Sunday, November 29, 2015

Warsaw Pact a Model for Organization of Collective Security Treaty Countries, Moscow Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Aleksey Chichkin, an economist who specializes on military production issues, says that Moscow should revive the kind of cooperation among the military-industrial complexes that existed among the members of the Warsaw Pact for the countries that are members of the post-Soviet Organization for the Collective Security Treaty.

            Such a proposal, made in the current issue of the influential “Voenno-Promyshlenny kuryer,” suggests some within the Moscow defense bureaucracy now expect current East-West tensions to remain high for an extended period of time and are thinking about how to organize production under those conditions (

            Sixty years ago this year, immediately after the creation of the Warsaw Pact, Chichkin writes, the member states agreed with Moscow on dividing up defense industrial production both to achieve new efficiencies and to save money on moving raw materials and semi-finished production around. “This experience can be used today,” he writes.

            By 1958, the plans for this were fully developed, something that meant that Warsaw Pact members other than Russia were able to boost their contribution to the common defense of that alliance from 25 percent in 1961 to more than 40 percent at the end of the 1970s, something that removed some of the burden on the Soviet economy.

            The importance of this cooperation, Chichkin says, is underscored by NATO efforts to disrupt it not only by pushing Albania to break away from the pact and thus close a Soviet base there but also by its promotion of popular risings in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland which, among other things, disrupted this shared defense production.

            Chichkin describes the evolution of the planning process among defense producers in Warsaw Pact countries and argues that “such a unique experience can be completely used for the development of military-industrial cooperation in the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty countries.”

            Any signs that Moscow may be pushing for this idea with these countries or even more than they may be agreeing to it will not only highlight Russia’s current economic difficulties but also show that in this area as well, Vladimir Putin is taking another page from the Soviet past in order to strengthen Moscow’s position and his own.

More than Half of Young Daghestanis Want to Live in an Islamic State, Studies Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Just over half of all Daghestani university students would prefer to live in a theocratic Islamic state, and almost a third of them are ready to take to the streets to protest if the existing Russian state imposes laws that “contradict their faith,” according to a new study.

            That study, by Sergey Murtuzaliyev (“The North Caucasus in Search of Identity and the National Identity of Russia,” in The Russian Caucasus: Problems, Searches, Decisions (1915, pp. 406-417, in Russian) available at, reflects the coming together of three factors.

            First, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, people in the North Caucasus like those elsewhere in the Russian Federation have been trying to find a new national identity or national idea and have been trying on many things for size, including some ideas introduced by people from abroad.

            Second, and not surprisingly, many of them are looking to religion, seeing it as a definer of their national cultures -- even if they did not begin as believers and even if as a result of Soviet anti-religious efforts, they did not know much about their faith and thus had to depend on various sources to decide what they meant.

            And third, many of them who viewed religion as a national marker have been affected by the pretensions of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church to define how the state will behave toward the population have turned to Muslim leaders as a way of defending their own national identities.

            Twice in the last century, the peoples of Russia have lost their sense of identity, first after 1917 and then after 1991. Over the last two decades, they have been struggling to come up with one; and many have turned to religion as a basis for this, Russians to Orthodoxy and the traditionally Muslim nations to Islam.

            Murtuzaliyev suggests this is natural given that many Russians view Orthodoxy as a cultural marker rather than a matter of faith just as many traditionally Muslim peoples view Islam in much the same way.  But the problem arises, he argues, because religious leaders are not prepared to sit still for that and because the actions of the dominant faith generate a  backlash.

            As new Muslim leaders have emerged in the post-Soviet Caucasus, they have argued that identity isn’t enough: people must believe.  And in this, they have had an unexpected and unintended ally: the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church which thinks the same thing and is prepared to use the power of the state to impose its views.

            Indeed, by pushing for religious instruction in the schools, the Russian Orthodox Church has laid the foundation for a genuine “clash of civilizations” inside of the Russian Federation because “the ethnic Orthodox” and “the ethnic Muslims” move from that status to that of sincere believers.

            And Muslims, having the experience of faith “imposed” by the Russian Orthodox, are thus ever more willing to listen to Muslim leaders, including Salafite ones who say that it is entirely proper for Muslims to “impose” their faith and by means of the same structures and organizations.

            As a result, he continues, “national feelings have begun to combine with confessional ones, creating a common psychological platform in the spiritual world and in the decisions and actions of the individual.”

            Murtuzaliyev concludes with a warning: “In poly-ethnic and multi-confessional Russia which is seeking a national ideal by striving to the achievement of an all-Russian civic identity requires well-thought-out and significantly more precise mechanisms than those practiced and proposed by the Russian Orthodox Church.”

            What is needed, he says, is “an approach which considers the entire spectrum of the regional characteristics of the North Caucasus. The peoples [of that region] and other subjects of Russia must not experience the syndrome of imposed confession and ethnicity.” Otherwise there will be troubles ahead.

Moscow’s Campaign against Turkey Seen Alienating Turkic Republics Inside and Outside of Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Moscow’s war of words against Turkey and its insistence that the rest of the Turkic world break with Ankara over the shooting down of the Russian warplane over Turkish airspace are alienating both the Turkic republics inside the Russian Federation and Turkic countries beyond Russia’s borders that Moscow has wanted to keep as friends.

                Two articles in Kazan’s “Biznes-Online” this weekend discuss these risks, the first focusing on Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky’s call for Turkic republics to end relations with TURKSOY ( and the second, by Rafael Khakimov, on the issue of Russia’s national interests (

            On Friday, the Russian culture minister sent a telegram to the heads of the Turkic rpeublics within the Russian Federation, including Altay, Bashkortostan, Sakha, Tatarstan, Tyva, and Khakasia calling on them to immediately cease cooperation with TURKSOY, an organization that promotes cultural cooperation among Turkic peoples.

            This call, with its suggestion that the Turkic peoples should have nothing to do with anything linked to Turkey, has offended many in these republics, but some experts with whom the online journal spoke suggest the most negative impact may be in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Turkic countries Moscow wants as allies.

            TURKSOY was established in 1993 by the culture ministers of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey, and the republics of Altay, Bashkortostan, Sakha and Tatarstan have joined as observer participants, an action Moscow had supported in the past. 

            “If in Tatarstan people are forced to follow the opinion of the federal minister,” “Biznes-Online” observes, then the first step will be for the republic to withdraw from the TurkicVision music competition modelled on EuroVision. That would be unfortunate, but “it is clear a break of Tatarstan with TURKSOY would be not only cultural but political.”

            Apparently, the online paper continues, there are “certain forces in Moscow” which want “a symbolic gesture” against Turkey, forces which have not considered that such gestures will have an impact not only on Tatarstan and other Turkic republics within the Russian Federation but also on “many other countries in the Turkic world Russia has no desire to fight with.”

            Rimzil Valeyev, a Kazan journalist, said it was clear to him that Moscow had not thought through all of this. But he raised an even more sensitive issue: “Does the federal ministry of culture have the right to give orders to regional ones?  The Russian culture ministry ... cannot prohibit the Tatars and Bashkirs from participating.”

            Did Medinsky speak with the foreign ministry about this? He should have because as a result, “we can lose Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan.” The only good thing about this call is that it did not come from Putin but from Medinsky, “a figure let us say with a contradictory reputation.”

            Talgat Bariyev, a Tatarstan activist, said he considers Medinsky’s proposal “completely insane.” Just because two countries have political differences should not mean that their cultural cooperation should suffer.  Moreover, there is no “power vertical” in the sphere of culture, and decisions about such cooperate are purely “the prerogative of Tatarstan itself.”

            And Razil Valeyev, chairman of the education and culture committee of Tatarstan’s State Council, said that “the easiest thing in the world is to break relations but one must look far into the future. One must find a common language. The Turkic peoples are related to us, and Turkey is our nearest neighbor.” Moscow should not forget about that.

            In his commentary on the current state of Russian-Turkish relations, Rafael Khakimov, the former political advisor to the president of Tatarstan and currently vice president of the republic’s Academy of Science, pointed out that some things change quickly while others do not – and it important not to confuse the two.

            Not long ago, the historian said, many in Moscow were talking about including Turkey in the Eurasian Economic Community. Then the plane was shot down, and now Russians are acting as if Turkey is the most alien place on the planet, an example of the typical Russian logic that “either you are a friend or an enemy. There are no other possibilities.”

            “But life isn’t black and white,” Khakimov said, and “even in old photographs there are half tones. But this isn’t the case for Russia: hear everything must be clear: you are either with us or against us. Such use of language is the source of many harmful ideas,” including the desire to impose sanctions at the drop of a hat.

            In the nineteenth century, Lord Palmerston observed that “England has not permanent allies or permanent enemies. England has only permanent interests.” But unfortunately, Khakimov pointed out, “the diplomacy of Russia is constructed according to a completely different maxim.”

            That one holds that “Russia has no permanent allies, no permanent enemies, and no interests whatsoever.” That is unfortunate because “international relations are a way of advancing the interests of a country. If one compares the strategic interests of Russia in Turkey and Syria, there is no doubt that Turkey is more important.”

            But that is not how Moscow is acting. Moreover, Khakimov says, the state-controlled media are now bleating about how much Turkey will now lose because of Russian sanctions. “But,” he says, he has “another completely foolish question: how much will I lose” as a result of Moscow’s actions?

            No one talks about those either at the personal level where now ordinary Russians cannot vacation in Turkey or at the national level where Russia may be losing the European market for its gas, and yet those are absolutely critical questions. Even in a crisis like the downing of the plane, those are things people should be thinking about.

            “For Tatarstan, Turkey is a serious partner,” Khakimov wrote. “It has taught us to build, to produce inexpensive goods of sufficiently good quality, and to invest in our own economy. What sense is there to break these relations? None.” If Moscow’s military has problems in Syria, then let it and Lavrov “resolve them.”

            As far as Turkey is concerned, Russia should have adopted a “pragmatic” course, one in which Moscow would “think about maintaining the standard of living of the population under conditions of rising inflation and the fall of the ruble. For Tatarstan, it is important not to allow the economic stagnation that the all-Russian situation is threatened by.”

            Hot heads in Moscow in the past and again now are accusing Tatarstan and Turkey of pan-Turkism, forgetting that this charge “was invented by Stolypin to bring to trial the jadids [Islamic modernizers] against whom the Kadimist-Hanafis [Islamic conservatives] had brought denunciations.”

            “At the beginning of the 20th century, a circular was sent throughout Russia with a demand to identify and root out the pan-Turkists and pan-Islamists.” Despite much effort, the authorities “weren’t able to find anything. All the governors answered that they didn’t find such things among the Tatars.” But once again these baseless charges are being made.

            “Tatarstan,” Khakimov concluded, “always has been able to find a common language even in the most difficult political situations. One might even say that the entire republic is by nature diplomatic … And by preserving good relations with Turkey, we can remain a space where negotiations can take place to restore broken ties.”