Monday, May 29, 2017

Daghestani Long-Haul Truckers Say Makhachkala has Not Kept Its Word

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 29 – A major reason why striking long-haul truckers in Daghestan agreed to suspend their strike last week was that the republic authorities said they would pass on the drivers’ demands to Moscow, but according to a leader of the strike there, the powers that be have not kept their promise.

            Abduraashin Samadov says that “the long-haul drivers do not have confirmation that their demands have been sent on to the State Duma” in Moscow as Makhachkala had promised, a discovery that makes the renewal of the strike in that North Caucasus republic, possibly after the end of Ramadan, far more likely (

            The drivers feel particularly betrayed, his comments to the Kavkaz-Uzel news portal suggest, because the governments of other republics, including most prominently Tatarstan, have in fact send on to the federal legislature the drivers’ demands.

            In the last 24 hours, there were two other developments on the long-haul truckers’ strike front: On the one hand, the Carriers Union in Sverdlovsk Oblast announced that the authorities there have approved the truckers plan for a two-to three hour strike action on the ring road of Yekaterinburg on June 3 (

            Indeed, regional union head Nail Nigamatullin said that “the Sverdlovsk authorities had approved the mobile strike action without any questions or comments.”

            And on the other hand, Kommersant reports that long-haul truckers are increasingly taking part in protests on other issues, including most prominently the one organized on Sunday by opponents of plans to demolish the five-storey khrushchoby in Moscow and shift the residents to more distant regions (

Idealizing Soviet Past Will Lead to Another 1917 and Another 1991, Historian Says

Paul Goble     

            Staunton, May 29 – Those who now idealize the Soviet system as a guarantor against social cataclysms have things exactly backwards, historian Andrey Kostryukov warns. In fact, “the idealization of everything Soviet” will have exactly the opposite effect and lead both to another 1917 revolution and another 1991 collapse of the Russian state. 

            That is because failing to take into account the mistakes that were made by the Russian Empire and by the Soviet state will prevent its Russian successor from correcting them and thus avoiding what happened to those two regimes, according to the historian at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Humanities University (

            Unfortunately, Kostryukov says, the trend in official commentaries and popular beliefs now is moving in exactly the opposite direction to the one Russia needs on issues ranging from famine to collectivization to terror to supposed conspiracies against Stalin; and that should worry all who care about Russia.

            In a 3,000-word article, the historian offers numerous examples of this misreading or, perhaps better, failure to learn from the past.  But the examples he cites are far from the only evidence of the trend he sees. Three new articles contain if anything more damning instances of idealizing or at least whitewashing some of the most prominent events in the Soviet past.

            First, during a Vechernyaya Moskva discussion on Stalin’s deportation of peoples, Yury Krupnov, a commentator close to the Kremlin, said that this action had positive consequences by weeding out the weak of these nations who died in the process and then setting the stage for an upsurge in fertility after their return (

            In reporting these remarks, Moscow commentator Igor Chubais says that Krupnov did not respond to whether what Stalin had done was a crime or whether he, Krupnov, would recommend that the Russian government today “deport the Russian people for the solution of its demographic problems.”

            Second, a communist commentator argues that collectivization was “as necessary to us as air. Without it, there wouldn’t have been industrialization or the Great Victory” in 1945, a position that reflects the increasing willingness of Russians to turn the war into a universal moral solvent for any crimes Stalin committed (

                And third, Aleksandr Zdanovocih, a retired FSB lieutenant general, argues that there really was a conspiracy led by Soviet commander Mikhail Tukhachevsky – it was not a product of Stalin’s supposed “paranoia” -- and that the Soviet organs were entirely justified in snuffing it out before it could be carried out against Stalin (


Kremlin’s Demand for Approval of Everything It Does Splitting Russian Society, Krasheninnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 29 – An increasing number of Russians are finding it impossible to rally round the Kremlin now that it is demanding not only that they support Putin “personally” and “curse” the West but approve the increasingly arbitrary and excessive actions not only of a few senior officials but of ever more siloviki, according to Fyodor Krasheninnikov.

            The Yekaterinburg political analyst says that “the times of the Crimean consensus seem a golden age about which only memories remain” because “now a sincere patriot must almost every day adopt the ‘required’ position on ever more inconvenient disputes” brought on by the actions of regime representatives (

            This may be most obvious in the requirement that Russians not question the often absurd claims or actions of Dmitry Medvedev despite all the evidence showing them to be illegal or worse or of those by people like Usmanov or Burkhanovich who are lower down on the state latter but still are held up as models by the regime.

            But these things “are not the worst that can happen,” Krasheninnikov says. “The worst are [Russia’s] law enforcement organs, loyality to which as a symbol of the faith of any patriot and guardian occupies a principle position. ‘A man in epaulets cannot be wrong!’ has become the thesis around which all defenders of the powers are forced to consolidate themselves.”

            Any report of crimes or outrages by such people, be it the misuse of force, massive corruption, or mistreatment of prisoners, supporters of the regime are supposed to say, are either rejected as false or provocations or alternatively accepted as accurate but justified because those involved are wearing the uniform of the state.

            The last such incident was the arrest of a young boy in Moscow who was reading Shakespeare on the street.  “It would seem,” Krasheninnikov says, “that any normal individual would first of all reflect that such ‘a violation of the law’ does not represent any threat for those around him and in no way corresponds to the ferocity displayed by the police.

            But that isn’t how regime loyalists responded.  Instead, they said the police were right to act as they had and even demanded that the child’s parents be punished for allowing this to happen.

            For them, “loyalty to senseless terror against unarmed and defenseless citizens, who have committed no crimes, is a new level of ‘patriotic’ consolidation.” But this isn’t really something new, the commentator says.  It is what happens whenever support for the existing authoritarian state becomes an end in itself.

            The state, for such “’patriots,’” he continues, “is precisely and above all the police” and thus they line up behind those who decide whom to beat and whom not to, something that has nothing to do with “attitudes toward Ukraine, Crimea and the West” and that is producing “a fatal split within [Russian] society.”

            That split, Krasheninnikov argues, “is between those who with delight approve any manifestation of terror and force by any representative of the powers that be and those for whom the unending tightening of the screws and systemic use f force seems criminal and dnagers both for each of us and for our common future.”

            This divide is becoming “ever wider and more dangerous,” he concludes, because “history teaches” that relying on “the ferocity of the police” has “not saved even a single regime” anywhere or at any time, even though it may have allowed some of them to last longer than might otherwise be the case.