregation, as immigrants seek to establish their own closed communities in major European cities.
He further argued that for Russia, the problem is much worse, as the ethnic and cultural fault line falls not between Russians and foreign-born immigrants (although in Rogozin's view, some immigrant ethnic groups enjoy a "privileged status"), but between ethnic Russians and the inhabitants of the Russian North Caucasus. He cites an opinion survey that says some 50 to 75 percent of Russians favor separating all or parts of the North Caucasus from Russia.
Rogozin believes that the problem lies in the privileged status that some ethnic republics, particularly in the North Caucasus, enjoy as part of the Russian Federation, making them "more equal than the Russian Slavic regions." In fact, Rogozin claims that certain ethnic republics, such as Chechnya, are nothing less than legal offshore zones, where Russian law does not apply, while ethnic and religious ties substitute for the rule of law. This results, Rogozin claims, in the gross disrespect and disregard that the inhabitants of the North Caucasus show to ethnic Russians and Russian cultural norms as they move to major Russian metropolitan areas. He says that ethnic Russians will not tolerate their unequal status and will demand justice in a forceful way, as the nationalist riots in central Moscow showed last year.
Rogozin's proposals to deal with the problem are not radical, either - equal justice under the law for all citizens, elimination of legal offshore zones in Chechnya and elsewhere, a national dialogue on ethnic and intercultural issues, promotion of Russian culture as a foundation for building Russian civilization and a modern Russian state. These convey, however, a sense that Rogozin may be raising the exact issue that everyone in the Russian elite knows is important, but is afraid to talk about in free political discourse.
Is " multikulti" bad for Russia? Who seems to be more on the money on Russia's interethnic problems: Medvedev or Rogozin? Who provides a better answer to a rise in ethnic tensions within the Russian society between ethnic Russians and the minorities of the North Caucasus? Is the mounting conflict between Russians and Caucasians threatening Russian statehood and its territorial integrity? Is there a way to preserve the North Caucasus as part of Russia in the long run?
Elena Miskova, Managing Partner, LEFF Group Public Relations, Moscow
Criticism of multiculturalism is gathering steam. What do Europeans find wrong with this concept, having practiced it for many years? Mostly, they find fault with boundless tolerance - a direct consequence of cultural relativism.
Cultural relativism used to be a form of repentance on the part of colonial nations toward their former colonies. It posited that all cultures are equal, all deserve respect and tolerance toward even the most exotic and shocking cultural norms, habits and traditions.
When Europe was swamped with immigrants from Africa and Asia, the Europeans sought to "culturalize" them through the same methods - by their interests and affinities. While granting maximum space for their indigenous cultures, the Europeans have sought to limit their practice to performance and entourage. The Europeans thought that they would exchange their own "orientalism" for the goodwill and hard-working habits of the immigrant workers. Everything went smoothly, until the system broke down.
While repenting, both ritually and sincerely, for their colonialism, the Europeans nevertheless had no intention of ceding their own cultural and social positions, especially, their social institutions and norms, since it's the social institutions that form the centuries-old framework of European culture. While accepting and even promoting tribalism in their former colonies, they were less than prepared to import it to their home countries along with immigrants from the former colonies.
Nevertheless, tribalism got into Europe and began to gain strength, feeding on the immigrants' revulsion toward European culture, its institutions and cultural norms, which required great effort to accept, or feeding on the contempt and protest against the phony practices of ritual tolerance. That Europeans will certainly rebuff and repel the onslaught of clannish and tribal secularism against their social unity is obvious. Less apparent is the form this process will take, but it is merely a matter of time.
But why Russian nationalists, led by Rogozin, are gloating over the demise of multiculturalism is beyond comprehension. Sure, its "collapse" is a pretext for a crusade against permissiveness toward immigrants' behavior in Russia. But the "crusade" is also absolutely ritual and imitational. Well-fed Russian nationalists are incapable of extremist behavior. All they can do is pompously pontificate on their inaccurate reading of Russian history. For instance, at the Yaroslavl Forum, Rogozin said that under former Russian President Boris Yeltsin former Soviet national autonomies within the Russian Federation had been granted a special "national status" with special rights and privileges, compared to ethnically Russian regions. Rogozin, apparently, is unaware that the Bolsheviks granted the ethnic Soviet republics a broad special status with at least a declaratory right of secession from the Soviet Union. He labels the Russian North Caucuses as a "legal and political offshore zone," while failing to mention that without such "offshore zones" there would never have been the Russian Empire that Rogozin so admires.
Most importantly, Rogozin and his ilk fail to comprehend, much less think about, where they would erect this citadel against the immigrant "barbarians" and their low culture - on what platform and with what framework and wiring? The reason immigrant workers in Russia are naturally blending in the Russian cultural space is that there has long been no cultural or social barrier that they would have to surmount in this country.
Why? One of the classic definitions of "tribalism" gives a comprehensive answer to that question, as well as describing neatly the social and political order we have been living in, even in the heart of Russia - Moscow. It goes like this: tribalism is a societal and political grouping that seeks to form and dominate bodies of government on the basis of kinship and tribal links, practicing tribal rivalry and the exclusion of members of rival tribes. Sound familiar? And in Russia, the most bellicose and bloodthirsty "tribes" are not ethnically based.
Vladimir Belaeff, Global Society Institute, San Francisco, CA
Multiculturalism is a concept with an elusive meaning and is too often subject to radical and extremist interpretations. In particular, multiculturalism in Western Europe and in Russia is fundamentally two different phenomena, and extrapolating from one to the other is bad science.
One should add a priori that in America, multiculturalism (called diversity) which has largely inspired the ideology in Western Europe, has yet another significance altogether. In the United States, multiculturalism is complicated by its history of slavery, racial segregation and discrimination, and the mistreatment of Native Americans.
In Western Europe multiculturalism was intended as a vehicle to adapt waves of low-skilled economic migrants from cultures so alien to Europe that they were equated to arrivals from a different planet. Now intelligent and fair-minded Europeans are forced to admit that the program has essentially failed. The success of the multicultural experiment is so limited that it is statistically irrelevant, and Western European society now has to solve unexpected problems, or sink into growing ethnic anarchy, or succumb to ethnic extremism. Norway's Anders Breivik may indeed be a sign of an emerging and potentially overwhelming social disaster.
The key to the failure of the Western European multicultural model is that the immigrants mostly refuse to accept the norms of the receiving European societies. In cases where such recognition is present (e.g. Caribbean and Latin American immigrants), friction is minimal, and multiculturalism generally succeeds. In other cases, where there is an intentional disregard for the basic and not very onerous customs of the host countries (for example, rules that maintain the empowerment of women, contrary to the traditions of female subjugation in the original cultures of the immigrants) - multiculturalism fails.
The harmonious contact of diverse cultures depends on symmetry and reciprocity. Western European ideologues of multiculturalism bent over backward to "accept" incoming aliens into European milieus; the immigrants perceive this attitude as a sign of foolishness and weakness, which is therefore not worthy of reciprocity.
The concept of law is exceptionally significant in these interactions. The European side perceives law as a universal moral imperative, which has an absolute and independent authority. The non-integrating immigrants perceive the law as a particular coercion, relative and dependent on which side wields physical power.
Russia's multicultural situation is quite different from Western Europe's. Most ethnic groups in Russia have been in contact for many centuries and are not recent immigrants to the region. Tsar Ivan the Terrible (16th century) married a princess from the North Caucasus as his second wife. Russia has achieved multicultural harmony with about 98 percent of its ethnic minorities. Considering a few exceptions, this is a good record.
Both Medvedev and Rogozin are right in indicating that compliance with the law by everyone is a requirement for multiculturalism. This is the necessity for symmetry and reciprocity referenced above. The requirement may seem "trite," but it is a necessary condition nonetheless. The issue "buried inside" is whether all concerned really do want cultural harmony. People who consider the law a primitive power relationship often refuse to obey if they deem themselves to be the stronger party.
It is a mistake to think that separating the North Caucasus "from Russia" will resolve problems in the interaction of civilizations. Persons of North Caucasian origin will not cease to visit and live in Russia after such a putative separation. And the entire world, along with Russia, will regret such a partitioning, because the North Caucasus, outside the legal framework of the Russian Federation, will become a truly lawless region, a war theater, an enclave for violent uncontainable extremism. The world already saw all that in the 1990s.
Moscow destroys central mosque
By: Kathy Lally
Washington Post, September 16, 2011
For more than a century, Moscow's Muslims have found affirmation in their Cathedral Mosque, painted in a minty pastel so evocative of the city's cherished old buildings, with a golden crescent high above, proclaiming their identity.
On Thursday, the mosque - built by Tatar Muslims who have lived in Russia for a thousand years - was a pile of splintered wood, shattered brick and billowing plaster.
The mosque was demolished last weekend, the official reason being that the 1904 building was badly deteriorated and heavy rains had made it so dangerous that it had to be destroyed before it collapsed and killed someone. But longtime Muscovites, Muslim and not, were unconvinced, saying it was a historic monument that should have been preserved at all costs.
Ravil Gainutdin, the chief mufti who works out of offices next door, shed no tears. Gainutdin heads the government-backed Spiritual Board of Muslims of the European Part of Russia, and recently he had been complaining that the mosque was not properly aligned with Mecca and that it had no historic value.
Farid Asadullin, chairman of the scientific and public department of the Council of Muftis, said houses of worship are destroyed all the time, pointing out that Moscow's 1883 Orthodox Christ the Savior Cathedral was torn down in 1931 (by Stalin, who replaced it with a swimming pool) and then built anew in the 1990s.
"Renewal of a mosque is a natural process," he said.
Little was heard outside the official religious structure until Thursday, when several Moscow Muslims and preservationists organized a news conference to mourn their loss. They had a hard time finding space but finally ended up in the attic of a marginalized political party, Yabloko, with mostly religious and ethnic media members in attendance.
"I am not such a believer," said Adil Belayev, an elderly man with pure white hair who said some of his kin had helped build the mosque. "I don't pray every day. But that was a holy place, and I felt it."
The mosque was built despite czarist disapproval, and it withstood revolution and repression, said Mukhammyat Minachev, who is Muslim. "And now someone has demolished our memories," he said.
Gayar Iskandyarov, an engineer and leader of the Foundation for the Development of the Muslim People, said the mosque had been a cultural center for Tatars, keeping their language and traditions alive even though they were a minority in Orthodox Russia. As if in witness, the water on the tables was Holy Spring, from the Orthodox Golden Ring city of Kostroma. A church a block away from the mosque displays the Orthodox cross, with a crescent at its base signifying the victory of Christianity over Islam.
"The walls held our prayers," Iskandyarov said.
A new mosque is being built next to the destroyed one. The cornerstone was laid in 2005, but it is still far from finished, and no work has been done in a few years. Now, officials said, the permits are in hand and work can proceed.
Around the edges of the room, journalists whispered that a Muslim from the Caucasus had donated a great deal of money to finish construction of the new mosque and that tearing down the old one represented a shift in power. Once Tatars defined the Muslim community; now they are outnumbered by Muslims from the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The Muslims at the news conference - Tatars who grew up in Moscow - said they should have been told that the mosque needed repairs. They could have come up with alternatives. The old one could have been incorporated into the new one.
"That would have been too expensive," interrupted Farit Farisov, chairman of the board of trustees of the Council of Muftis, who attended the event. "Where would we get the money?"
Of course people had been told, he said later. "Maybe we didn't use the word 'demolish,' but we talked about reconstruction," he said. "I'm a lawyer. I cannot define demolish or reconstruct. Talk to an architect."
He said that the new mosque will be finished within a year or so and that the old one will be restored as part of it. Frescoes were saved, he said.
"Don't worry," he said. "Everything will be fine."
As he spoke, a large yellow steam shovel was biting into the rubble of the mosque, dropping it into a red dump truck.
Poor Central Asians migrate to Moscow
By: Kathy Lally
Washington Post, Sepember 18, 2011
MOSCOW - In a tiny hut in the woods where he survives without fixed address or running water, Abdul Malik keeps a neatly pressed suit hanging on the wall above his thin mattress, an emblem of the respectable life that should have been his, destroyed by the aftershocks of the Soviet planned economy.
Malik, a 22-year-old from Tajikistan, was only 2 when the Soviet Union disintegrated under its own unsupportable weight in 1991, leaving outposts of the far-flung empire stranded economically, many in the future generations doomed to destitution.
The Central Asian countries, a source of raw materials with little manufacturing capacity and heavily subsidized by Moscow, were left particularly vulnerable. Twenty years after independence, a flood of Central Asians looking for work washes over Moscow, turning it into a city of migrants, Abdul Malik among them.
"You can survive," he said, standing outside his hut in the quiet woods as a summer evening faded into night. "You can earn something here."
Moscow, a city of 11.5 million according to last year's census, has as many as 5 million migrants, more than half of them undocumented. The migrants, many of them from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, exist on the fringes of society, harassed by police, victimized by employers and disliked by Russians, once their fellow Soviet citizens. The flawed policies of the old system, where the two countries were turned into cotton fields for the empire and dependent on Moscow, haunt the new nations still, long after the old ideology was discarded.
In Moscow, deep-seated prejudice against Central Asians (and people from Russia's Caucasian mountains) gives restive young nationalists a target for their anger. Ethnic tension has been rising, giving the city a dangerous edge. About one Central Asian is killed every month in a racially motivated attack in the city, and many are beaten up, with numerous assaults unreported. Others die in accidents.
Last year, according to the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, a Moscow nonprofit organization, 37 people were killed in Russia in racially motivated attacks and 368 reported injured, most of them Central Asians.
In one horrifying incident, a 20-year-old Tajik was stabbed and then beheaded on his way home from work in December 2008, apparently by ultranationalists. That year 600 Tajiks died in Russia, 84 of them because of hate crimes, the Tajik government said.
The migrants come anyway, driven by desperation. Despite all obstacles, they have created an important economy of their own. There are more Uzbeks here than Tajiks: Uzbekistan has a population of nearly 28 million. But Tajikistan is one of the world's poorest countries, and close to a million of its 7 million people are working in Russia. Last year they sent home $2.3 billion, about 45 percent of that country's GDP, according to the National Bank of Tajikistan.
Russia has become an important source of such remittances, amounting to about $18.6 billion in 2009, according to the World Bank.
Malik made his way 2,000 miles to Moscow a year ago and lives just outside the city's outer ring road with two other men from the Khatlon region of Tajikistan - Kurgan Tyube in Soviet times - the poorest, cotton-growing part of the country, southwest of the capital Dushanbe.
Most migrants are too frightened to give their names, certain the police will find them, shake them down or worse, beat them up and throw them out of the country. But Malik, 29-year-old Odil Sattorov and 43-year-old Makhmud Mamedov are unable to deny their deep sense of hospitality, and they welcome this foreign reporter who improbably finds them in the woods, lamenting they have no shish kebab to cook on their outdoor fire to offer a guest.
Home from work about 8 p.m., they take advantage of the still bright summer sky to embark on a home improvement project, stringing an electric line through the deep woods and attaching lights so they can illuminate their path, which takes them on a winding route through thick foliage and across two streams, negotiated over narrow tree limbs and boards. Tapping into a nearby power line - they're construction workers - has provided a single light bulb and a small stove in their hut, which barely has room for three mattresses. Next maybe they can get a simple computer - and Skype.
They set off for work every morning by 5 o'clock, and lucky ones that they are, they have gotten on a construction crew that pays them a few hundred dollars more than the $300 to $500 a month most migrants earn.
"He has golden hands," Malik said of Sattorov's skill. "He's the boss," a passing friend from a nearby shack said. "Yeah," Sattorov laughed, "boss of the fresh air."
Sattorov is hoping to earn enough to marry soon. Mamedov, a former policeman who lost his job as his country grew poorer, supports three children and a wife at home. Malik's pay goes to his parents and younger brother and sister. And he has his suit, ready to wear home proudly, if only on a yearly visit.
They work together to make their modest quarters pleasant - a wooden plaque with a picture from a Tajik fairy tale is nailed above their door. They have what they need - money to send home.
"We enjoy life here," Sattorov said with his easy smile, as if he was living in a snug forest cottage instead of a thin-board shack hidden among the trees.
Invisible in the woods
Thousands of migrants live like this or worse, mostly invisible in the woods or fields where they turn abandoned garden sheds into shelters. Some manage the winter cold, others rent apartments when the weather turns bitter, sleeping 20 to a room.
Farther around the ring road, Sukhrab Karimov, a 27-year-old who earned $100 a month as a teacher back home, now makes $550 a month as a laborer. He pays $92 a month for a bed and hot water shower to a landlord who has built a shanty town for thousands of migrants hidden along a winding, muddy road. Every month he sends about $370 home for his parents, wife and children. "I have, thank God, three," he said.
In April, police found more than 100 Central Asians living underground, in an abandoned bomb shelter. In February, a settlement was discovered under the sprawling Kievsky train station, where the inhabitants worked as cleaners. In March, about 30 migrants from Tajikistan and Moldova were found living under a sausage factory.
Those without regular work line up every morning near the complexes that sell building and home improvement supplies along the ring road, hoping for a day's labor - regiments of them, de facto replacements for the construction brigades of the Soviet era. Then, conscripts from Central Asia were deployed to Moscow to dig ditches and even harvest potatoes. Now they wear the uniforms of private companies, sweeping streets, collecting garbage and unloading the long procession of trucks that feed Moscow's booming consumer culture.
In Soviet times, movement was restricted, as Grigori Golosov, a political science professor and director of the Helix democracy and human rights center in St. Petersburg, pointed out. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Central Asian cotton couldn't compete on the world market. The Russian economic system drew those workers here.
"They became as poor as the lack of demand allowed," he said. "At the same time, the oil economy developed rapidly, keeping the demand for unskilled labor high in Russia, where employers are reluctant to pay good salaries, especially for construction and services."
Citizens of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan can enter without visas, but encounter three sets of daunting problems, said Anastasia Denisova, an advocate for migrants at the nongovernmental Committee for Civil Assistance.
Residency and work permits are required, but limited by quota and the difficulties of traversing a hard-to-navigate bureaucracy. A whole industry has arisen, Denisova said, selling fake documents - $375 to $450 for a residency permit, about $630 for a work permit. "Even those who try hard to get legal papers are pushed out of the legal system and made to feel like criminals," she said.
Once they get work, employers may abuse workers and fail to pay them, leaving the migrants little recourse. Without contracts, a boss could simply say he has never seen the complainant before.
And when attacked on the street, they are quickly turned from victim to aggressor, she said. "They are easy prey," she said, "because no one is interested in protecting them and the hate level is very high."
One of her clients, an Uzbek in his early 30s named Anvar Yusupov, got onto a subway car with a friend recently, where they found themselves in the middle of a crowd of rowdy, taunting soccer fans. "Before they could get off, Anvar saw a knife," Denisova said. "He picked up one of their beer bottles, broke it off and told them to stop it."
Yusupov was charged with attacking the rowdies and faces three years in prison. "No one believes him," she said, "and we are very anxious."
Denisova said she is frustrated that Russia fails to recognize the migrants' value and grant them legal status.
"People are coming in great crowds, and they are needed here," she said. "Our skyscrapers were built with their hands. They were Soviet people, just like us."
Post-Soviet Syndrome: Many Young Russians Are Nostalgic for the Soviet Union.
By: Pavel Koshkin
Russia Profile, September 19, 2011
Contrary to popular belief, the tight grip that 70 years of Soviet indoctrination exerted on the popular psyche was not limited to the older generations of Soviet citizens. Many of today's young peoplewho were not even born when the Soviet Union still existedare showing symptoms of grief and pining for the "good old days." While experts continue to unravel the mystery behind ex-Soviet citizens' love for the good old former union, more and more young people say they too are casting some nostalgic looks at the Soviet past.
For many young people, the fabled social guarantees and safety net that the Soviet regime provided were the keys to their hearts. "It was good that the government provided people with the necessary living conditions and social benefits, there was more confidence about tomorrow," 20-year-old Maria Skorik, who studies PR at the Journalism and Philology Faculty of the Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don, said. For her, social welfare is what was cool about the Soviet Union, even though she said that her idea of those times was based on bedside stories.
Maxim Rudnev, aged 23, who studies at Russia's Academy of Law and Governance, also said recreational storytelling by his parents formed his opinions about the Soviet past. "My opinion is based on stories I was told by my grandparents and good Soviet movies," said Rudnev, who was born in East Berlin and never lived in the Soviet Union. "For me, the Soviet past is associated with victories in World War II, the achievements of the space programs, science and the labor movements, such as Stakhanovism." Rudnev is now one of the patriotic young fellows in the pro-Kremlin Molodaya Gvardiya political movement, which, among other things, groom the young generation to look at the Soviet past with admiration and some veneration.
Through rose-colored glasses
A recent study by Valeria Kasamara and Anna Sorokina at the Laboratory for Political Research at the Higher School of Economics found that nostalgia for the Soviet past is still quite common among Russians, including the younger generation. The study, which polled 300 high-school and university students aged between 13 and 32, found that young people with little or no memory of the Soviet Union also tend to be nostalgic for the past. "Young Russians didn't live in the Soviet Union and only know about it from stories they have been told by their parents, grandparents and teachers, or Soviet movies," Kasamara said. "These tend to concentrate on positive experiences and don't reflect the gloomy Soviet reality."
Sorokina added that those who remember the Soviet Union tend to focus on its achievements.
"To appeal to teenagers, parents only reminisce about the Soviet achievements and the positive side, and try to compare today with the past within an alluring context. For instance, the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow is compared with the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the Nashi political movement is compared with the Pioneers and Little Octobrists," she said.
The degree to which people are willing to idealize the past, experts say, depends to a large extent on their social status, upbringing, education and movies. Tough social and economic conditions since the collapse of the Soviet Union can also lead people to idealize the past, according to experts. "The difficulties people faced after the collapse of the Soviet Union, including the 1998 economic crisis, the threat of terrorism, and the collapse of orderwhich had been so typical of the post-Soviet era, outweighed the problems of the Soviet period," Kasamara said. "Although Soviet citizens didn't like the gloomy Soviet reality, when shock therapy was implemented in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union people started to recall 'the romantic and still air of the Soviet Union' when they had government support and confidence about tomorrow."
Such a line of thinking is also winning over young Russians, many of whom, Kasamara said, suffer from a lack of confidence and a sense that they are dependent on circumstances. "If somebody is not confident, has low self-esteem and is reliant on government support alone, they want to shift responsibility onto somebody else," Kasamara said. For many, the social welfare or state guarantees that they will find a job after graduation are essential, because they are unable to act independently, she said.
Among the younger generation, students from regional and second-tier universities are more likely to suffer from post-Soviet nostalgia. "Students from top Moscow universities are more confident about their future, more open-minded, self-reliant and ready to suggest a compromise because they are in demand among employers," Kasamara said.
But not all students fit in with this broad categorization, particularly when it comes to perceptions of certain aspects of the Soviet Union. Skorik claimed not to suffer from post-Soviet nostalgia at all, despite her positive impression of the Soviet welfare system. "I was born before the collapse of the Soviet Union, but I don't remember this period," she said, "I did not belong to Soviet society like I do not belong to American society, because I live in modern Russia. It's my aquarium and I don't want to live outside of it."
Longing for a strong hand
The researchers from the Higher School of Economics believe that to some extent, post-Soviet nostalgia is symptomatic of a yearning for the strong and influential rule that characterized Soviet power. "Reliance on a strong government and leader helps to boost a person's ego," Kasamara said. "The grandeur and influence of Soviet power is what they are proud of, not great literature and scientific achievements. While Americans take pride in their freedoms, the average Russian is yearning for a strong and controlling government."
This desire for strong leadership is also noticeable among young people who claim not to feel nostalgia for the past. Skorik sees a strong government as much more important for Russia than a close relationship with the West. While supporting friendly ties with other countries, she thinks that national interest and security should remain top priorities. "Concessions that may result in negative consequences for the country are not always a good way to deal with geopolitical problems," she said.
Suspicion toward Western countries is also quite common among the post-Soviet generation, which Kasamara believes indicates it is yearning for the Soviet Union's influence in the international political arena. A poll conducted by the Levada Center in 2011 revealed that 70 percent of respondents believe that Russia has a lot of strategic rivals and enemies abroad.
Rudnev also supports a strong government, but does not rule out the possibility of mutual understanding and collaboration. "Russia should work on building friendly partnerships with the West, but, concurrently, we should be prudent and avoid manipulation. In other words, we should be an equal partner for the West, but not a second-rate one."
But young people's perceptions of the Soviet Union are far from overwhelmingly positive today. Although he feels nostalgia toward Soviet grandeur, power and the country's achievements, Rudnev would not like to live in the Soviet Union. He describes himself as a representative of a new generation that is focused on improving today's Russia, not the past. "Try to make your own contributions to Russia's development and wellbeing before asking something from the government, that's my principle," Rudnev said. "And this makes me different from Soviet generations." Rudnev also believes that the lack of competitiveness as well as reliance on the government and social welfare hampered the development of Soviet society on both international and domestic levels.
Other young people, such as Skorik take a negative view of the uniformity that pervaded the Soviet Union. Her view is shared by 22-year old Aznavur Dustmamotov, who was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in 2007 to study at Harvard. "The thing I most dislike about the Soviet Union is its uniformity. There was one official ideology, one path to success, even one taste in music, clothes, and film," he said. Despite having a negative opinion of the Soviet Union, Dustmamontov said "it would certainly be curious to live there for a short time to witness such a radically different society."
Dustmamotov, who described the Soviet Union as "a doomed experiment" and "a failed state, based on coercion and false social theory," also believes there is a fine line between pursuing national interests and reclaiming imperial ambitions. He personally never felt part of Soviet achievements, even though he grew up in the Yaroslavl Region, because he is not an ethnic Russian. "I was always treated as an outsider, and I simply cannot identify with Soviet achievements, such as victory in World War II or the creation of the thermonuclear bomb, in the same way ethnic Russians do. I was always told, 'This is our success, not yours.' Whatever the greatness of the Soviet Union may have consisted of, I have no share in it and do not feel sentimental about it."
Reinhard Krumm, the head of the Moscow bureau of the Friedrich Ebert Fund, an influential German organization promoting democratic values in Russia, is skeptical of how widespread post-Soviet nostalgia is among young Russians. "I have been teaching Russian students and I haven't noticed that they want to go back to the Soviet Union. They have a lot of opportunities to study wherever and whatever they want. But whether Russian youth feels nostalgia toward the Soviet Union primarily depends on their level of education and social status," Krumm said, adding that those who are better educated are more confident and more comfortable in modern Russia and feel less nostalgia for the Soviet Union.
An expert on Soviet and post-Soviet history, Krumm said that in contrast to their Soviet predecessors, consumerism and attachment to Western culture are characteristic of the current generation. "Now young people understand they will not be able to profit in an isolated society. In a globalized world Russians don't want to stand apart, they want to participate."
Krumm also believes that the post-Soviet generation differs in its perception of ideas of freedom, pluralism and responsibility. He said that <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)