VIENNA — Modest Kolerov, who serves as President Vladimir Putin’s senior advisor on cultural ties with foreign countries, says that “there are no pro-Russian forces” in post-Soviet states and that most Russians posing as experts on these countries are more interested in telling them what to do than in finding out what is going on in them.
Kolerov, whose functions in the Presidential Administration specifically include “the defense of the rights of Russian citizens and compatriots in the post-Soviet states” made these remarks in a June 29 speech to Moscow’s Bilingua Café that was posted online yesterday (http://www.polit.ru/lectures/2....
Asked to speak about “what we know” concerning the post-Soviet states, the Kremlin advisor said that he was tempted to say “we know nothing,” a “provocative” response to a “provocative” question but one that he suggested contained “not a little” of the truth about Moscow’s understanding of its neighbors.
There are many reasons for that, he continued, but among the most important is the fact that these so-called students of these countries “conceive themselves not as experts [who must observe and gather information] but instead as spiritual leaders who must bring some truth or other” to one or another of these countries
On many questions, Kolersov added, he had discovered since assuming his current post that there is no information available on these countries or that the data that do exist are poorly presented and analyzed. And on the basis of his own experience and reflections, he listed 12 theses that he said described the contours of post-Soviet realities:
His first thesis about the former Soviet republics is that as a group, they will be able to come together on a voluntary basis only after each and every one of them feels itself completely indepdent and capable of acting on its one. Any effort to force that development will almost certainly backfire.
Kolerov’s second thesis is that the post-Soviet states divide on the basis of their independence and sovereignty. Some claimed it through their own efforts, while others got it as a result of international recognition. If the first should speak of “we the people,” he said, the second should say only that “they permitted it.”
His third thesis is that whatever people in Moscow may hope, there are now “no pro-Russian forces in the post-Soviet space.” Those who offer themselves as candidates for this role are “marginal figures” who will not be likely to play any significant role in the immediate future.
His fourth thesis is that Moscow officials must understand that nationalism is the predominant ideology in all the post-Soviet countries except for the Russian Federation. And his fifth thesis is that due to rising military expenditures by many of these countries, the post-Soviet space is becoming “a zone of rapid and intensive militarization.”
Kolerov’s sixth thesis is that throughout this region, the secret services and intelligence agencies have emerged as “active political players,” whose power has been sufficient to promote a change of government in Lithuania and to push policy changes elsewhere.
His seventh thesis is that over the last 16 years, the societies of the post-Soviet states have been completely de-internationalized, that is, they have ceased to view Russian as the language of interethnic communication and have ceased to focus on promoting good relations among ethnic groups.
Kolerov’s eighth thesis is that in the post-Soviet countries, clan-based economics and clan-based politics are even more marked than in the Russian Federation itself, a situation he stresses that is true even among those who are already members of the European Union or who hope to join that grouping in the future.
His ninth thesis is that the international community needs to focus on the fact that all the post-Soviet states except for Russia are unitary states and thus the appointment of governors and other things the West complains about in the case of Moscow are things it should be upset about elsewhere.
His 10th thesis is that political parties are extremely weak and embryonic in all post-Soviet states, with most of them “constructed according to the fuhrer-principle or along clan or mafia lines.” And Kolerov’s 11th is that economic competition among these states and between them in Russia is increasing and will likely continue to do so.
Finally, Kolerov’s 12th thesis is that however independent-minded the leaderships of the post-Soviet states are, they are still linked together in a dependency relationship with the Russian Federation either because of transit issues or longstanding economic ties that are unlikely to end anytime soon.
Not surprisingly Kolerov’s remarks provoked a lively discussion, with many of the participants dissenting from one or another of his theses. But Kolerov held his own, and although he acknowledged in response to questions that the specific theses he had advanced were his own, he said that most reflect “a consensus” among Kremlin leaders.
That remark suggests that his ideas, regardless of whether they are true or whether other commentators or officials agree with them, are likely at least in the near future to play a significant role in defining how Moscow will view its neighbors and what policies the Russian government will adopt toward them.
Kremlin official says ‘no pro-Russian forces’ exist in post-Soviet states