Saturday, January 20, 2018

Donbass Occupiers Must Adopt Their Own ‘Law on Struggling with Ukrainian Occupation,' Purgin Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 20 – In response to the Verkhovna Rada’s adoption of a law on reintegrating the Donbass which identifies Russia as an aggressor and occupier, the self-proclaimed parliaments of the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics are being urged to adopt their own law “On the Struggle with the Ukrainian Occupation.”

            Many in Moscow have denounced the Ukrainian law as an indication that Kyiv is planning to go to war against Moscow, even though an analysis of that law shows that it does not support such an accusation (dsnews.ua/politics/chto-izmenitsya-dlya-donbassa-i-kryma-10-glavnyh-momentov-zakona-19012018220000).

            But action of the occupation officials being proposed shows that if Ukraine is not preparing for a new round of violence, those in the Donbass who are controlled by and act only with the approval of Moscow appear to be, thus increasing the danger that the Russian side will seek to exploit the Ukrainian law as a cover for new aggression.

            In an interview with the Novorossiya news agency, Andrey Purgin, former speaker of het Peoples Assembly of the Donetsk Peoples Republic and head of the South Russian Public Initiative, describes what the DNR-LNR measure as drafted contains and thus why it could trigger more violence (novorosinform.org/703106).

            According to Purgin, “the referenda which took place in 2014 supported the independence of the peoples’ republics in the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Correspondingly, any violation of these borders and the occupation of the territory of the republics is an occupation.”

            “Without an official declaration of war, all soldiers of the Ukrainian army and Nazi battalions are not military personnel according to international law but simply bandits illegally on the territory of the peoples’ republics.”  The new DNR-LNR measure, he continues, makes the following points, all of which flow from this.

            First of all, he says, the draft law specifies that “all people in the uniform of the Ukrainian military, Nazi battalions and others are bandits and this means that they all must be removed or caught and condemned in correspondence with the criminal code.”

            Second, Purgin continues, it says that all Ukrainian officials and citizens “who agitate for [Kyiv’s] position are accomplices” of the military. “All of them must be arrested and convicted.”

            Third, the measure maintains that both of these categories of people if they are arrested and tried by the DNR and LNR are to be stripped of their voting rights so that they cannot have an impact on the policies of the peoples’ republics.

            Fourth, those so charged can escape criminal responsibility, the draft says, if they agree to “shift to the side of the DNR and LNR.”

            Fifth, regarding those portions of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts under “temporary Ukrainian occupation,” the DNR-LNR legislation says that the local administrations bear total responsibility for taking care of the population and must assist in “liberating” these areas from Kyiv’s control.

            And sixth, the measure specifies that the DNR and LNR now are not engaged in aggression against Ukraine but only in “freeing the republics from Ukrainian bands” and implementing the 2014 referenda.   

            Purgin concludes by saying that the DNR and LNR must adopt this measure as soon as possible.

‘Mass Poverty Threatens Russia’s Very Existence,’ Gontmakher Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 20 – Poverty is so widespread in Russia today, Yevgeny Gontmakher says, that it represents a threat to Russia’s existence not only because people concerned only about survival can’t think about development but also because there exists a vicious circle between poverty and growth as a whole.

            In an article for Moskovsky komsomolets yesterday, the sociologist and commentator, says that the share of the population that is poor is not the 13 percent the government likes to use or the 25 percent who can’t meet their basic needs but rather the 41 percent who say they don’t have enough money for clothes or even food (mk.ru/economics/2018/01/19/massovaya-bednost-v-rossii-ugrozhaet-sushhestvovaniyu-strany.html).

            “Sociologists have noted for a long time,” Gontmakher says, that the values of survival rather than development now dominate Russian families,” not just those who are genuinely poor but a majority of the population, including those who would not be counted by any normal statistical measure as poor.

            “What does this mean in fact?” the commentator asks rhetorically.  “Such a family can’t purchase nice housing, pay for additional education and quality medical services which are ever more often becoming ‘for pay,’ and to take a genuine vacation.”  Poverty is especially high in areas outside of the capital, and that too has serious consequences.

            Because people in the regions earn on average half as much as those in Moscow, there is enormous pressure on them to leave for the cities in the hopes of improving their standard of living. And that in turn has the effect of overwhelming the infrastructure of the capital and leaving many of the new arrivals in poverty and despair and their former homes without people.

            “The social lifts about which now so many are talking have simply stopped as a result both for many young Russians and for many not so young ones as well,” Gontmakher says.

            He says that he is describing the situation in catastrophic terms because it is a catastrophe, and everyone, officials and experts alike, need to stop talking about the economy only in terms of GDP changes each quarter.  The real problems are much deeper than that – and will overwhelm the economy and the country as a whole.

            If the government and the expert community recognize this, Gontmakher continues, they will then be in a position to propose policies to address the problem rather than as now sweeping it under the rug or thinking it can be solved by subsidies from the state of one kind or another. That is not where the problem is.

            Instead, it is “in the passivity of the Russian who is accustomed to paternalism from the state” and whose poverty only reinforces that view, something Putin has exploited but that is now blocking the development of the country and any chance that it can break out of its current crisis.

            What Russia needs, Gontmakher argues, is to radically reduce the role of the state in the economy and society, “beginning with the development of real … local self-administration and ending with the departure of the state from many sectors of the economy, responsibility for which should be assumed by the private initiative of small and mid-sized entrepreneurs.”

            Because addressing poverty means addressing the entire system, the sociologist’s analysis suggests, there are few who are willing to take up the challenge, thus ensuring that the purchasing power of the population which could help Russia to get out of its crisis won’t be there and that pessimism and despair will grow perhaps to fatal dimensions.   

Putin Regime has an Ideology But It’s Repulsive and Repellant, Sedov Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 20 – Many Russian liberals insist that the Putin regime has no ideology, Yegor Sedov says; but they are wrong: It has an ideology, albeit a repulsive and repellant one whose seeds are now coming to flower as weeds like the attacks in the schools and against all kind of minorities.

            The Moscow commentator lists six core elements in the Putin ideology, none of which is attractive but all of which are being impressed on the Russian population through the unceasing efforts of the regime and the media it controls (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A6223B77CC61). They include:

1.      “Tolerance for the most bestial lying if it is ‘patriotic.’”

2.      “Suspiciousness toward all-human values.”

3.      “Particular hostility toward empathy if it is not expressed toward itself.”

4.      The notion that Russia is surrounded by enemies.

5.      A belief that “’archaic things are good while civilization is bad.’” Thus, democracies may have “better arms, but on the other hand, we are more spiritual!”

6.      A generalized hatred of others even if they aren’t directly interfering in one’s own affairs.