Thursday, July 24, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Patriarchate has No Future in Ukraine and a Lesser One in Russia and Elsewhere, Orthodox Scholar Says


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 24 – Bishop Grigory Lyurye, a leading specialist on Orthodoxy who is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, says that the Moscow Patriarchate has no future in Ukraine and that, as a result, has only a restricted one in the Russian Federation and internationally.

 

            Lyurye, an internationally recognized scholar, in an article on Snob.ru today, says that the Moscow Patriarchate’s demise in Ukraine is now common ground – its clergy and parishioners are leaving it and will continue to do so regardless of the strategy Moscow adopts now (snob.ru/profile/28614/blog/78913).

 

            But he argues that the Moscow Patriarchate is going to experience its most serious losses less in Ukraine than because of what is happening there. Its standing with the Kremlin is certain to diminish because of its inability to hold Ukraine, and its loss of numbers as a result of Ukraine will reduce its status in the Orthodox world and in the international religious community.

 

            The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is “constantly losing parishes” and may soon remain only “a church without a following,” at least beyond the southeastern portions of the country, Lyurye says. And that is despite the efforts of that denomination’s leaders to “distance” themselves ever further from Moscow.

 

            With time, it seems obvious, Moscow’s church in Ukraine will cease to exist and fuse with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.  Because things have gone so far and because the risks to the Moscow Patriarchate of its continuing are so great, Moscow has now advanced a canonical argument against any change.

 

            But the problem is that Moscow’s argument is not accepted by anyone beyond the borders of the former Soviet space and not by all even there.  It specifies that the Ukrainian church can go its own way only if Moscow approves, something that no one can think is ever likely to be the case.

 

            More than that, Moscow’s argument is simply without any foundation.  And “happily for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate,” cannon law is on its side because “de jure Kyiv up to now is subordinate to [the Patriarchate of] Constantinople, and neither in Kyiv nor and this is the main thing in Constantinople has anyone forgotten that.”

 

            In 1686, Lyurye continues, under pressure from the sultan who wanted to develop relations with Russia, the Constantinople Patriachate was “forced to give up a significant portion of its church power in the Kyiv metropolitanate.”  But its concessions did not include making Kyiv subordinate to Moscow. In any case, Moscow “immediately violated” the accord.

 

            In canon law, there is no statute of limitations, Bishop Lyurye points out. Consequently as far as the Orthodox world is concerned, the Church has not recognized the seizure by Moscow of the Kyivan metropolitanate as legitimate.  That did not matter a great deal as long as the Russian Empire existed, but it mattered profoundly after its fall.

 

            In 1924, the Constantinople Patriarchate approved the formation of a Polish Orthodox Church on the basis of its 1686 “concession.”  That arrangement lasted until Poland was occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Then, Polish Orthodox leaders were forced to denounce what they had obtained in 1924.

 

            But Constantinople has acted toward Ukraine on the basis of the 1686 declaration. In 1995-1996, it included within its supervision Ukrainian √©migr√© churches on the basis of its view that it continues to have oversight over the Ukrainian Church. The Moscow Patriarchate was furious, Lyurye says, because it recognized this was a step toward bringing all of Ukrainian Orthodoxy under Constantinople rather than Moscow.

 

            As far as strategy is concerned, “nothing needs to be prepared for the separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate from Moscow: everything is already prepared … because there is a completely clear understanding that for Kyiv, Constantinople, not Moscow, is the mother church [and that] Moscow for Kyiv is a daughter church.”

 

            Consequently, “Constantinople has the right to offer Kyiv autocephaly and is prepared to use this right,” Bishop Lyurye says.  What all involved need to focus on “lies only in the tactical realm.”

 

            The only serious obstacle to Ukrainian autocephaly lies not with Moscow but with the divisions among Ukrainian Orthodox.  These have become fewer in recent years so that problem is being handled.  Less serious but requiring good tactics is the process by which Moscow Patriarchate clergy and hierarchs will be integrated into a genuinely Ukrainian church.

 

            The challenge in that regard lies with the fact that “by number of parishes, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate exceeds the number of parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate by a factor of two … but [the latter] has asserted that the picture is just the reverse with regard to the number of believers.”

 

            In sum, one church has more church buildings, but the other has more people. And that is not far from wrong, Lyurye suggests. The two will come together especially if the Ukrainian state stays out of most of this lest it allow some of the “Moscow” church to present themselves as martyrs.

 

            The Moscow churchmen are likely to continue to distance themselves from the Moscow Patriarchate whatever the outcome of the upcoming church elections in Kyiv. They will engage in small but meaningful acts of disobedience to Moscow in order to hold their flocks. And they will take part in joint activities with Kyiv Patriarchate leaders.

 

            This may take some time, but things are moving quickly, and Lyurye concludes that the Moscow Patriarchate has no future in Ukraine, that its stock in the Kremlin is lower than at any time in the past, and that, having lost almost half its parishes with the exit of the Ukrainians, it will rank only third or fourth among the Orthodox Patriarchates in the world and have less say among them and less influence on religious life more generally.

 

Window on Eurasia: West Won’t Impose Serious Sanctions or Back Russian Opposition Because Putin is ‘West’s SOB,’ Basmanov Says


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 24 – The West won’t impose serious sanctions on Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine or provide support for his opponents inside Russia because Western leaders view Putin as an “SOB” but “their SOB,” someone they don’t like but who is largely doing what they want, according to Vladimir Basmanov, a self-described anti-imperial Russian nationalist.

 

            Basmanov, known for his anti-immigrant activities as a leader of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), argues that Western realpolitik pragmatists don’t really care about democracy in Russia but do want to have someone in the Kremlin who can control Russia (rusmonitor.com/putinshhina-i-zapad-luchshe-strashnaya-pravda-chem-sladkaya-lozh.html).

 

            The Russian nationalist is certainly wrong in many respects, but his comments are worth noting because those who see Putin as an agent of the West and his regime as fundamentally illegitimate as a result and who do not see any hope that the West will live up to its ideological claims and support democracy or protect non-Russian countries are typically ignored altogether.

 

            Unfortunately, Basmanov says, the dominant groups in the West aren’t that interested either in saving Ukraine or in supporting Russian democracy because they don’t want to do anything that might threaten the continued control of “their SOB” in Moscow and his willingness to behave in ways that the West finds congenial.

 

            There are some in the West, of course, who care about Ukraine and who recognize that a democratic Russia could be a much better partner for the West, but such people lack significant influence and are opposed by those who think that even if that is true, getting from here to there could prove difficult and dangerous.

 

            For those who control Western governments now, Putin is “no Hitler, Noriega, Saddam Hussein or Qaddafi” whom they must contain and work to remove but rather “’a junior partner’” who may behave badly on occasion but who overall is doing what the Western governments want.

 

            According to Basmanov, “the Russian Federation is a semi-colonial state economically and politically dependent on Europe and the United States.” That doesn’t mean that Moscow will “always and everywhere” do what the EU and the US want. Rather it means that the Russian Federation “by its very nature” is such a state.  

           

            Unfortunately, he continues, “not everyone understands this. Many Russians believe that the West wants to destroy them, and many in the West think that “Putin is an anti-Western dictator … In fact, both opinions are mistaken,” mislead by the propaganda of their governments intended for domestic use only.

 

            The Russian Federation was set up according to the desires of the West, and both Boris Yeltsin and Putin were chosen or at least approved of by the West, Basmanov says. He notes that one representative of the American establishment wrote in his memoirs that the West rejected the division of Russian territory into smaller starts, such as Siberia, as inherently unstable.

 

            (Basmanov acknowledges that there were people in the West who supported the emergence of such states but says that their views were in a minority and ignored.)

 

            In Basmanov’s telling, “Putin has one overriding task: not to allow Russians to recover their own state.”  Instead, the Russian Federation was organized to serve as a supplier of raw materials to and a market for products from the West and to avoid “presenting any threat economically or politically” to the West.

 

            Putin remains “acceptable” for the West because he does not threaten it, however much he may threaten the Russian people or Russia’s neighbors. And therefore, there will not be any serious sanctions against him for actions against either or serious support for the Russian opposition to Putin’s regime.

 

             According to Basmanov, “Putin is in no way diametrically hostile to America. This is a tale for internal use for the residents of the Russian Federation and for the residents of America,” so that the former will support their system “out of ‘patriotism’” and the latter will feel good that their country is promoting democracy.

 

            To say this, he argues, is not to suggest there is any conspiracy. Instead, it is to point out something that is “the customary policy of ‘great powers’ in the world.”

 

            Moreover, Basmanov continues, it means that Russians to a large extent “need to say thank you to ‘the West’ for the fact that the dog Putin is in power,” a situation that reflects the West’s “selfish interests.” And it means that Russians who want to see Putin replaced are going to have to do that on their own.

 

            The West is concerned about the possibility that people will come to power in Russia whom it does not control and who do not live according to the provisions of Moscow’s agreements with the West. “Why risk it?” is their attitude, especially since “Putin is a reliable and tested partner.”

 

            He is someone the West can work with. Moreover, Yeltsin and Sobchak “recommended him. It is not excluded that Putin is a pedophile and a murder who has stolen money in Switzerland. [But] it is not difficult to resolve questions” with someone like that.

 

            “A rich, free and genuinely independent Russia without the parasite RF on its body and the tyrant Putin would not be a good thing for the US, the EU or anyone else in the world because it would begin to produce goods and become a player in the world.” Despite what many think, this isn’t about whether the West likes “this or that mad dictator.”

 

Rather it is about whether the West considers someone, however much of an SOB he may be, “useful” in “keeping under control the situation in the world.”

 

            According to Basmanov, “the Russian Federation de jure and de facto is a continuation of the USSR,” and “the regime of Putin and his band is an occupation regime,” which will become ever more harsh and cruel with time.

             Russians don’t have much time to address this problem, Basmanov says. By mid-century, they will be a national minority, and “after that, the change in the country will be zero.”  If Russians can’t achieve change by themselves, “the current anti-Russian parasite state by the name of Russian Federation will continue to exist on the land of Russia.”

 

            In that event, “Russians have no future.”

 

             

 

Window on Eurasia: Will Putin Move Against Kyrgyzstan Next?


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 24 – The looming defeat of Vladimir Putin’s plans in southeastern Ukraine makes it more likely rather than less that he will seek to project Moscow’s power elsewhere, both to cover his retreat in Ukraine and to move toward the realization of his plans to reverse the results of 1991.

 

            That has sparked speculation in many of the post-Soviet states and further afield as to where the Kremlin leader is likely to move first.  Some have pointed to Belarus, others to Baltic countries even though they are members of NATO, and still others to the South Caucasus and Central Asia.

 

            The possibility Putin might move in Central Asia is perhaps especially likely for three reasons: many of the regimes there are relatively weak, Moscow is worried about both the impact of Afghanistan and of US withdrawal from it, and it is seeking to expand its reach toward China without allowing Beijing to expand too much in the other direction.

 

            In a commentary on the Centrasia.ru regional aggregator site, Zhantoro Shadakulov directly addressing the issue by asking “Will It Again be Kyrzgystan after Ukraine?” and suggesting some additional reasons why Bishkek may very well be in Putin’s sights (centrasia.ru/news.php?st=1406192160).

 

            Shadakulov summarizes Kyrgyzstan’s post-Soviet history in the following way: “14 years of peace and stability, then two revolutions over the course of several years and as a result constant meetings and mass dissatisfaction, international anger and clashes, and a fragile state of national security.”

 

            To call that country “independent and sovereign” in any meaningful way, he argues, is to drain any meaning from those words, especially since Bishkek has become “a puppet” now for the United States and now for Russia over this period, each of which has its own reasons for keeping Kyrgyzstan from “standing on its own feet.”

 

            Russia is in by far the more advantageous position in this regard, the analyst says. Its 70 years of rule there means that Moscow knows the specific details of the Kyrgyz regime and the national character of the peoples who live there.  And more to the point, he says, “for decades, the Kremlin has intentionally sown the seeds of discord and fratricide among the republics and peoples” of the region. The Kyrgyz Republic is “one of the first of these to come to harvest.”

 

            After Joomart Otorbayev who is pro-American became prime minister, Shadakulov says, “the Kremlin has been trying not to allow any weakening of its many-years-long influence.” It isn’t going to organize another revolution because “it well understands” that in Kyrgyzstan the population includes both pro-American and pro-Russian groups.

 

            According to the Centrasia.ru commentator, Moscow operates on basis of the principle that “if you want to run peoples, then weaken and destroy their culture,” but “if you want to control the governments, take control of their economies.”

 

            With regard to the first half of this, he says, Moscow has succeeded extremely well in Kyrgyzstan. Now, it is moving to gain control over Kyrgyz strategic economic facilities. Its most immediate goal is “not to allow any deepening of Kyrgyz-Ukrainian military cooperation.” Kyiv had a contract with Bishkek for torpedoes; Moscow wants that contract to go to North Korea.

 

            In addition, Shadakulov says, Moscow’s operatives are working overtime to ensure that Kyrgyzstan’s “Russian speakers” have the correct views on Ukraine. Recently, they organized a conference of Russian compatriots in Bishkek, nominally to talk about legal support for Russians and the Russian language there but in fact to promote Moscow’s political agenda.

 

Conference participants adopted a resolution calling for the accelerated integration into the Customs Union which they said should have as its  “end goal … the creation of a single political-economic space.”  That is what Vladimir Putin has been pushing for across the entire region. They also asked for the simplification of the procedure for taking out Russian citizenship.

 

Those statements sparked objections from that part of the Kyrgyz opposition which Shadakulov describes as having “pro-American views,” thus setting up a potential conflict like the one in Ukraine.  “God forbid,” he says, “that Kyrgyzstan will become again the next place for a bloody confrontation.”

Window on Eurasia: Putin Now Down to One Ally – Moscow Television


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 24 – Tsar Aleksandr III famously said that Russia has only two allies – its army and its fleet – but now, according to Rashit Akhmetov, the editor of “Zvezda Povolzhya,” Vladimir Putin is down to only one – Moscow television with its ability to shape and direct Russian opinion.

 

            In a lead article in that Kazan paper today, Akhmetov argues that in the wake of the shooting down of the Malaysian airline, Putin is “beginning to recognize that the ‘patriotic’ and nationalist wave” he helped to generate’ “now can be thrown against himself because it will demand a more aggressive policy which Putin and Russia do not have the resources for.”

 

            As a result, Akhmetov says, Putin has only “one ally -- television” – on which he can rely as he tries to extricate himself from his current problems in Ukraine and to survive in the Kremlin. Russia “doesn’t have a fleet, and its army will suffer enormously from the defeat in Donetsk  (“Zvezda Povolzhya,” no. 27 (707), July 24-30, 2014, p. 1).

 

            The Kazan editor says that his dependence on television will become ever more obvious because he “will be forced to turn to the support of the West.” To cover himself, he will insist that the West promise not to seek the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Only later, Akhmetov suggests, Putin will “begin to purge those guilty of the Ukrainian adventure.”

 

            Those are Akhmetov’s conclusions.  They rest on a more extended argument.  He begins his article by saying that the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner is “a turning point” in history perhaps equivalent to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 which triggered World War I.

 

            That is because, he continues, the shooting down of the plane may have been the work in the immediate sense of the secessionists in eastern Ukraine, but they would not have had the necessary weapons system had Moscow not given it to them and would not have fired it had they not convinced their Russian controllers that they needed to shoot down a plane to prevent the defeat of the secessionist cause.

 

            In the wake of the surrender of Slavyansk by the secessionists, both they and Moscow were worried enough to use ground-to-air rockets to shoot down Ukrainian military planes bringing in supplies, actions that the secessionists have acknowledged in other cases.  The real question is why was Russian oversight so bad in the case of the Malaysian civilian airliner?

 

            According to Akhmetov, the secessionists made a mistake, but they succeeded in getting Moscow’s authorization to shoot because they exploited the nervousness of Russian commanders and of Moscow not only about the military situation in southeastern Ukraine but also about what could happen in Russia itself in the event of a total collapse of the secessionist project.

 

            Unless they got authorization, the Kazan editor says, the secessionists implicitly threatened that the Donetsk Peoples Republic would “suffer a defeat” and be forced to “evacuate tens of thousands” of armed men into the Russian Federation where they would pose a threat to the political situation there.  Out of fear and in confusion, the Russians authorized the launch, and the result was tragic.

 

            In many ways, this represented a playing out of the misconception Putin himself had about southeastern Ukraine.  As he repeatedly has said, Russia won in Crimea without firing a single shot or without the loss of a single life and without the imposition of Western sanctions. The Kremlin leader clearly expected the same thing elsewhere in Ukraine.

 

            But he failed to understand two crucial realities. On the one hand, southeastern Ukraine is significantly less ethnically Russian and significantly more integrated into Ukraine than was Crimea, with 80 percent of its population being Russia and its anchor being the Russian naval base at Sevastopol.

 

            And on the other, while ethnic Russians in southeastern Ukraine might have accepted the integration of their region into the Russian Federation if the Russian army had come to occupy them, they were not and are not willing to fight for that outcome. Because Putin recognized that he could not send in the army without provoking a major war, he thus found himself in a position where he could not win.

 

            In short, Putin was pushed into a corner, something that ensured that he would make mistakes because of his own nature.  As a KGB officer, Putin was trained never to trust anyone. His suspiciousness of others, even those nominally closest to him, represents a problem that may be even greater to his future than any threat posed by the West.

 

            And even before he became a Soviet intelligence officer, Akhmetov says, Putin had a childhood experience about what happens when someone is driven into a corner. As he has told journalists, he drove a rat into a corner with a stick. The rat retreated until it had nowhere to go and then it attacked.

 

            “I once and for all time understood,” Putin said, “what the phrase ‘driven into a corner’ means.” 

 

            Because he trusts no one, the Kremlin leader could easily imagine that the leaders of the secessionists would turn on him if they were allowed to go down to defeat. And because he can see that they feel that they have been “driven into a corner,” Akhmetov continues, they have all the more reason to come out fighting against the man they blame for their predicament.

 

           

 

           

 

 

Window on Eurasia: Belarusians Challenge Russian National Narrative and Some Russians are Angry


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 24 – The central Russian narrative on the emergence of the three modern nations of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians, a narrative on which Vladimir Putin relies, is that there was a single Russian nation a millennium ago and that Ukrainians and Belarusians were byproducts of Russian ethnogenesis, the result of outside interference.

 

            That narrative has been shown to be false by numerous historians and ethnographers: a millennium ago, there was no separate Russian nation, and neither it nor its Ukrainian or Belarusian counterpart emerged under several centuries later, arising out of various east Slavic tribes.

 

            What Russian writers can point to is the fact that those whom they call Russians had an articulated state for almost all of that period while Ukrainians had a state for only about half of it and Belarusians for only a tiny fraction of that millennium, yet another Russian confusion of ethnic and state development that Moscow has long promoted.

 

            Ukrainian historians have long challenged the Moscow version of reality, and Belarusian writers are doing the same, casting doubt on the Russian version of reality and provoking anger among some Russians who recognize that Moscow stands to lose far more if it loses this debate about events of centuries ago than it might seem at first glance.

 

             In an article in “Russkaya planeta” yesterday, Yury Glushakov says that “ever more frequently” Belarusian scholars and popular writers are “casting doubt” on “the common history of the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian peoples,” projecting the existence of the first further and further into the past and downplaying the role of the state in ethnogenesis (rusplt.ru/world/belorusskie-protiv-drevnerusskih-11469.html).

 

            On the one hand, the Russian writer says, the appearance of such books reflects commercial calculations: people are more likely to buy books which debunk older ideas or promise to “reveal” new ones.  But on the other, he insists, it is an ideological challenge to Russia because it insists that the commonalities of the three Slavic nations are “no more than a myth … thought up in the Russian Empire and then strengthened, modernized, and used in the Soviet Union.”

 

            There is a range of views within this new Belarusian trend, Glushkov says. Some Belarusian “national romantics” say that Belarusians have existed since Kievan times. Others insist that the Belarusians were never Slavs at all but instead “Balts who accepted under certain historical circumstances a Slavic language and by blood have little in common with the Slavs.”

 

            These various Belarusian views have been around for some time, the Russian writer says. The “founding fathers” of them, Vsevolod Ignatovsky and Vatslav Lastovsky, were exposed by Stalin as “’bourgeois nationalists’” in the 1930s. But these “academic” ideas are not what is really at stake, he continues.

 

            Many Belarusian “national romantics” believe that they can provide support for “the sovereignty of contemporary Belarus” by pointing to the emergence of a Belarusian nation earlier than or at least apart from “the medieval ancient Russian nationality.” And they see Kievan Rus as the forefather of Ukraine not of Russia.

 

                Glushkov discusses and then dismisses Belarusian commentaries on Slavic ethnogenesis, with the core of his argument being that the Russians had a state while the Belarusians did not and therefore the Russians became a nation much earlier and would have absorbed those who call themselves Belarusians had it not been for outside actors like Lithuania and Poland.

 

            And for all the details that he offers, Glushkov shows himself to be but the latest example of the longstanding Russian confusion between nation building and state building and of those in Moscow, Putin among them, who fear that if the other Slavs do have states, they will become separate nations, and that this process must be stopped before it goes any further.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin has Repeated Andropov’s Mistakes but Doesn’t Have Andropov’s Options, Grigoryants Says


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 23 – Vladimir Putin has repeated the two chief mistakes of Yury Andropov – invading a neighboring country and shooting down a civilian aircraft – but he doesn’t have the Soviet-era KGB and CPSU chief’s options anytime soon of a return to totalitarianism or a shift to officers in the organs who can get Russia out of its difficulties.

           

            That is the judgment of Sergey Grigoryants, a prominent dissident in Soviet times who suffered for his actions and who today is a thorough-going critic of the Putin regime and its crimes. His words merit the closest attention because Grigoryants very much knows whereof he speaks (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=53CE9B6D3D65F).

 

            Having in the space of three months repeated Andropov’s mistakes, Putin doesn’t have the options that the former Soviet leader did. He has not developed the institutions he would need to impose totalitarian control over the country – institutions Andropov had and developed over 15 years – and he doesn’t have young and supposedly pure KGB and party operatives who can try to save the situation.

 

In short, there are neither camps nor Gorbachevs immediately available to Putin, all speculation about both notwithstanding, Grigoryants says. No one should be under any “illusion” about that.

 

Grigoryants says that in his view, “the KGB and the MVD are not capable of creating real terror in the country. Censorship, the destruction of the electoral system and public life, and suppression of the Internet are insufficient for that.”  And the options of turning to the West by reforming at home are very, very limited.

 

No one believes Putin anymore after what he has done, the commentator continues, and consequently, it is “already too late” for the Kremlin leader to present himself as something other than an outlaw, especially since “in terms of his moral qualities, Putin is no better than Andropov or Stalin.”

 

And Putin isn’t about to yield power to anyone else, Grigoryants continues. He won’t commit suicide as legend has it that Nicholas I did out of a sense of shame. And his system does not allow for the emergence of a serious alternative.  That makes it “very difficult to imagine” what will happen next, he says. But almost certainly, it will not be anything good.

 

 

Window on Eurasia: ‘Hot Heads’ Who Shot Down Malaysian Plane Could Lead Ouster of Putin, Bukovsky Says


Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, July 23 – Europe will do everything it can to avoid taking a hard line against Vladimir Putin even after the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner lest that lead to a break with Russia and in a remarkably short time, the governments and publics in the West will forget about this crime, Vladimir Bukovsky says.

 

            But that is not the end of Putin’s problems, the former Soviet dissident, says.  He faces a monster of his own creation: the hotheads who shout “’Crimea is Ours!’” and who shot down the plane. They may become the agents of the ouster of Putin and even the demise of the Russian Federation (gordonua.com/publications/Bukovskiy-Goryachie-golovy-gotovye-sshibat-malaziyskiy-Boeing-skoro-sami-smetut-rezhim-Putina-32749.html).

 

            Bukovsky, who now lives in London, says that he doesn’t expect the West to impose more serious sanctions. On the one hand, Western countries would suffer as a result. And on the other hand, as Saddam Husseyn demonstrated, a country put under sanctions can “easily” work around them.  Moreover, no sanctions regime lasts forever.

 

            In this circumstance, he told Ukraine’s Gordonua.com news agency, Ukrainians must fight, counting only on themselves. And they should have begun fighting much earlier. Had they fought in Crimea, they would not be facing the problems in Donetsk. Only Ukrainians really recognize how dangerous the Russian aggression is.

 

            Asked why young Russians who have travelled abroad and have access to alternative sources of information nonetheless support Putin’s campaign, Bukovsky says that it is still not clear “whether they really believe or are only appearing to do so.”  Given that “fear has returned to Russia,” the latter is likely.

 

            And even if some of them do support Putin, that support is unlikely to last very long, he argues.  Just like people in the West, many Russians will focus on other things soon enough.  There are exceptions, however, and they may set the weather for the coming months. Those exceptions are the radical hotheads in Ukraine and in Russia itself.

 

            As conditions in Russia deteriorate, Bukovsky continues, as the economic crisis deepens and some portions of Russian territory even begin “to separate themselves” from Moscow, including regions like the Russian Far East which could “become an independent republic,” such people will only become more enraged and more willing to take radical steps.

 

            It is unfortunate, the former Soviet-era dissident says, that “the building of ‘the Russian empire’ will collapse on the heads of ordinary citizens, but the Putin regime will fall – and not in the least because it unleashed war in Ukraine.”  That mistake “has accelerated everything.” Now, neither Putin nor Russia has more than “a few years left.”