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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
January 21, 2016

Publication: Windows on Eurasia
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Economic Crisis Putting Russia at Risk of New Wave of Xenophobic Attacks, Brod Says
Staunton, VA, January 21, 2016 -- Many Russians now suffering from sharp declines in their standard of living or even unemployment may direct their anger at migrants and representatives of non-Russian nationalities, according to Aleksandr Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights.

The recent beating of an ethnic Kumyk from Daghestan on a regional train near Moscow by ten men armed with baseball bats is an example of what could happen, Brod says, although he points out that such attacks so far at least appear relatively rare according to Russian government statistics.

“Undoubtedly,” the human rights activist says, “one must search for in this incident among other things an ethnic component because the youths were looking for representatives and attacked precisely them, according to witnesses.” One needs to ask, Brod continues, why there were no guards on the trains given the threat of extremist activity.

He says that he does “not exclude the possibility” that this attack was in fact carried out by “some radical youth group” or that it will be followed by others given the tendency of people to want to identify some other group as being responsible for their own problems. All too often, such objects of attention and attack can be “migrants and representatives of national minorities.”

Consequently, even though the numbers of such attacks remain relatively small up to now, there is a very real danger that “an outburst of radical nationalism and xenophobia has again become possible.”

After Vladimir Putin seized Crimea and invaded Ukraine, many Russians redirected their anger from migrants and minorities toward Ukrainians. But now that Moscow is carrying out a new charm offensive about Ukrainians, it is all too likely they will again focus on the traditional objects of their anger -- especially as the economic situation has become much worse.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
'Kadyrovshchina' Will Remain a Threat as Long as Chechnya is Part of Russia, Skobov Says
Staunton, VA, January 21, 2016 - Many Russian opposition figures assume that Ramzan Kadyrov must be held accountable for his statements and removed from office before he can push Russian toward Stalinism, Aleksandr Skobov says; but those who say so clearly fail to recognize the nature of the threat Kadyrov’s rule poses and the radical measures needed to overcome it.

“The Chechen state built by Ramzan Kadyrov is a state of death squadrons and tonton macoutes, something absolutely unthinkable in a Stalinist state,” the Moscow commentator says, even though many think that establishing a state of that kind with Vladimir Putin as its head is his goal.

In a Stalinist state, people are “destroyed in complete correspondence with the letter and the spirit of existing laws,” and the arbitrariness and oppression of the system are implemented “only by officially authorized organs created according to all formal procedures.”

Kadyrov’s state, Skobtsov says, “is not the state of Stalin.”

Instead, Kadyrov’s state is “the state of Papa Doc Duvalier;” and what is most serious, it is ever more spreading its practice throughout Russia.” In order to prevent that, Russians must face up to the fact that Putin is not going to defend Russia from Kadyrov, that holding Kadyrov responsible isn’t sufficient, and that even removing him from office won’t be enough.

Instead, Russians must recognize that “the problem of Chechnya is that it is not Russia and will now never become one. The last Chechen wars inflicted a trauma on the coexistence of Chechens and Russians in one state that is incompatible with life.” Instead, what exists now might be described as “life after death.”

Such an existence is possible “only in the ugly and repulsive form of Kadyrovshchina [the style of rule of Kadyrov] which has introduced the poison of fascism into the entire body of Russia.” As a result, the commentator says, “Putin and the Kadyrovshchina are indivisible,” and “Kadyrovshchina is the direct product of the Russian occupation of Chechnya.”

“This is the only possible means of the formal retention of Chechnya within Russia because this is the form of the survival of the Chechen people under conditions of Russian occupation.” Consequently, to address Kadyrovshchina, one must address its source – “the Russian occupation of Chechnya” that Putin re-imposed.

“Russia, of course, could formally remove Kadyrov from power.” It could do so not because of his words but because of the actions that he and others have taken there under his rule. “But removing Kadyrov from power will be insufficient to end the Kadyrovshchina. At a minimum, there will have to be a disarming and reforming of all his fighters who form a single organism of illegality and terror. And this certainly would involve a new war.”

“Can [such a war] be justified?” Skobtsov asks. “Only in one case: if it will not be a war for retaining Chechnya under Russian rule. Otherwise it will only give birth to a new Kadyrovshchina.” Chechnya must be offered independence “after the defeat of Kadyrov’s military machine. This is all that Russia can do for the Chechen people.”

As sometimes happens, Skobtsov’s important if provocative article has appeared at the same time as two others that should be considered alongside it. In the first, Ilyas Akhmadov, who served as the foreign minister of the Republic of Ichkeria presents his new book The Chechen Struggle.

In it, he shows how Chechnya could have evolved in a vastly more positive direction if it had not been for the wars launched against that North Caucasus republic first by Boris Yeltsin and then by Vladimir Putin and for the tragic ignorance and indifference of the West to what occurred.

And in the second, Victor Buravlev, a commentator from St. Petersburg, raises the even more provocative question: he asks whether “Russia after Putin” is possible because Putin and Putinism are part and parcel of that country’s tragedy. Indeed, he says, the population of the place where Russia is designated on the map can survive “only after the disappearance of Russia, unqualifiedly and completely.”

If that happens, he suggests, there will be “a chance to build something new and to break through the vicious circle, to break the chain of revivals and to destroy the matrix. But to recognize this is complicated” because that state is “inside” Russians even if they “don’t like” that very much.
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
‘Liberals Crave Death’ and Other Kadyrov Slogans

Staunton, VA, January 21, 2016 -- Now that Vladimir Putin’s press secretary has said that there is no reason for thinking Ramzan Kadyrov has said anything untoward about the opposition and that no one should blow out of proportion what the Chechen leader wants, it may be useful to consider another set of indicators of just where Kadyrov and perhaps Putin want to take Russia.

In the face of much critical commentary and plans by Russian opposition groups to hold demonstrations against the Chechen leader, Kadyrov’s people are organizing a meeting in support of the Chechen leader and his proposals to be held in Grozny’s Alley of Heroes on Saturday.

Two days ago, the Chechen nationalities, foreign affairs, press and information ministry put out a list of 60 suggested slogans for those who will be attending. They make for most interesting reading. Below is a selection:

· “Only in Russia do criminals call themselves the opposition”

· “Away with Khodorkovsky and [Others Like Him]”

· “The Fifth Column’s Goal is the Destruction of the Country”

· “Let’s Cleanse Russia of Parasites”

· “Don’t Whine, Liberal; Your End is Coming”

· “There’s No Place for Traitors in Russia but there is always one in the fifth column”

· “In a great country, there is no place for liberal trash”

· “Betraying the country is a crime with no statute of limitations”

· “The worse the situation is in Russia, the better the parasites live”

· “Liberals of all kinds crave crises, protests and death”

Presumably in a few days, Kremlin spokesmen and others both in Russia and abroad who accept the Putin line will explain why no one should be concerned about such comments and perhaps why they are simply the justified anger of the Russian population – a disturbing echo of the arguments Stalin’s henchmen used in the 1930s at the time of the Great Terror.