Saturday, June 24, 2017

Russian Politicians Must Be Punished if They Seek to Exploit Ethnic or Religious Issues, Nationalities Chief Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 24 – Ethnic and Religious issues must become “a taboo for all political parties and figures in Russia,” Igor Barinov, head of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, and the authorities must crack down “in the harshest possible way” to any violation of that official ban.

            Barinov made this comment to TASS on Thursday at the conclusion of the Pyatigorsk conference on nationality policy. He said that he had no doubt that “’destructive forces’ are seeking to ‘shake the political situation in the country on a nationalistic basis” ( and

            The nationalities official pointed out that “similar situations had been observed in previous election campaigns” and involve not only the presidential race but also political competitions within individual federal subjects.  “Of course,” he continued, “this is a very dangerous tendency.”

            Barinov’s words are important for two reasons. On the one hand, they suggest that the Kremlin is now prepared to adopt a much more repressive approach to any such discussion given that it has gotten away with harsher measures in a variety of other sectors of the Russian political landscape.

            And on the other hand, his words also signal that Moscow is worried about ethnic issues and especially those within republics that might tear them apart, such as the remaining bi-national republics in the North Caucasus (Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria where Circassian activism is growing) and Daghestan which has been shaken of late by Nogay moves.

Is a Russian Oliver Stone Going to Make a Movie about Donald Trump?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 24 – Vladimir Surin, director of the Moscow Center for the Study of Socially Significant Problems, says a Russian film director should make a film on Donald Trump analogous to the one US director Oliver Stone has made on Vladimir Putin, something that would allow Putin to explain himself and represent a breakthrough in US-Russian ties.

            Stone’s film, Surin says, represents “the start of the geopolitical breakthrough toward the normalization and harmonization of Russian-American relations. The film of the American became an independent and powerful geopolitical factor. Such is the nature of our time.” And Russia must exploit this by responding in kind (

            “’No one besides us.’ This device of Russians in airborne forces can (and should!) be considered as a call to our great film directors. And we have a whole cohort of them: Mikhalkov, Govorukhin, Menshov and others,” Suring continues. 

            “We all must always remember and take into consideration that we live in an era when information decides everything. There is a super-important task which by itself seems not resolvable – the restoration of a strategic partnership of Russia and the US.” Take in isolation “this is a utopia.” But no one should forget that individuals make history.

            According to the media expert, “the global crisis of democracy has a simple cause: democracy has blocked the role of the personality in history. Film, TV, IP-technologies are in a position to overcome this crisis. Speaking concretely: we must immediately organize the filming of a Russian movie, ‘An Interview with D. Trump.’”

            “No one except for us [Russians],” he says, “will be able to pose to the American president those questions on which he would very much like to express himself.” Such a film would free Trump from the constraints the American establishment has sought to impose on him and his actions.

            In sum, Surin concludes, “a Russian film about ‘the Kremlin’s henchman’ D. Trump will be something … [ellipsis in the original]. A talented conceptually developed film-interview with Trump would be worth an entire series of Russian-American negotiations. And such a series would follow…”