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Window on Eurasia: Are Russia’s Non-Russian Republics Now Safe from Amalgamation?

posted by eagle on February, 2013 as ANALYSIS / OPINION


Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 15 – Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, says that it is time to restart the amalgamation of the country’s federal subjects because there are too many of them. But like President Vladimir Putin in December, she suggested that nothing will happen overnight and that the largest non-Russian republics may not be affected.

            Speaking in Kazan on Wednesday, Matviyenko said that the current number of federal subjects – 83 – is "too large” and that the differences in economic and social terms among them are too great. Consequently, some of them should be combined together by referendum, although she refused to say which ones (

            "Kommersant,” in reporting the speaker’s remarks yesterday, queried Valery Tishkov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and one of the co-authors of the country’s new nationality strategy document about where amalgamation is likely to take place and, more important, where it is unlikely to.

            He said that it would be useful ...

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Window on Eurasia: Fewer than Half of Russian Citizens Identify as ‘Rossiyane,’ Regional Development Ministry Says

posted by eagle on as ANALYSIS / OPINION


Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 17 – The replacement of Cyrillic with the Latin script has proceeded so far in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Moldova that few Moscow authors display concern. These writers are still contesting Kazakhstan’s plan to make this shift, but they seem especially concerned about the new interest in the Latin script in neighboring Belarus.

                On the one hand, these writers routinely point out, in Belarus, Russian has been declared the second state language by the republic constitution and therefore it is "natural” that both languages should be written in Cyrillic. And on the other, they argue that any shift to the Latin script slows the process of the integration of the union state the two countries have formed.

            But despite these Russian arguments, many Belarusians are interested in preserving their national language and see the Latin script as another way not only to do that but to help Mensk expand its cooperation with the West and not just Moscow.  And there is evidence ...

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Window on Eurasia: Fewer than Half of Russian Citizens Identify as ‘Rossiyane,’ Regional Development Ministry Says

posted by eagle on as ANALYSIS / OPINION


Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 16 – Fewer than half of the citizens of the Russian Federation now identify themselves as "Rossiyane,” the official term, preferring instead ethnic and religious groupings, and as a result, Moscow is considering two new programs to boost the preferred non-ethnic and non-religious identification in the future.

            At present, the Regional Development Ministry says that only 44 percent of Russian citizens identify themselves as "Rossiyane,” an unsatisfactory situation from Moscow’s point of view that has prompted that ministry to come up with two possible programs to increase that number (

            The less expensive variant, one that would cost 36.6 billion rubles (1.2 billion US dollars), would plan to increase the level of "Rossiyane” identification to 64 percent by 2018. The more expensive one, costing 124.6 billion rubles (4 billion US dollars), would seek to increase that share to 86 percent.

            In both cases, five federal administrations – the Regional Development Ministry, the Education and Science Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the State Construction ...

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Window on Eurasia: Moscow Court Orders Officials to Respond to Protester Appeals

posted by eagle on as ANALYSIS / OPINION


Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 17 – Russian officials have ignored a 2004 law requiring them to respond to appeals lodged by demonstrators, but now some protesters and their lawyers are using the courts to force at least some government agencies to respond, a development that some say opens the way to a new relationship between the Russian state and Rusian society.

            On the "Osobaya bukhva” portal yesterday, journalist Vladimir Titov notes that it is widely believed that "’meetings do not decide anything,’” but he points out that according to the terms of the 2004 act, that is not the case. And he adds that some protesters are now invoking that law (

            Elena Lukyanova, Dmitry Bykov and Sergey Parkhomenko, the organizers of a February 4, 2012, action, have gone to court to try to force the Moscow mayor’s office, the Central Electoral Commission and the Investigation Committee to respond to their meetings demands for action.

            They and their lawyers cite the June 19, 2004 law, "On ...

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The Days of Engaging Russia Are Over

posted by eagle on as ANALYSIS / OPINION

Obama Won't Go Out of His Way to Please Russia

U.S. President Barack Obama is a cool customer on foreign policy. When faced with a quid pro quo that advances his political goals and U.S. interests, he opts for the transactional.

That's why Obama's White House, although disgusted by PresidentVladimir Putin's anti-­American overkill, may still re-engage with Russia where it seems to matter. This month, senior U.S. officials, starting with Vice President Biden in Munich, will test the potential for re-­engagement. But they will not sweat for it.

Obama's interest in Russia is constrained by his limited time to secure a legacy, Russia's dwindling ability to deliver and Putin's turn to domestic political repression and anti-­American posturing as a new source of popular legitimacy.

Obama may see a foreign policy legacy in a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Moscow. But he may find its price prohibitive. Russia is not really interested in more nuclear cuts, particularly with tactical nukes in the mix. Arms control runs counter to Putin's strategy of arms buildup as one of the ways to shore up his domestic support. New reductions would require canceling some strategic programs, ...

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