An Orange Solution, Even For Putin.


Some orange in Brussels.
About a week ago, I wondered what the chances were for an explosion when hundreds of thousands of people are smoking at a gas station. Unfortunately, now their leaders seem to have begun fooling around with the gas pump handles in truly ‘zoolanderesque’ manner.

More and more commentators seem to be afraid about Russia’s hardline stance and the possible geopolitical fallout of the Orange Revolution, while such a realpolitical approach offends others for the little concern it has for the people freezing for freedom – or, more precisely, a little democracy and approximate rule of law.

As so often, it’s a little both. And to avoid an explosion, both conceptual layers need to be given the appropriate consideration: How to make sure no one, and above all the Ukrainian people, ends up paying the bill for continuing a pointless conflict when the Orange Revolution, this plebiscite on modern governance, is actually opening up a whole range of opportunities for Ukraine, Russia, and the West, and – particularly – the EU.

First of all, however, I think it is important to understand that accepting continuing Russian influence in Ukraine is not equivalent to declaring Russian ownership of Ukraine. Stanford’s David Laitin argues in his book “Identities in formation: The Russian-speaking Populations in the Near Abroad“, that

“[t]he historical legacy of political incorporation influences three key outcomes. First, the degree to which Russians assimilate into the titular cultures now that independence has been achieved, second, the threat of interethnic conflict in the newly independent states; and third, the degree to which the newly independent states will become rationalized as classic nation-states.”

In Laitin’s understanding, Ukraine was to be incorporated into tsarist Russia on equal terms with the center, which was allegedly an easy task due to relatively similar languages and a similar state of economic development. During the Soviet period, with some exceptions, the ?special relationship? between the center and Ukraine stood strong ? Ukrainians received more jobs at the center any other non-Russian group.

Ukraine thus represents a “most-favored-lord”-model of integration: a tactic which offers elites of the incorporated state rights and privileges equal to the elites at the center of the expanding state. According to Laitin, in this situation, there is a strong incentive for elites to allow themselves to be coopted. The local culture might even be regarded as “backward and poor” in the long run, when “peasants [have] become Frenchmen.” However, co-opted elites most probably retain the option to mobilize regional differences, should this seem worthwhile to put pressure on the center and achieve more favorable distributive patterns. The danger, however, is that ideologically uncontainable national aspirations could arise, while the elite’s intention was rather symbolic.

I do not think that is what we are witnessing in Ukraine these days – but it appears to be a valid point of view – from a Russian perspective.

Moreover, as opposed to the European non-Soviet countries in the last Russian empire, whose economies in the end even exploited the imperial center, especially by trading unreasonably priced low-quality manufactured goods for world-market priced fuels and agricultural products, the Ukrainian and Russian economies are far more integrated.

According to a number of reports, there are important remnants of command style economic structures in Ukraine that have not, and probably cannot be replaced soon, which ensures Russian influence and requires continous cooperation. Some commentators believe that Mr Yushenko, if elected, will visit the Kremlin as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, all this is happening at a time of profound Russian insecurity. For all the recent talk about an enlightened Empire, Mr Putin’s command-style Democracy in itself indicates rather lucidly that Russia is uncertain about its place in the world as well as any possible route of getting there. Yet there seems to be a general consensus that Russia, inexperienced as a nation-state, wants to remain some kind of integrative pole for its periphery, certainly for those countries with an ethnic Russian minority – the ‘near abroad’, as Laitin terms it. I read somewhere this week, Russia doesn’t want to join the EU (just as much as no one in the EU wants Russia in) or NATO (as long as the latter remains militarily operational), it just wants to be treated like a member of the club.

Russia and the West both need each other. The Russian economy needs hundreds of billions of Western investment. And the West, Europe, in particular, needs Russia’s energy resources and wants to develop a significant market. Most analysts predict occasional tensions while fundamental cooperation continues. All this indicates to me that Russia is more worried about another “grassroots-democracy” precedent than losing fundamental clout, even though, in the long run, more grassroots, more civil society, is just what Russia needs.

A “process victory” in Kyiv will certainly swing a lot of doors open in the West. But let’s not fool ourselves: EU membership for Ukraine is unlikely, not just for the foreseeable future, regardless of who wins the election.

And, maybe counterintuitively, that is why I think the Orange Revolution may become an opportunity for everyone: The example set in Ukraine might force the EU to develop a meaningful strategy of privileged partnership – if possible together with Russia – for the near abroad, or what I would call “interface countries.” Countries like Ukraine that have been and still are looking to both Russia and Western Europe: They are bridges on a political, economic, and cultural level.

And maybe not being the only “privileged partner” will – in time – even become an interesting option for Turkey – another true “interface country”, thereby solving one of the biggest current political challenges for the EU.

This may seem entirely unreasonable, drunk on too much orange juice. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I started believing that the Orange Revolution will not just be morally valuable, it might actually turn out to be a catalyst for solutions to some of the more important geopolitical challenges.

32 thoughts on “An Orange Solution, Even For Putin.

  1. Why not EU membership for Ukraine? If Romania can do it, surely Ukraine can?

    I don’t see why the West needs Russia in some fundamental way. Russia has resources, but they have to sell them to someone, and the West has the cash. As long as Russia maintains an imperial attitude towards its neighbors and mantains an authoritarian government, I don’t see how the EU and the West can avoid conflict.

    Ultimately, the EU stands for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and relatively equal relationships between nations. Russia’s government and political elites stand for none of these at the present time. So there will be conflict – it is unavoidable.

  2. “Interface countries”, the “near abroad” – those are the sort of terms Russian government officials like to use. Ask Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians what being an “interface country” feels like. Their countries are now securely part of the European Union – why shouldn’t Ukraine also obtain such security for its people, who are now wholeheartedly demonstrating that they desire it? Russia’s imperial days are over, and it’s the West’s duty to make that clear. In the new world order Russia must find its way alone, with its own resources and capital, and without “help” from smaller, exploited neighbours.

  3. “why shouldn’t Ukraine also obtain such security for its people”

    I don’t think Tobias is suggesting that they shouldn’t, there is an issue however of just how far the EU can expand how fast.

    There are other pressing candidates – eg Serbia, (Kosovo?), Macedonia, what about Georgia. I fully favour Turkey’s entry, and I think this is a bold step, but you can’t do everything all at once, no matter how much you think it is a good thing.

    “who are now wholeheartedly demonstrating that they desire it?”

    This is just the point, they are not *whole* heartedly demonstarting this desire: one half of the heart doesn’t seem too keen at all. This is really why Tobias is pretty much to the point. Some sort of compromise outcome is clearly inevitable here (in the best case scenario).

    I am old enough to have been in Paris in 68, and can remember how the streets were full of protesting people one moment, and how De Gaulle convincingly won elections the next.

    If there are new elections, whoever wins the country will remain deeply divided. Linguistic issues form part of the picture, the old ‘command economy’ structure mentioned by Tobias surely forms another. Many of those working in the heavy industrial and mining sectors in the east clearly fear job loss and deteriorating economic circumstances in the event of reforms, hence their continuing allegiance to the ‘ancien regime’.

    What happened in Bulgaria may not be too far from their minds.

    So this is complex, and will need careful handling.

    “In the new world order Russia must find its way alone”

    No, this is what must not happen. Personally I detest the near-gangster regime of Putin, and all its works. But Russia is simply too big, and its ability to cause harm too great, for it to be simply left to drift on its own.

    This is why Tobias is surely right that the EU is condemned to walk the tightrope between being firm with Russia, and at the same time trying to talk Russia in ‘out of the cold’.

    Curiously we appear to be trying to breach the legacy of two epochs here: 1939-1945 and the unfortunate geographical and ideological position of many in the Ukraine in the war against fascism in Europe, and 1945 – 1989 with all the associated cold war stereotypes, especially that of East/West which seems to keep raising its head from time to time in the current debates.

    One last point:

    “Their countries are now securely part of the European Union”.

    This issue isn’t as simple as it seems. In Lithuania and to a lesser extent in Latvia there are significant Russian speaking minorities who often suffer discrimination on linguistic grounds. This is an issue the EU needs to address, and addressing it should form part of what Tobias has in mind about dialogue with Russia. If we want to reassure the Russian speakers in Ukraine about the advantages of a closer relation with the EU, then Brussels could start by giving a higher priority to the defence of the basic rights of Russian speakers in the Baltic states.

  4. “This is just the point, they are not *whole* heartedly demonstarting this desire: one half of the heart doesn’t seem too keen at all”

    This is the line that the Russian government is currently trying to promote, in the hope of creating the fear of an “East-West” split, not only within Ukraine, but in Europe as a whole. We in the West should resist that line of thinking and arguing, for it is essentially directed both against Ukraine and against the West and its political structures and traditions.

    “But Russia is simply too big, and its ability to cause harm too great, for it to be simply left to drift on its own.”

    Why does it have to drift on its own? Why can’t it behave like a normal country, and develop politically and economically without constantly trying to interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbours, often threatening them and bullying them? If Europe can do anything to help Russia, it’s to teach Russia how to do that.

    “If there are new elections, whoever wins the country will remain deeply divided”

    Again, that is Moscow’s line. There is evidence that the country is *not* deeply divided in the way you suggest. There is a deep desire for stability and unity.

    “This issue isn’t as simple as it seems. In Lithuania and to a lesser extent in Latvia there are significant Russian speaking minorities who often suffer discrimination on linguistic grounds.”

    Where did you get this information? It is simply wrong. For one thing, Lithuania’s Russian-speaking minority is so small that it can’t be compared to the Russian-speaking minorities of Latvia and Estonia, which in each case account for over 30% of the total population. And in both Latvia and Estonia energetic efforts have been made in the last 10 years by the governments of both countries, in collaboration with the EU, to overcome the problems posed by linguistic diversity. Russian is so widely spoken in Riga that it can almost be said to be the city’s first language.

    Once again, in talking of “discrimination on linguistic grounds” you are merely repeating the Russian state propaganda.

  5. David,

    why would a pro-Western oligarch be any better for the Ukrainian people than a pro-Russian one? The only issue here is whether the US or Russia control Ukraine’s key industries. It might not be in the West’s interest to keep poking up all neighbouring countries of Russia, since this will provoke a general anti-Western feeling in Russia. And I’d rather have Russia as an ally than as an unstable, unfriendly nuclear power next door.

  6. The present situation in Ukraine is decidedly not about “US-Russia control of Ukraine’s key industries”, nor is it in any meaningful sense about a conflict between the United States and Russia. The present situation is about Ukraine, and the will of the Ukrainian people.

    As for “the West’s interest” in “not provoking anti-Western feeling in Russia”, I can only refer you back to the 1930s, when many people argued the same thing in relation to Germany. Appeasement of dictators doesn’t get good results, as a rule.

  7. What the EU should be doing is ruling in membership as a matter of principle. At present, it is ruled out as a matter of principle. The maximum Ukraine can aspired to, at present, is a special partnership, enjoying most of the EU’s four freedoms but with no say in shaping the institutions, policies or directives.

    What Brussels can and should do is open the door. That will place the burden of accession on Ukraine. Joining the EU entails a deep, far-reaching, nearly comprehensive transformation of state and society. There are quite literally tens of thousands of obligations to live up to.

    Ukraine’s shortcomings have been those of a failing or near-failing state. In that condition, it will have no chance at membership, nor should it. Joining the Union (or its predecessors) is hard work, as governments from Dublin to Ankara can attest.

    Ukraine should be allowed to succeed or fail on its own merits, not on the whim of Moscow. And Brussels should say so, loudly, clearly and immediately.

  8. Linguistic problems. Before one blames countries on discrimination of minorities and their languages one should have a look at the details . In Estonia another Baltic state there are Russian language schools. They have a long tradition. But growing up in a pure Russian speaking community lowers your chances for job opportunities in the Estonian society. 13 Years already past and the next Russian generation suffers from lacking Estonian language skills. Because of this and other reasons the government decided to widen the Estonian language lessons in schools. Widespread reaction in Russian media especially outside Estonia: Discrimination.

  9. Jens-Olaf, that is a strange account of events. Why does it lower their job opportunities that they speak Russian?

    Edward, I very much agree with you here.

  10. David McDuff, the linguistic problem is that the governments of the Baltic states insist to give citizenship to onetime Soviet Union citizens inhabiting their territory only if they take an Estonian/Latvian/Lithuanian language exam. Thus a major part of these minorities are second-class citizens, all in a crazy nationalist counter-policy to the assimilation policies of Stalin & successors. The EU tried but failed with a permanent solution (not least because many of its members also have official-language-demanding laws, and some even ignored language minorities – e.g. France), only cosmetic changes were made.

    This is something that was regularly covered in the (European) press I read over the years, so you flinging about accusations of people listening to ‘Russian propaganda’ sound strange to me. Worse, you simply dismiss at least 42% of Ukrainians and prefer to talk only about the opinions of the Russian government.

    As for your bland denial of regional differences in Ukraine, I just suggest you consult the map in Tobias’s post two-three days ago – don’t look at Eastern Ukraine, look at Western Ukraine, and then tell us 90+% vote per oblast for one candidate is impossible.

  11. “the linguistic problem is that the governments of the Baltic states insist to give citizenship to onetime Soviet Union citizens inhabiting their territory only if they take an Estonian/Latvian/Lithuanian language exam.”

    That seems a perfectly reasonable requirement. Why do you think it isn’t?

    “As for your bland denial of regional differences in Ukraine”

    I made no such “bland denial”. What I said was that there is a deep desire for stability and unity in Ukraine. That’s quite a different matter.
    Of course there are regional differences – but those are not be equated with the concept of the “East-West split” so eagerly promoted by the Kremlin.

  12. DoDo

    You are right,that`s my own language problem. Russian as mother tongue is not the point, but in many job descriptions Estonian is required. Obvisiously in the media itself like TV stations, broadcasting and the whole service area.

  13. “That seems a perfectly reasonable requirement. Why do you think it isn’t?”

    Obviously, because they aren’t new immigrants, but already lived there when the new state formed. Duh.

  14. “in many job descriptions Estonian is required. Obvisiously in the media itself like TV stations, broadcasting and the whole service area.”

    Jens-Olaf, that in essence is the point: where large language minorities exist, they should have media in their language and jobs in their language.

    Fostering bilinguality could, indeed, form part of the solution in the Baltic – but not with the denial of citizenship.

  15. David: “I made no such “bland denial”.”

    Well, you said this in response to a description of regional difference:

    “This is the line that the Russian government is currently trying to promote,”

    BTW, I repeat, I don’t care shit about what the Russian government is trying to promote, I care more about what at least 42% of Ukrainians, overwhelmingly in the Southern and Southeastern parts, think or fear. BTW, what Edward promoted was just the opposite of an East-West split.

  16. David McDuff

    It must be added that all Russians who lived in Estonia before Soviet time and their descendants got the citizenship automaticly as well as the majority. This is very, very important. The re-establishment of the Estonian state followed a strict legalistic way. It was not based on ethnic rules.

  17. “It was not based on ethnic rules.”

    Nominally. But why limit it to those who lived there before the Soviet Union? To exclude most Russians.

  18. Why can’t it behave like a normal country, and develop politically and economically without constantly trying to interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbours, often threatening them and bullying them?

    To a country the size and might of Russia interfering into countries of the “near abroad” where significant linguistic minorities live is normal behavior.
    To prevent Russia caring and acting on behalf of these minorities would require putting pressure on Russia.

  19. This linguistic situation certainly is giving us problems isn’t it.

    Let’s take another example, not subject to Russian government propaganda: Spain.

    Next year the regional government in the Basque country may have a referendum on ‘self-determination’. This could be a first move towards independence.

    Now I wouldn’t like to speculate on whether we will one day see an independent Basque state within the EU or not, but it might help us understand what the problems are for Russian speakers in the Baltic States if we consider what would be the possition of current Spanish speaking citizens in any new Basque State (call this a ‘counter factual’ if you will) if Euskera (which is a non indo-European language) were to become the official language, and existing citizens who are Spanish speakers were expected to take an exam in it.

    I think it is important to recognise that we are not talking about first generation (new) immigrants here, so a comparison with new immigrants to the US or the UK learning English is not entirely appropriate.

    I am not saying it is undesireable for Spanish speakers to learn Euskera, or Russian speakers in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or the Ukraine to learn the relevant languages, but that a certain sensitivity is necessary: centralised models are not appropriate in pluri-national societies, and rights of minorities need to be guaranteed. This is the point.

  20. “Why can’t it behave like a normal country”

    Because it is run by people who bear an uncanny resemblance to gangsters might be one of the reasons, because it lacks any in-depth and meaningful democratic traditions might be another. I am not condoning any of this behaviour, but suggesting that ‘real politik’ could mean we need to take this as a given to work round, while trying to change this state of affairs.

    “and develop politically and economically”

    This is, in my view, unlikely to happen. Russia is about to implode demographically. Population is expected to decline from around 150 million at present to nearer a 100 million by 2050. Historically speaking Russia has missed the boat, the window of opportunity. This means it is likely to become decadent, and a decadent ‘bear’, controlled by small groups of Oligarchs with large quantities of money coming from a huge natural resource endowment and directed to certain specified purposes (eg armaments) can become a very dangerous bear indeed. Wounded animals are ofen not ‘user friendly’.

  21. The Spanish example is interesting, because Euskera is undoubtedly the original language of the region, and the Spanish state worked very hard to kill it. So what you are asking the Basques to do is give up their idea of a Euskera-speaking state and accept that fact that Spanish speakers are allowed to reap the benefits of past efforts to extirpate Euskera, but if Euskera is revived, it must reach some accomodation with Spanish.

    A similar situation is true in the Baltic states. The Soviet Union deliberately encouraged the emigration of Russian-speakers to these countries to lock down their citizenry in the Soviet Union and prevent them from gaining independence. It also killed and exiled a fair number of the original inhabitants (10% in the case of Estonia). So now that this rampant social and ethnic engineering has been accomplished, the Baltic states just have to live with it and let the Russian-speakers stay, use their language, etc.

    Note also that the language test is a perfectly reasonable way to show that the Russian-speaking population is willing to identify with the new state. A large number of the Russian emigrants were members or ex-member of the Soviet security forces and their dependents and thus are likely to continue to have irredentist longings.

    Another interesting point is that the Baltic states were never officially recognized by the US as being incorporated into the Soviet Union and indeed had governments in exile for the entire period, which were duly reconstituted after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus, the Baltic states are under no obligation to recognize as citizens the Russian-speaking emigrants who came since WWII and could expel them en masse to the countries they came from.

    So, no, I don’t think requiring a language exam is too much to ask. Since Russian-language schools are well-funded and prevalent in the country, and since the national survival of the Baltic languages is by no means assured, efforts at positive discrimination toward the Baltic languages in the Baltic states to make up for 50 years of oppression don’t seem too much to ask.

  22. “all Russians who lived in Estonia before Soviet time and their descendants got the citizenship automaticly as well as the majority. This is very, very important. The re-establishment of the Estonian state followed a strict legalistic way. It was not based on ethnic rules.”

    Actually I would like to note Jens-Olaf that I specifically didn’t mention Estonia in my original comment, since I had the impression that the situation there was somewhat different.

    But can you say the same as this for Latvia and Lithuania?

    I appreciate that the Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians etc also find themselves in a complicated situation, and I am sure the Russian government does it’s best to make your lives as difficult as possible. In all of these senses I am with you. But we now need to move beyond the old battles, to a new, multi ethnic, multi cultural and pluri-national Europe, where all Europeans, both new and old, can feel at home.

    Ultimately it is natural that those Estonian citizens who don’t eventually speak Estonian will have more difficulty finding work, especially in white collar areas, but there needs to be a transition period.

    Actually I would take another example from Spain here: Catalonia. In fact Spanish is now only taught as a second language in the vast majority of Catalan schools, with the majority of subjects being taught in Catalan. Despite all attempts from Madrid to stir things up by crying ‘discrimination’ there have been singularly few complaints from Spanish speaking parents. Why? Because they recognise in general that their children cannot use this language at home and that the school environment gives them this opportunity in order that they can later improve their employment potential.

    So handled sensitively all this can be defused. But the first step in this defusing is the absolute guarantee of the rights of all citizens, and a sensitive handling of any transition period.

  23. oh, so many comments here

    DoDo
    All Baltic states restored granted citizenship to all Russians living there 1940 and ther descendants (!) too. What is a much bigger number.

    And do not forget those Russian speaking people who are too proud and would never have chosen the other citizenship than the Soviet or Russian or they belong to.

    I am optimistic, the signs for integration not assimilation are strong. There are serious attemps to bring the Russian speaking students out of the NorthEast corner, where they are majority, to the national university in Tartu. There are changes in the kindergarden education, there are changes in the Sport. I am playing streetball every sunday (in Germany) with some Russians and German Russians from Riga, and guess, they are wearing the Latvian soccer national trickot.

  24. “All Baltic states restored granted citizenship to all Russians living there 1940 and ther descendants (!) too.”

    Well I would hope so, but what about the ones who migrated after 1940?

  25. Edward

    you are asking for more information, but that needs more explanation, too much for this comment line. I will e-mail you an article from the
    Estonian Institute about Ethnicity in Estonia.
    There you can read about the different problems, social situation of Ukrainians and Russians in Estonia.

  26. On the subject of the language laws, I don’t disagree with them in their fundamental principles. In Latvia and Estonia, Soviet rule serve the role of displacing Estonian and Latvian from a rightful place in the public sphere, imposing a Russian-dominated bilingualism which weighed more heavily on the Estonians and Letts than on the various Russophone communities. Once independence came, if the situation continued an unstable situation would have existed, particularly if the same low rates of fluency in the national languages under the Soviet era continued to exist after the restoration of independence.

    Compare it to Qu?bec. If it hadn’t been for the various language laws which established French in a more prominent position in Montr?al and channelled immigrants to French-language schools, it’s quite possible that you would have had a very strong xenophobic backlash against immigration: if they’re going to become English Canadians and alter the linguistic balance . . . The language laws gave Qu?bec the chance to become a multicultural Francophone society.

    I’d argue that the Estonian and Latvian laws did likewise. A situation where the language of an immigrant minority closely associated with an exceptionally unpopular period of foreign rule could have deteriorated badly.

  27. David McDuff, one of the most rabid Russophobes around, and a few others personages argue that it is OK to discriminate against Russian speakers in Estonia and Latvia because Soviet Union had broken a language equilibrium by “importing” migrants into cities. One who is unaware of the situation may assume by reading this nonsense that pre-Soviet cities in Estonia and Latvia were free from Russian speakers or the dominant language was in one case Estonian and in another Latvian. So the ongoing discrimination is just a matter of historic justice.

    Let’s take a credible source that would show breakdown or relevant percentage of ethnic groups BEFORE Soviets. We know that the Soviets or Bolsheviks came to power in the course of the WWI, the so-called ethnic states, interwar ethnic dictatorships of Estonia and Latvia, are not representative of the history. They existed just for 20 years and were created de facto by Bolsheviks who were the first and in some cases the only ones to recognize the new ethic satrapies.

    Let’s take Encyclopedia Britannica from the 1911, the one of the most comprehensive and authoritative editions, printed before World War I, and look up…. say Riga. I see disgusting David McDuff is upset that Latvian is a minority language in Riga. So how were things then, BEFORE Soviets.

    So …. (http://30.1911encyclopedia.org/R/RI/RIGA.htm)

    QUOTE RIGA (Esth. Ria-Lin), a seaport of Russia, 366 m. by rail S.W. of St Petersburg, the capital of the government of Livonia. The Gulf of Riga, 100 m. long and 60 m. in width, with shallow waters of inconsiderable salinity (greatest depth, 22 fathoms), freezes to some extent every year. The town is situated at the southern extremity of the gulf, 8 m. above the mouth of the Dvina, which brings Riga, by means of inland canals, into water communication with the basins of the Dnieper and the Volga. ./….Riga consists of four partsthe old town and the St Petersburg and Moscow suburbs on the right bank of
    ….
    (Population) – The population, which was 102,590 in 1867, increased to 168,728 in I88I~and to 282,943 in 1897, so that Riga now ranks seventh in the empire in order of population;

    ….. 47% of the inhabitants are Germans, 25% Russians and 23% Letts, with a small admixture of Esthonians, Jews, &c.
    UNQUOTE

    Hence in the pre-Soviet era in urban areas the share of ethnic Latvian (Lettish, and Estonian in the Northern Russian Baltic province) population was not higher than 25% , if we just take Baltic Province’s largest city as example. Since de facto ethnic cleansing occurred in the cities between 1919 and 1945, what happened after 1945 was restoration of the ethnic balance in the cities. In fact under Soviet Union percentage of both Estonians and Latvians (ethnic Esthes and Letts) in the urban populations exceeded pre-Soviet era levels. David McDuff claims (same claim is put forth by Estonian ethnofasists) that no discrimantion occurred because those Russians or Russian speakers (mainly Jews) who are descendant of citizens of interwar republics (the phony states that existed from 1920 until 1940) got citizenship automatically. This is a technicality – territories of Estonia and Latvia underwent most thorough ethnic cleansing in between war period. Germans were repatriated, “sent home” in the 1930s (some tacing local ancestry to 1200s!) Russians were driven or exterminated while Russians speaking Jews – suffice it to say it was safer for a Jew to be in Nazi Germany than in Estonia and Latvia. The ethnic cleansing there was complete (and it was perpetrated by the Germans). Nazis used ethnic Estonian and Latvian extermination squds in Russia, Poland and elsewhere.

    Modern Estonia and Latvia trace their descent not from interwar satrapies but geographically and symbolically (just compare Estonian court of arms to that of Estonia as province or gouvernment in the Russian Empire) from provinces of Estonia, Livonia and Courland. Under Russian Constitution of 1906 (The Fundamental Law of 1906), all subjects or citizens were declared equal regardless of their ethnicity. Since Bolshevik coup was illegal, then the subsequent creation and recognition of Estonia and Latvia by the Bolsheviks was illegal. The second recognition of Estonia and Latvia “independence” by Yeltsin’s (Eltsin) Russia is of dubious legality but what was totally illegal was stripping off hundreds of thousands of people of their civil rights including the right to use Russian language publicly.

    I see Estonia-Latvia discrimination issue as the most serious obstacle to Russia’s integration in Europe. It is the litmus test of the future. I also think most Russians don’t realize it yet, don’t pay attention to it and don’t even imagine what a great future headache are those so-called Estonia and Latvia.

    I believe Russia should democratize, become more normal, and expand ties – up to forming strategic alliance – with France and then with Germany, and not with EU in general because it is no longer possible.

  28. Hektor Bim ?Another interesting point is that the Baltic states were never officially recognized by the US as being incorporated into the Soviet Union and indeed had governments in exile for the entire period, which were duly reconstituted after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus, the Baltic states are under no obligation to recognize as citizens the Russian-speaking emigrants who came since WWII and could expel them en masse to the countries they came from.”

    This is an interesting point that is very popular with Baltic ethnofascists but tells only half of the story, the less significant part of it.. First of Soviet Union is not Russia, as far as Russian State is concerned territories of what is today’s Estonia and Latvia have been in Russia’s for almost 300 years, not for 50 or between 1940 and 1991. These territories were not occupied but ceded by the Kingdom of Sweden by the terms of treaty of Nystad in 1700s. United States NEVER questioned Russia’s undisputed sovereignty over Baltics. In 1917 Bolsheviks overthrew Russian government in a coup. Faced with the perspective of a joint Entente and white Russian counteroffensive from the west and possibly collapse of the entire German front, they signed two treaties – one at Brest ceding huge territory to the Central Powers and second one, later, after those powers collapsed with newly formed Estonia and Latvia, which they of course indirectly helped to create. Recognition of Estonia and Latvia for Bolsheviks was tantamount to creating a buffer in the West. Of course, Bolsheviks, Trotsky and Lenin had NO right to sign that treaty. Neither United States nor any power in Europe or elsewhere recognized Bolshevik “treaty” of Dorpat (Iuriev). In fact Bolsheviks were in a legal limbo – United States NEVER recognized legality of 1917 putsch although de facto it extended diplomatic recognition to the USSR in 1933, I think. Stalin annexed Baltics to the Soviet Union. He did not annex them to Russia for they legally never became independent until Yeltsin’s dubious recognition. The Baltic ethnofascists claim that if Soviet occupation was illegal, then all acts of the Soviet Union on their territory, Soviet treaty and laws are illegal, and the so called “migrants” there or people “of wrong ethnicity” are also there illegaly. This is fine as long Russia does not do the same and does not say that yes indeed, ALL Soviet actions were illegal, beginning with 1917, AND not with 1940. Russian state has not done it yet for one reason I believe – it would throw whole state of balance and may cause immense restitution claims inside the country.

  29. Edward — Because it is run by people who bear an uncanny resemblance to gangsters might be one of the reasons, because it lacks any in-depth and meaningful democratic traditions

    You really that mean Spain or Portugal or, let’s say, Estonia has greater or much “deeper” democratic traditions than does Russia?

    Edward — mplode demographically. Population is expected to decline from around 150 million at present to nearer a 100 million by 2050. Historically speaking Russia has missed the boat, the window of opportunity.

    In fact Russia has the most dramatic historic population growth rate among Western countries. In the early 1700s Russia’s population was 9 million, I think’s Spain’s was 12 and France’s 20. 300 years later France’s population is around 60 (58.60), Spain’s 40 (39.30) and Russia’s 140 (145). Russia’s territory is SMALLER than in 1700s. In fact if count historic Russian lands which ended in Ukraine and other places, population is closer to 170 million. Over centuries Russia’s demographic performance has been one of the best in Europe, probably Iceland did better but I am not sure about that.

  30. ?It was not based on ethnic rules.?

    Nominally. But why limit it to those who lived there before the Soviet Union? To exclude most Russians. Posted by: DoDo

    It is not so, DoDo, it is much worse – Estonia and Latvia DID NOT exist before the Soviet Union, they were indirectly created by Soviet Bolsheviks and the Soviets were the first to recognize them. The discrimination is directed against certain arbitrarily set period – 1940. They cannot deny citizenship to those who was before 1940, because few of those people are left after ethnic cleansing in WWII.

  31. David McDuff- “As for ?the West?s interest? in ?not provoking anti-Western feeling in Russia?, I can only refer you back to the 1930s, when many people argued the same thing in relation to Germany.”

    I did not get it . Do you mean, that Germany, a nation far more Western (in civilizational sense) than UK or US, was suffering from anti-Western feelinsg in the 1930s? Was it some form of self-hatred?

    It is also revealing how your Russophobic self equates feelings of people, popular sentiments, with dictator appeasement.

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