The Trans-Russian Rail Project
Dr. Gary K. Busch - 10/20/2013
On Sept. 22, 2013 the Russian Railroads ran the first train from Rajin in North Korea to the Russian rail junction at Khasan. The run marked the completion of the first stage in reconstructing the railway line between Rajin and the border at Tumangang and Khasan in Primorskiy Krai, Russia. This was part of a pilot project to restore the entire Trans-Korean Main Line for its integration into the Trans-Siberian Railway. This includes developing a major transit hub at the port of Rajin in the Rason Special Economic Zone in the far North of North Korea...
New Extremely Right-Wing Intellectual Circles in Russia
Dr. Andreas Umland - 10/13/2013
The Anti-Orange Committee, the Isborsk Club and the Florian Geyer Club
The Meaning of Tymoshenko’s Case for the EU: Will Brussels Sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 9/4/2013
For two years now, Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has been in prison, and the European Union has constantly demanded her release. While the former prime minister’s name is not mentioned in all of Brussels’s statements, it is clear that her discharge is a necessary prerequisite for signing the Association Agreement. Why has the EU set such a condition for concluding this historic agreement, and what role does the Tymoshenko case play?
The Caucasus War of August 2008
Dr. Christian Wipperfürth - 8/21/2013
In August 2004, Georgia had, under President Mikhail Saakashvili, already tried to occupy South Ossetia in a blitzkrieg. At that time, warnings from Western countries and massive threats from Moscow forced the rapid withdrawal of Georgian troops. However, the prospect of a common future which had developed over the previous years between George on the one side and Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the other, and been destroyed.
Chechens in the Homeland
Ron Coody - 5/13/2013
Among the ever twisting and turning mountains, hills and vales of the Russian Caucuses live dozens of Muslim ethnic groups. Since the fall of the Soviet Union many of these have either agitated for independence or launched an outright rebellion to separate from the Russian government. Countless Russian soldiers and rebel fighters have died. But the innocent victims include school children who were taken hostage and killed. Pictures of mourning mothers and fathers brought to light the desperate situation of Chechnya, a place deep in the heart of Eurasia that otherwise few Americans would have ever heard about. Until now.
Chechnya: Separatists, Russian Forces in for the Long Haul and Big Cash
Angelique van Engelen - 3/29/2013
The next turn in the war in Chechnya is highly unpredictable, but the Islamic independence fighters who have insisted on wreaking total chaos appear to have gotten themselves what they have been after - an all out war against the Russians. Some have said that with the death of Aslan Maskhadov in 2005, the war in Chechnya as such is over. Now the show is run by Islamists who run a 'race to extermination' and Moscow-backed security forces run by Ramsan Kadyrov, the disgraced son of the country's former president who was killed earlier on.
Do Russians Love Their Children Too?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 8/4/2012
A homophobia campaign linking gays to child molesters as well as a series of "paedophilia" defamations relativize the abuse of minors in Russia.
Approaching The New “Time of the Troubles”
Dr. Gary K. Busch - 7/10/2012
There was a period in Russian history known as the Time of the Troubles (Смутное время) in which all manner of calamities befell the Russian state and its peoples – roughly between the death of the Tsar Feodor Ivanovich in 1598 and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. Catastrophic weather led to the failure of the crops and mass starvation. The great nobles refused to recognise the legitimacy of the power exercised by Boris Gudonov who had taken took over after the death of Feodor Ivanovich, but insisted on t...
War Is In The Air: A Troubled Caucasus
Vahan Dilanyan - 6/10/2012
While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on her way to South Caucasus perhaps troubled by growing intensity around Iran, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has proven to be more explosive and hazardous.
The Missing Piece in The Saga Of Putin’s Return
Dr. Gary K. Busch - 4/13/2012
The other night I had the opportunity to attend a discussion at the UK journalists’ “Frontline Club”, listening to several knowledgeable people discussing the return of Putin to power and the growing importance of the ‘democratic movement’ which has cast such a chill over the jubilant proceedings, We heard the tragic story of Sergei Magnitsky and the circumstances of his murder. It was an interesting discussion but seemed to suffer from the great liberal journalistic disease of ascribing virtue and inevitability to a cause which is, to them, self-evidently just and important. Like most journa...
KGB Operation "Bill Clinton"
Mikhail Kryzhanovsky - 3/5/2012
On December 31, 1969 Oxford student and anti-war activist Bill Clinton came to Moscow through Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland for 5-days vacation at expensive "National" Hotel. The only person he knew in Moscow was Anik "Nikki" Alexis, a daughter of a French diplomat . Clinton recalls, "One night I took a bus out to Lumumba University to have dinner with Nikki" .
The "Kremlin" operation
Mikhail Kryzhanovsky - 2/24/2012
I'm 30 years in espionage and counterespionage and I have knowledge and experience no other spy has because I worked for 5 special services , including KGB USSR, SBU ( Ukraine), KGB, FBI and the U.S. Secret Service.
Will Russian Ultra-Nationalism Subvert the White Revolution?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 2/16/2012
Repeating a recurring feature in Russia's recent history, Moscow's December 2011 protests have seen a new alliance between Russian democrats and ultra-nationalists.
How to Can Russia's Democrats Succeed?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 2/8/2012
Without a broad coalition, effective pragmatism and collaboration with reformers in the ancien regime, the "White Revolution" will end as miserable as earlier Russian democratization attempts
Russia's relationship to democracy has been historically closer than some people, both in- and outside Russia, assume. As early as in December 1825, Tsarist Russia experienced an abortive palace revolution by a group of idealistic, young, liberal aristocrats who were later called "the Decembrists."
Had the Decembrists been successful, their planned abolition of the autocr...
Russian Realities: A Letter to Medvedev and Its Consequences
Elena Odnovarchenko - 1/31/2012
Dear Mr. President.
Since my letter had no effect on you, I decided to appeal to the public. I’d like to remind you about my horrible story, which deserves your attention because it concerns the entire state system of which you are head.
At the beginning of 2011 I should have received an apartment of adequate quality under the federal program for resettlement from run-down accommodation. I remind you that the building containing my old apartment, where my family was living on the basis of a public rental contract, had been declared “unfit for habitation” as early as 2007.
Four Political Dimensions of Ukraine’s Future Europeanization: Why Brussels and the EU Member States Need to Keep an Eye on Kyiv
Dr. Andreas Umland - 1/20/2012
Although the EU plays a crucial role for the future of Europe, the stability and development of Europe in the 21st century depend not only on the Union’s internal affairs. The Union’s relationship to its European Eastern neighbors in the next years, above all to Russia and Ukraine, may be even more important than the EU’s finances, reform and performance.
The Sources and Risks of Russia’s White Revolution: Why Putin failed and the Russian democrats may too
Dr. Andreas Umland - 1/20/2012
Russian imperial nationalism and anti-Westernism has been a distraction for Putin & Co who missed the emergence of a domestic challenge, and did not see the crisis of their regime coming. These same factors may also, however, subvert the currently growing pro-democratic protest movement in Moscow and beyond.
The Stillborn Project of a Eurasian Union: Why Post-Soviet Integration Has Little Prospects
Dr. Andreas Umland - 1/8/2012
At first glance, the idea of a re-integration of the post-Soviet republics may seem sensible. The economies, societies and populations of the successor republics of the USSR are linked to each other by a multitude of ties. On closer inspection, however, the creation of a new supranational formation spanning much of the territory of the former Tsarist and Soviet empires is hampered by structural and historical constraints. The sum of these impediments make Putin’s project of a Eurasian Union look ill-conceived. Its practical implementation would create more problems than it will solve.
Gas and Geopolitics: Prospects for Russia
Sameer Jafri - 12/2/2011
Energy has always been at the centre stage of constantly changing geopolitical contours of the world. Since the energy resources i.e. the fossil fuels are highly unevenly distributed across the globe, the competition for control over them eats up much of energy hungry major economies’ time and money. With global energy demand increasing sharply and reserves being limited, this competition has only become intense with time and is bound to reach unprecedented levels in future.
Russia and the Euro-Atlantic World
Dr. Christian Wipperfürth - 11/30/2011
What is behind the endless ups and downs in Russian-Western relations since 2000? Many observers blame this instability on the Kremlin. Others point the finger at the West. Representatives of both camps can produce countless facts that fit together to create a perfectly conclusive overall picture. Yet they all tend to present their arguments in an emotionally and morally-charged tone. This raises doubts over whether they have sufficiently taken into account the evidence that contradicts their views. Furthermore, the dynamics that drive Russian politics are extremely complex and open to interpretation, which also explains why the analyses of observers often diverge sharply.
Georgia’s “repressive democracy”
Petar Kanef, Ph.D. - 10/8/2011
Can Georgia’s active contribution in Afghanistan be the down payment for violation of democratic norms in the country and its admission into NATO?
Fimaco Wouldn't Die: Russia's Missing Billions
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/1/2011
Throughout the early 2000s, Russia's Audit Chamber - with the help of the Swiss authorities and their host of dedicated investigators - claimed that it is about to solve a long standing mystery. An announcement by the Prosecutor's General Office was said to be imminent. The highest echelons of the late President Yeltsin's entourage - perhaps even Yeltsin himself - may be implicated - or exonerated. A Russian team has been spending the better part of 2001-2 poring over documents and interviewing witnesses in Switzerland, France, Italy, and other European countries.
The Changing Strategic Standing of Russia and International Security
Dr. O. Bakreski, B. Avramovska, & Z.Nikoloski, MAs - 7/29/2011
1. Multi-Polarization Antithesis of “Globalization”
Russia: Aircraft industry on the verge of collapse
Dame Chkatroski - 5/13/2011
There is no good news from the Russian aircraft industry in Moscow.
Plea for a New Eastern Europe Policy of the EU: How Ukraine could help re-democratizing Russia
Dr. Andreas Umland - 5/10/2011
Recent political developments in the three Eastern Slavic states, like the repression of opposition figures in Moscow, Minsk and Kyiv, have been frustrating. They illustrate once more that the EU's and, not the least, Germany's policies towards Eastern Europe during the last two decades were a failure, in a number of ways.
Putin vs Medvedev: Who’s next?
Paul Koshik - 3/30/2011
In 2012 new presidential elections will be held in Russia. No one doubts the fact that Medvedev and Putin belong to one political group. Also, there is no doubt that it is for them to decide who will become a candidate for the president of the Russian Federation. While this issue hasn’t been settled yet, Putin and Medvedev apparently decided to follow the American model – both of them are going to launch the election campaign from the same political party and according to the results of public-opinion polls determine who is more available and, thus, who will represent the party on the elections. Let us have a look on the steps both of the candidates take during their election campaigns.
Russia 2010: Nationalism's Revenge
Dr. Andreas Umland - 12/21/2010
For several days now, Russia has been haunted by nationalistic demonstrations, violent ethnic brawls, and resulting mass arrests. The series of interrelated events was triggered by the death of a Russian soccer fan in a scuffle between ethnic Russian and north Caucasian youth in Moscow, on 6 December 2010. International media has focused on the following violent clash between neo-Nazi demonstrators, on the one side, and Russian policemen, on the other, on Manezh Square, in the Moscow city center, on 11 December 2010, as well as on some subsequent clashes in the Russian capital. There were seve...
The Study and Reactions to It of the Russian Extreme Right
Dr. Andreas Umland - 11/30/2010
Over the last 20 years, the small community of researchers of post-Soviet Russian ultra-nationalism has repeatedly become the target of verbal and non-verbal attacks, by their objects of research - Russian fundamentalists, ethnocentrists and racists. This is not an unusual phenomenon in the contemporary study of international right-wing extremism.
The NATO-Russia Summit: Russia closer to long-standing goals
Lorna Thomas - 11/16/2010
In June 2000, ahead of a summit with Vladimir Putin, former President Bill Clinton received the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen, Germany. (Charlemagne, king of the Franks was crowned “Emperor of the Romans” on 25 December 800 by Pope Leo III in St Peter's Basilica, Rome.) In Aachen, Mr Clinton stated Russia must become "fully part of Europe".
Turkmenistan's Diversification Efforts
Aaron Beitman - 10/15/2010
For a century and a half as a backwater outpost of the Russian and Soviet empires, Turkmenistan's primary role was to supply the imperial center with raw materials and labor. Though Turkmenistan's increased global presence today is driven by raw materials exports, primarily natural gas, export schedules are no longer dictated exclusively by Moscow. To Russia's chagrin, this process appears to be accelerating as Turkmenistan deepens energy ties with China, Turkmen gas exports to Russia decrease, and progress is made on the ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline comp...
Ukraine's New Problems
Tamerlan Vahabov - 9/28/2010
If we aspire change in Ukraine, we need to distantiate ourselves from the personalities of Yulia Timoshenko, Viktor Yanukovych, and others. Active lobbying of such reforms as legislation on local elections and the expansion of Presidential power provides strong reasons to believe that the Party of Regions aims at long-term stay in power. What is really important now is to start looking at the situation more broadly. The current electoral fatigue from traditional parties creates good opportunities for new brands to emerge and mobilize substantial support. One example thereof is the electoral su...
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Regional Stability
Christian Wipperfuerth - 6/15/2010
The regime change in Kyrgyzstan, a tiny, distant country of barely five million inhabitants, is much more than a footnote in global politics. The important transport hub there, used primarily by the US, France and Spain to supply Western troops in Afghanistan, is safe for now. But the stability of Kyrgyzstan is uncertain, as is the capacity of its government to act, and both are of considerable importance beyond Central Asia.
Kazakhstan’s ‘Path to Europe’ Opens the West’s Bridge to Asia
Roger N. McDermott - 6/10/2010
Kazakhstan, often perceived in western capitals in terms of its energy wealth or its close relationship with Russia, is undoubtedly an important geostrategic player in Eurasia and in early 2010 became the first former Soviet country to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has elicited speculation and controversy concerning its role and potential.
Putin's Last Days?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/2/2010
I. Putin's Twilight
Putin is losing his grip on power. His allies - not least former KGB and current FSB operatives - are deserting him in droves, put off by his recent economic failures as much as by his clownish and narcissistic public conduct. Erstwhile faithful oligarchs are now hedging their bets, putting feelers to the West and even colluding with the banished Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky.
In June 2010, Mikhail Kasyanov, A former Russian prime minister, offered a spirited defense of incarcerated tycoon and Putin nemesis Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In a packed court in Moscow he la...
Obama’s policy toward the Caucasus and U.S. credibility
Dr. Fariz Huseynov and Tamerlan Vahabov - 6/1/2010
The U.S. image in Azerbaijan has never been as bad as it is now and anti-American rhetoric in this predominantly Muslim country bordering Iran is unprecedented. President Obama’s “reset” policies towards Russia can have certain far-reaching implications for the U.S. interests and credibility in new democracies of the ex-Soviet Union. Azerbaijan is one example where President Obama’s “reset” policies with Russia can significantly damage U.S. interests in European Union energy security, NATO ISAF supply routes and democracy.
From Bishkek to Ganges
Uddipan Mukherjee, Ph.D. - 5/26/2010
When riots broke out in Petrograd, it was 08 March 1917. The subalterns clashed with Tsar’s infantrymen. In the process, forty people were killed. But any ‘revolution’ can claim a resounding success and more so be embedded in the annals of International History, if and only if the civilians and the army act in unison. And that’s what happened on that day in St Petersburg.
Is Europe vulnerable to blackmail? Russia and natural gas
Dr. Christian Wipperfürth - 4/11/2010
Without Russia, millions of Germans would be out in the cold. There are also other European countries that intensively use Russian gas to generate electricity. Gas is relatively climate-friendly, and less expensive per unit of energy than oil. If a disruption in the supply of gas forced Germany or other countries to substantially reduce their production of electric power, this would also have a significant negative impact on neighboring states.
European Confusion in Kyiv
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/9/2010
Largely unnoticed in the West, Ukraine’s new President, Viktor Yanukovych, has brought to power an illegitimate government, in March 2010. Though being installed via a seemingly orderly parliamentary procedure, the current Ukrainian cabinet headed by Prime-Minister Mykola Azarov has no proper popular mandate. Worse, according to Ukrainian press reports, Yanukovych’s actions received first hesitant, and later explicit support from official representatives of Western countries and organizations. How did that come about?
Natrual Resources of Central Asia and The New Great Game
Nasir Shah - 4/1/2010
The Central Asian region consist of five sovereign states i.e. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and also consider Azerbaijan is a part of Caucasus. Russia is located in the North of Central Asia, China in the East, Turkey in the West and Afghanistan and Iran are in the South. Soon after independence of the Central Asian countries started to establish good relations with neighboring countries. This region is abundant in natural resources. Unfortunately, the Central Asian countries are landlocked.
Ukraine's democracy in decline
Dr. Andreas Umland - 3/29/2010
“Tushka” is the Russian word for the dead body of a small animal. During the last weeks, its plural form “tushki” has come into wide use, in Ukraine, as a metaphor for a number of former members of the parliamentary factions of the pro-Yushchenko party alliance Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense, and Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko. Despite being elected to the Verkhovna Rada as list members of these two political associations, the tushki have left their original factions – six deputies, in each case – and joined the opposed camp in the Verkhovna Rada, namely an alliance of the Party of Regions, Co...
Ukraine as a link between East and West?
Aaron Beitman - 3/13/2010
Ukrainian leaders since 1991 have employed different strategies for navigating the cramped geopolitical space between Russia and the West. Viktor Yanukovych will be the latest to chart a course through these treacherous waters, following his triumph over Yulia Tymoshenko in February’s presidential elections. In contrast to Yanukovych’s 2004 victory, domestic and international observers roundly affirmed the February votes as free and fair. Though the Orange Revolution has been read its obituary, the February votes should be seen as healthy steps towards democracy in a region that has in recent ...
Ukraine’s Future: The Precarious Alternatives to an EU Membership Perspective
Dr. Andreas Umland - 2/8/2010
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s dictum that, without Ukraine, Russia is no longer an empire is well-known in Europe too. Yet, its topicality for European security seems insufficiently appreciated in Brussels. While the EU cannot directly influence relations between Russia and Ukraine, any more than it can solve her problems, its Eastern policies do nonetheless affect both Kyiv’s foreign affairs and Ukrainian domestic politics. Whether it likes or not, the EU exerts influence on the whole process of Ukraine’s post-Soviet transformation – as it did in post-communist Central Europe. To be sure, the success...
Islamic Fundamentalism in Central Asia: Possibility or Paranoia?
Uddipan Mukherjee, Ph.D. - 1/27/2010
In 2009, the world strategic community was mostly concerned with the ‘Af-Pak’ hot spot. In 2010, the trend is most unlikely to change, although new flashpoints like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa are likely to emerge in the geopolitical horizon. But one very challenging aspect to the theoretical circles shall be the contemplation on the repercussions of the Af-Pak conflict on the Central Asian Republics (CAR). A couple of plausible reasons, among other things, may be posited for this future scenario.
Ukraine: What will happen after the first blood?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 1/27/2010
On December 26, 2009, the famous Crimean city of Sevastopol saw yet another confrontation between Ukrainian and Russian nationalists. A group of activists of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda,” Ukraine’s largest explicitly nationalist party, tried to conduct a – what they called – March Against Illegal Immigration through the town that hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet. As could be expected, they soon encountered a pro-Russian counter-demonstration. Although some violence occurred, Sevastopol’s police was able to hold the two groups separate, and to prevent an escalation.
Gazprom – Gas Company or Russia’s Battering Ram?
Don Wolcott and Michael J. Economides - 12/19/2009
In early September Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Ukraine of not playing by the rules, trying to change the contract for the natural gas transit to Western Europe across its territory. Earlier in August Ukranian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko surprised everybody, apparently including the Russians, saying that Ukraine and Russia had sorted out all their differences in the energy sphere. This was after two traumatic and almost identical total cutoffs of natural gas flow in January 2006 and in January 2009. The critical issue is that conflict between Ukraine and Russia does not affe...
Ukraine's German Chance
Dr. Andreas Umland - 12/16/2009
The issue of an EU membership perspective for Ukraine is central to this young democracy’s current foreign relations and future domestic development. At least, this is what many members of Kyiv’s political and intellectual elite believe – arguably, for good reasons. The prospect of becoming a fully accepted “member of the European family” was, in the opinion of many in both the West and East, important for the political and economic development of Central European as well as Baltic countries in the 1990s. It was a driving force in the quick transition of these post-totalitarian states into more or less liberal democracies today.
Explaining Russian and Chinese Policy: From Communists to Super-Capitalist Merchants
Prof. Barry Rubin - 12/3/2009
China is very much motivated toward development rather than ideology or geopolitical ambition. It wants to get along with everyone as much as possible and make lots of money. (Quite a change from the days of the Little Red Book and the Cultural Revolution!). So they are ready to sell arms to everyone. They are all over Africa especially doing deals with anyone who can pay.
Understanding the Orange Revolution: Ukraine's Democratization in the Russian Mirror
Dr. Andreas Umland - 11/20/2009
On November 21st, 2009, Ukrainian democrats will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the start of demonstrations in Kyiv which led to larger political developments that came to reshape our understanding of post-Soviet politics. During the last five years, the 2004 events in Ukraine known as the Orange Revolution have become important reference points in the international study of democratic transition and consolidation. The Orange Revolution is certainly the major event in the study of current Ukrainian history. Whatever happens to Ukraine in the future, it seems to be destined to become a “crucial case” within comparative research into post-communist politics.
Fascist Tendencies in Russia’s Political Establishment
Dr. Andreas Umland - 8/27/2009
Aleksandr Dugin, a prominent advocate of fascist and anti-Western views, has risen from a fringe ideologue to penetrate into Russian governmental offices, mass media, civil society and academia. Prominent members of Russian society are affiliated with his International Eurasian Movement. Among Dugin’s most important collaborators are electronic and print media commentator Mikhail Leont’ev and the legendary TV producer and PR specialist Ivan Demidov. If Dugin’s views become more widely accepted, a new Cold War between Russia and the West will be likely, during the coming years.
Europe’s Share in the Ukrainian Malaise
Dr. Andreas Umland - 8/20/2009
Much can be heard from Western visitors of Ukraine or observers analyzing the post-Soviet region that Kyiv politics today is a “mess.” Hardly anybody (least of all, Ukrainians themselves) will disagree. Even lowbrow EU citizens may come up with an opinion on current Ukrainian affairs, and criticize the ensuing political chaos, in Kyiv. Sometimes, Western ignorance mixes with European arrogance to re-produce stereotypes about Ukraine eerily similar to the way in which former KGB officers in Moscow would like to portray Europe’s largest new democracy.
Playing Nice with Russia Has Failed
Prof. Peter Morici - 7/27/2009
Russia’s invasion of Georgia should compel the United States and Europe to alter their policies of economic engagement to promote democracy.
Restart for U.S.-Russian Relations?
Prof. Peter Morici - 7/27/2009
This week, President Obama is putting into action a new foreign and security policy toward Russia--one based on a realistic expression of U.S. goals and interests and a realistic assessment of Russia's interests, even if Prime Minister Vladimir Putin does not recognize all of them.
Averting a Post-Orange Disaster: Constitutional Reforms and Political Stability in Ukraine
Dr. Andreas Umland - 7/27/2009
After several years of impressive economic growth and encouraging political change, Ukraine has recently entered troubled waters. The democracies west of Ukraine are institutionally consolidated and internationally embedded enough to circumscribe the political repercussions of their so far relatively mild economic contractions. While being hit almost as hard as Ukraine by the world financial crisis, Russia has managed to build considerable financial reserves thanks to the enormous cash inflow into her state budget during the years of rocketing energy prices, allowing her to soften the social repercussions of the economic downturn.
Russia's Foreign and Security Goals
Christian Wipperfuerth - 5/25/2009
1. Stability: Protection of the Territorial Integrity
For the elites and the population the unexpected dissolution of the USSR is a permanent reminder of their country's potential vulnerability. Russians also even tend to draw comparisons between the 1990s and the Smuta in the 17th century, when the state broke down and millions died. The fear of a break down is not wholly unfounded, because a traditionally centralized multi-ethnic power with a weak society like Russia is not as flexible as others to cope with shocks.
Will There Be a Second Crimean War?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 5/13/2009
The August 2008 war in the Caucasus was a shock to Russian-Western relations. The West’s timid reaction to the five-day conflict and to the de facto annexation of two Georgian provinces, by Russia, do not bode well for the future of European security. While the recent renewal of friendly relations between Moscow and Washington as well as current rapprochement between President Dmitry Medvedev and the liberal Russian intelligentsia give reason for hope, the major source for instability in northern Eurasia remains in place.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely: Azerbaijan lifts term limits
Farid Guliyev, Ph.D. candidate - 5/4/2009
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This famous dictum of Baron Acton sounds so true today in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Here the referendum this Wednesday (March 18) lifted term limits on the presidency granting approval to President Ilham Aliyev to serve as many times as he wishes after his second term finishes in 2013. The poll approved more than 40 amendments to the constitution removing some of the restraints on the presidency. Ilham Aliyev, 47, succeeded his ailing father Heydar Aliyev in the presidential election in 2003 and voted to continue in office for the second five-year term in October 2008.
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of a New Russian Thaw
Dr. Andreas Umland - 2/23/2009
When Vladimir Putin nominated Dmitry Medvedev for becoming Putin's successor as President of the Russian Federation on December 10, 2008, Western observers reacted with relief. Medvedev was the best possible candidate, in Putin's entourage, and the West's preferred choice as a future partner in negotiations â€“ at least, given the alternatives to Medvedev, in the Russian leadership. At the same time, most pundits, in both Russia and the West, were sceptical concerning not only the actual prerogatives which Russia's third president would have, with Putin being Prime-Minister "under" Medvedev. M...
Ukraine's Window of Opportunity
Dr. Andreas Umland - 12/29/2008
As president Victor Yushchenko's rating plummets further there is a chance that Kiev's political elite may agree to form a parliamentary republic.
Russia wary of NATO’s eastward expansion
Abid Mustafa - 11/12/2008
Ever since America gained Georgia via the Rose Revolution in 2003, and then cemented her influence in parts of Ukraine through the Orange Revolution in 2004, Russia’s antagonism towards American influence in the post-soviet space has grown immensely. The conflagration between the two erstwhile adversaries is greatest over NATO’s attempts to include Georgia and Ukraine. America is eager to admit both countries into NATO and extend its security umbrella to encompass the highly vulnerable energy transit routes to the West from the Caspian Sea, and secure strategic locations in Russia’s near abro...
Medvedev announcing democratic reforms
Dr. Andreas Umland - 11/12/2008
As the world watched how the Americans elected their first black president, it has been largely ignored that, across the ocean, another historic event was taking place simultaneously in Moscow. On November 5th, 2008, Dmitry Medvedev gave his first presidential address to the Federal Assembly, i.e. the two houses of Russian parliament. In his speech, Medvedev presented to the Russian lawmakers an action plan the implementation of which could usher in a return to the policy of democratic reforms started by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s, and continued by Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s.
Moscow’s Miscalculated Show of Strength
Dr. Andreas Umland - 9/29/2008
In Western comments, the Russian army’s invasion of Georgia is portrayed as a manifestation of revisionist expansionism. Kremlin-controlled mass media, in contrast, presents Russia’s intervention in the Southern Caucasus as a humanitarian action saving a national minority from “genocide” as well as the “lives and dignity” of Russian citizens abroad. After what the Russian army had done to Chechnya in the 1990s, Moscow’s noise on Georgia is not only hyperbolic and -critical. The Russian leadership helped also to provoke the Georgian attack and had been seemingly waiting or even preparing for it...
The Trouble with Russia
Prof. Barry Rubin - 9/29/2008
The return of Russian power in the Middle East, next to Iran's nuclear weapons' campaign, is the region's most important new issue. While far less threatening than the Soviet bloc's Cold War backing for radical Arab states, this development poses some major problems for U.S. leaders, Israeli interests, and Middle East politics.
Russia is Selling Hezbollah surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles
Elias Bejjani - 8/29/2008
Hezbollah's Leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned that his terrorist armed militia is now much, much, stronger than before the devastating war that took place in 2006 between his militia and Israel. He rhetorically and pompously alleged that his militia would destroy Israel if its army wages any attacks against Lebanon.
A Shield of a Passport: Moscow Uses Russian Citizenship as a Tool for Recollecting the Empire's Lands
Dr. Andreas Umland - 8/26/2008
One of the main justifications for Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia was that it had to protect its citizens from what Moscow’s leaders chose to call “genocide” by the Georgian army in South Ossetia. The reasons behind Russia’s embrace of this particular argument seems to be that the protection of one’s own citizens has been a common rationalization for military action abroad by many countries, including major Western powers. Russia thus apparently follows internationally-accepted modes of behavior: governments have to protect their citizens, using military means if necessary.
Playing Nice With Russia Failed
Prof. Peter Morici - 8/26/2008
Russia’s invasion of Georgia should compel the United States and Europe to alter their policies of economic engagement to promote democracy. After the Cold War, the United States and Europe sought to integrate Russia, China and their satellites into the western market economy. Policymakers believed this would encourage democracy, human rights and a peaceful demeanor toward their neighbors.
Georgian Lessons for Small Nations
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/18/2008
Small nations can learn seven important lessons from Russia's invasion of Georgia:
“Neo-Eurasianism,” the Issue of Russian Fascism, and Post-Soviet Political Discourse
Dr. Andreas Umland - 6/7/2008
The past couple of years witnessed a welcome sensitization of the Russian public towards skinhead attacks and ultra-nationalist propaganda. Nevertheless, Putin’s administration and the Kremlin-controlled mass media maintained an ambiguous stance regarding xenophobic tendencies in politics and public discourse. While primitive hatred of foreigners and ethnic violence are officially stigmatized, the dissemination of national stereotypes and anti-Americanism, in particular, by government-directed information channels and political pundits continues unabated. For example, the notorious publicist A...
U.S.-Russia Missile Defense Tensions and Russian Military Resurgence
Lorna Thomas - 5/20/2008
For many in the U.S. and Britain, one of 2007's surprises - or shocks - was the resurgence of Russia as a force to be reckoned with. Buoyed by wealth gained as an oil producer in an oil dependent world, Russia displayed renewed confidence on the world stage.
The Rise of Dmitry Medvedev and the Re-Configuration of Post-Soviet Politics
Dr. Andreas Umland - 5/11/2008
On May 7th, 2008, the 42-year-old jurist Dmitry Medvedev was inaugurated as the new President of the Russian Federation. The same day, Medvedev proposed Putin as Russia’s Prime Minister, and the State Duma duly confirmed the proposal the following day. Whatever these moves may, in the end, entail for the exact redistribution of power in Moscow, they imply that Medvedev will become Russia’s official leader. Medvedev’s rise means that Russia might have a serious chance to embark anew on a course of political liberalization and democratization. It will provide a welcome opportunity for Western go...
Gorbachev Number Two: Dmitry Medvedev
Dr. Andreas Umland - 5/3/2008
The majority of Russian and Western observers see the man who will become the new President of the Russian Federation this month as an only relatively liberal figure, if not as a faceless opportunist. Some even think that Medvedev will be a second Putin whose rise means merely more of what we have seen during the last eight years. However, Medvedev’s early political biography and most recent statements on such issues as multi-party competition, freedom of the press, or Russia’s relations to the West point in a different direction. Should the Russian presidential administration come under the l...
Ukraine, NATO, and German Foreign Policy
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/30/2008
Since the beginning of April, Germany has become a rather less popular country in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and Western provinces. Patriotic Ukrainian elites are mostly right in their evaluation of the effects of recent German foreign policies. At the summit in Bucharest in early April, it was not the least Germany's refusal to immediately invite Ukraine to NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP) that led to the postponement of the issue to NATO’s next large meeting later this year.
Armenian people: Pain, faith, & hope
Elias Bejjani - 4/29/2008
On the ninety-third anniversary of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire government's military forces which took place in 1915 in what is known today as Turkey, we, from the Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC), offer our heartily felt condolences to the Armenian people all over the world, share their grief, pain and anguish, as well as their on going cry for justice.
Aspects of the Orange Revolution
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/20/2008
Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election was falsified, spurring the Orange Revolution. To many observers, the Orange Revolution was a shock, and the stolen elections a recent development. However, both the election fraud and the effort to topple the government of Leonid Kuchma emerged from political dynamics that had appeared in earlier Ukrainian elections.
Censorship of love a la Putin
Iqbal Latif - 4/20/2008
Men are boys and they never really ever grow up when it comes to passion. The message from Putin is clear: Don't mess with my woman; she is no orphan like Lewinsky. Putin and Sarkozy are two gainfully employed powerful men. One gets curious as to find out what they are looking for in a relationship. We know what their partners, Ms. Carla and Ms. Alina look at -- it is the 'power' that emanates and radiates from these two very potent guys. Recently, Sarkozy married a well-known Parisian (Italian heiress) socialite, Carla. I was keen to know why powerful men fall for 'amazing beauties' and socia...
The Belonuchkin Case
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/17/2008
In December 2007, Russian political journalist and researcher Grigory Belonuchkin told a court that the results of that month's federal parliamentary elections in two electoral precincts of his home town Dolgoprudnyi near Moscow were tainted. Working as an official observer during the voting for the Russian State Duma, Belonuchkin collected documentation of electoral fraud in favor of Vladimir Putin's party United Russia. In early April 2008, Belonuchkin was beaten so severely that he had to be hospitalized. One fears that Belonuchkin is a case small enough for the Kremlin to let the Dolgoprudnyi gang make the journalist an example for others who may have illusions similar to Belonuchkin’s.
Post-Soviet Russian Anti-Americanism and the Post-War German Experience
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/14/2008
Since the publication of Alexander Yanov’s 1995 book After Yeltsin: ‘Weimar’ Russia (Moscow: KRUK; New York: Slovo-Word), a number of Yanov’s predictions for the post-Yeltsin period have come true. Above all, during the last years, sections of the Russian elite have adopted a paranoid vision of the outside, above all Western, world which, in the 1990s, had been a minority view held by the extreme right and paleocommunists. Whether this makes Yanov’s sweeping equation of developments in post-Soviet Russia and inter-war Germany justified or not: It remains a fact that, in spite of relative polit...
Is Putin’s Russia really “fascist”? A response to Alexander Motyl
Dr. Andreas Umland - 3/26/2008
In his articles “Is Putin’s Russia fascist?” published on the site of The National Interest Online on December 3, 2007 (http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=16258) and “Surviving Russia’s drift to fascism” published in the Kyiv Post, January 17, 2008 (http://www.kyivpost.com/op...
Moscow’s New Chief Ideologist: Ivan Demidov
Dr. Andreas Umland - 3/25/2008
Recent attention by Russian and Western commentators was focused on the presidential elections of March 2nd, 2008, and the personality of Dmitry Medvedev. Therefore, the appointment of 44-year old Ivan Demidov as Head of the Ideological Directorate of the Political Department of United Russia’s Central Executive Committee in late February 2008 went largely unnoticed. Demidov is a colorful Russian politician who became a cult figure among the young in the 1990s when he was a popular moderator and producer of youth-related programs for various TV stations. His new post as official chief ideologi...
Post-Soviet Nationalism and Russia's Future
Dr. Andreas Umland - 3/6/2008
The roots of Russia’s currently rising nationalism are threefold: pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet. The idea of Moscow as the “Third Rome,” i.e. of a special Russian mission in world history, goes back several centuries. Russian nationalism had been – contrary to what many in the West believed – an important element of Soviet ideology ever since the 1930s. Like in the early 19th century when Moscow’s so-called Slavophiles applied German nativist thought to Russian conditions, ideas of various Russian nationalist movements today are often imported from the West.
Russia's Psycho-war against India
Monotapash Mukherjee - 3/3/2008
Riding on oil, gas and arms export Russia is rising like a phoenix and is trying to build a world order parallel to the one conceived by the USA. In doing so, it has unleashed an intense, carefully calculated and calibrated psycho-war especially against the USA and India. Despite the Russian P.M. Viktor Zubkov's two day visit to India which he described as a 'trusted friend' of Russia, the psycho-war is still on. Let us briefly examine how all these happened, what the reflexes are, why the two need each other and what India should do to progress towards peace and prosperity as an independent and sovereign state.
ICJ and Armenian Genocide dispute
Cenap Cakmak, Ph.D. - 2/28/2008
Newspapers have reported that Turkey readies to take the longstanding Armenian Genocide dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN-affiliated judicial institution authorized to deal with interstate disagreements. In consideration of the growing problem in regards to the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide by a number of parliaments allegedly committed by Turkish authorities in early 1900s, Turkey has decided to prove in reliance on a global court’s judgment that the events may not be viewed as repercussions of the deliberative acts to destroy or eliminate a certain ethnic or religious group in part or as a whole.
Azerbaijan: In Search Of Multiple Identities
Prof. Alireza Asgharzadeh - 12/11/2007
This article focuses on emerging Azerbaijani identity and its competing versions in the Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran, and in the diaspora. The Republic of Azerbaijan has over eight million people compared with more than 20 million Azeris in Iran. The two groups have ethnic, linguistic, and historical ties but also different experiences, giving them both a common identity contradicted by other factors.
Russia and Qatar
Prof. Mark N. Katz - 12/3/2007
From 2004 to 2007, relations between Russia and Qatar went from extremely poor to remarkably cooperative. How did this happen? Considering that Russia and Qatar are both among the world's three largest producers of natural gas (the third being Iran), what does this Russian-Qatari rapprochement portend?
Armenia Becomes The Focus of Attention in the Caucasus
Gohar Gevorgian - 11/11/2007
Director of NAA (National Academy of Armenia) Institute of Oriental Studies Ruben Safrastian was the guest of "Hayatsk" club on Wednesday. He touched upon the three factors in the region, mentioning that the Armenian factor has gained a significant role in the world and especially Turkish policy. "In this case, Armenia is in the focus of attention in the region", he added.
Russia Opens the Pacific Front In Indonesia
David J. Jonsson - 10/9/2007
Vladimir Putin has the goal of reestablishing Russia as a world power and returning the world to a multi-polar world. While establishing travel through small airlines like citilink may not seem like much, it is only the beginning. Russia’s alliance with China and Iran with their global alliances through economic and military alliances presents the strategic basis for control and the elimination of the hegemony of the United States. The alliances span both the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam as exemplified by the relations with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Indonesia and Iran.
Putin's Dictatorial Streak
Angelique van Engelen - 10/7/2007
The Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t anywhere near as funny as his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, yet his actions are far more outrageous. Only a few days ago, Putin shocked both domestic onlookers and the international community by stating his plans to hold onto power at the end of an address of the country’s United Russia party. Even the most informed of analysts appeared to be mesmerized by the announcement.
Putin’s Russian Roulette
Angelique van Engelen - 10/4/2007
Vladimir Putin is the quiet sort. But he’s deep. He’s solved the puzzle that everybody expected him to solve, announcing how he’s planning to hold on to the power he’s accrued during his two term tenancy as Russia’s President.
Tahrir in Central Asia: How America Misreads Islamist Threats
Prof. Matthew Crosston - 9/21/2007
The following article examines and analyzes the philosophical underpinnings of the Hizb ut-Tahrir in Central Asia. It does so to highlight a larger, more important theoretical and policy point: The United States, in its global war against terror, has improperly defined what constitutes a legitimate Islamist threat. As a result, it mislabels many Islamist groups that do constitute a real security threat to the United States and to democratic regimes in general.
Russia's Spetsnaz and Islamic Terrorism
Ryan Mauro - 9/11/2007
There is no doubt that the Soviet Union played a tremendous role in the expansion and evolution of Islamic terrorism. Many of the people responsible for the policy of promoting fundamentalist miliancy still hold key positions in Russia. People can accept the fact that there are "anti-Bush" cliques inside the CIA and State Department, and the fact that there are "pro-Bin Laden" cliques in the Pakistani military ISI. Yet, for some strange reason, they cannot accept the fact that there are still "pro-Marxist" cliques inside Russia. I believe that the Russian Mafia operates in unison with these "rogue" elements, almost as a separate intelligence directorate.
Russian weapons in the Middle East
Natalya Hmelik - 9/1/2007
The last three days of July the leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas spent in Moscow . Actually, Mr. Abbas is the leader of the West Bank, with the Gaza Strip under control of Hamas radical movement, a rival of his Fatah party. But many in the world, including in the United States, Europe and even Israel, have recognized him as the only legitimate Palestinian leader and a great peace-lover and rushed to help him. Russian President Vladimir Putin also offered Mr. Abbas support in a form of 50 armored personnel vehicles for his security forces and an announcement that Russia had dow...
Russia: Bright Present, Dark Future?
Dieter Farwick - 8/11/2007
Summer time 2007 in Moscow and St.Peterburg is an exciting highlight for visitors.
Bombing Georgia - Is Russia To Blame?
Angelique van Engelen - 8/9/2007
Relations between Russia and Georgia took a turn for the worse when a bomb landed just outside the Georgian village Sjavsjvebi, 60 km North West of the capitol Tblisi, earlier this week. The international community has devoted modest attention to the incident but in the absence of any clarity on the issue there has been no condemnation of sorts of Russia, who the Georgians say is the culprit. The Russian government denies any wrongdoing but the Georgians believe two Russian SU-24 bombers dropped the device, which luckily failed to detonate. The bomb weighed nearly a tonne and if it had exploded, the disaster would have been vast.
Russia-UK’s Political Consensus Is In Recession
Bhuwan Thapaliya - 7/31/2007
Majority of the diplomats now agree on something. Practically all of them now say that the Russia-UK’s political consensus is in recession. Where they do not agree is over how deep and how long the political recession will be, and how robust the recovery, if it is to happen at all. Russia and the United Kingdom are playing a diplomatic see-saw. Last few weeks were a gift to critics of Russia and the United Kingdom ’s foreign policy. It all started with UK expelling four Russian diplomats following Moscow’s refusal to extradite the main suspect(Andrei Lugovoi, ex-KGB agent), in the murder of f...
Booming Russia and 'Regained' Prosperity For Russia
Bhuwan Thapaliya - 7/4/2007
The result was not unexpected, but it was still spectacular. Russian economy once reassuringly unpredictable is becoming more and more stable. Inflation is low, the current account is in surplus, the financial system looks rigid, and the public finances are sound and solid. Russian economy is rising and many economists expect it to rise further.
Collapse of the USSR - Figurative Meaning
Dimitri Kolb - 5/29/2007
There are different explanations of the sudden collapse of what used to be one of two superpoewers of 20th century. Economists blame the weakness of Soviet economy. Americans believe it is due to the Afghan war and Ronald Reagan, who called the USSR the "Evil Empire". Russians blame Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Grand Chess Masters—The Bear and the Dragon
David J. Jonsson - 1/5/2007
While the Iraq crisis continues, the strategy of the Grand Chess Master Russia the bear and China the dragon along with their pawns the Leftists, Marxists and Islamists continue to develop and put in place their strategy for the ultimate goal of world domination. General John Abizaid, the top US commander in the Middle East and John McCain argue about toop strengths. Many Democrats, including Carl Levin, who will become chairman of the Senate armed services committee in January, argue that the US needs to pressure the Iraqis by announcing a timetable to start withdrawing troops within four to ...
The Enrons of Russia
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/4/2007
Hermitage Capital Management, an international investment firm owned by HSBC London, is suing PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), the biggest among the big four accounting firms (Andersen, the fifth, is being cannibalized by its competitors).
Democracy And Development - A Geopolitical Instrument In Post-Soviet Space
Todor Kondakov, Ph.D. - 8/25/2006
The development of Russian-American relations has always been in the center of analysts' attention. In this connection, the statements on certain tensions between Washington and Moscow as well as on a potential change in the Russian geopolitical vector from West-bound to East-bound direction cannot but raise significant interest.
How Russia Deals With NGOs
Liliana N. Proskuryakova - 8/5/2006
President Vladimir Putin recognizes that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are useful tools for shaping global and national policy – and also for criticizing other world leaders. The second article in this two-part series examines Putin’s two-pronged approach in handling NGOs, a strategy on display during the recent G-8 summit in St. Petersburg: While keeping many Russian-based NGOs and opposition parties under tight security, Putin hosted representatives of international NGOs at his residence and acted as the voice of the “Civil G-8” at the meeting of world leaders. Thus, the president def...
Russia's Role in a Brave, New World
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/1/2006
This article was originally written in May 1999. How little has changed! Replace Yeltsin with Putin and the text, regrettably, is utterly applicable - even more so than when it was written. A president (Yeltsin) almost impeached. An important politician sacked due to incompetence. Business tycoons under investigation. The USA? No, this is the new, post-communist, Russia. Many firsts, meagre experience, numerous blunders. Is it democracy in action? No, it is simply autocracy exposed. The same machinations went on in Ivan the Terrible's court, the same conspiracies enshrouded Peter the Great's cabin, the same conflicts besieged Stalin. Ask Khruschev.
Energy geopolicy of the Ukraine
Todor Kondakov, Ph.D. - 8/1/2006
It is a well-known fact that the present authorities in the Ukraine consider the energy independency of the country from Russia for the topmost national priority. Over 90% of the deliveries of Russian natural gas for Europe go via this country and Belarus. But if Russian energy companies can reach agreements with Belarus, which is considered as a solid ally of Moscow's, the Ukraine has become a real nightmare for Kremlin after the victory of the "orange revolution". Furthermore, this does not concern the mere transit of energy raw materials for Europe - a much greater challenge is posed by the...
Interview with Ruben Safrastyan, Ph.D. on the Caucasus, Russia and Turkey
GP Interviews - 7/3/2006
Q: The statement of Matthew Bryza, OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair for settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict, caused numerous comments. What do you think on the occasion?
Ukraine: Challenges of Sovereignty
Teymur Huseyinov - 3/27/2006
In the March 26 parliamentary elections in Ukraine - a country that is a bridge between Russia and the EU - the voters will, once again, have to assess whether the direction where the country is headed for satisfies them. This time around opinion polls favor Viktor Yanukovich, the ex-Prime Minister and Yuschenko rival in the presidential elections of December 2004, followed by the sensational Orange Revolution that brought the latter to power. The reasons for this are manifold ranging from lack of political will on the side of the pro-Western President Yuschenko to soaring inflation and plummeting economic performance.
Oil: Recent Trends in Caspian Basin Energy Complex
Teymur Huseyinov - 3/7/2006
While Russia’s oil companies fuelled by the global surge in prices are pumping and exporting crude at full steam, its southern neighbors from Central Asia are concentrating their efforts in downstream sector, that is, development, production and marketing of petroleum products. The long-term strategic task is to gain a solid foothold in Russian and European energy markets.
Ukraine and the Processing of Export Zones
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/22/2006
Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, told, in Fenruary 2003, an assembly of senior customs service officials that "it is necessary to put an end to (Ukraine's 11 free economic and 9 priority) zones (and) liquidate them completely. (They) have become semi-criminal zones, and this refers not only to the Donetsk zone. You pull the meat that Europe doesn't want to eat into these zones and sell it there without [paying] taxes".
Russian Arms Trade: A New Threat
Natalya Hmelik - 12/12/2005
The Soviet Union was always preparing for war, so it's no wonder that the defense industry was the best funded and the most advanced sector. The Soviets annually transferred $20bn worth of weapons to other countries, but earned only $3m-$5m. The rest was so-called "political export" – a kind of donations to ideologically friendly regimes or gifts to militants making troubles to unfriendly ones. After the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia embraced the market, some expected the defense industry to bring enormous profits. That never happened. Former brothers in arms didn't line up with new orders...
Space Industry in Russia
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/8/2005
The recent (December 2005) spate of news about Russia's space program was decidedly mixed. According to Space News, the 17-country European Space Agency (ESA) declined to participate in Russia's $60 million, two-year Clipper manned and winged space vehicle program, a touted alternative to NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Russia's Idled Spies
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/15/2005
On November 11, 2002, Sweden expelled two Russian diplomats for spying on radar and missile guidance technologies for the JAS 39 British-Swedish Gripen fighter jet developed by Telefon AB LM Ericsson, the telecommunications multinational. The Russians threatened to reciprocate. Five current and former employees of the corporate giant are being investigated. Ironically, the first foreign buyer of the aircraft may well be Poland, a former Soviet satellite state and a current European Union candidate.
Transnistria and Tensions in Southeastern Europe
Manuela Paraipan - 11/11/2005
The Transnistrian Republic recently celebrated 15 years since it declared itself as a separate entity of Moldova. The international community often calls it "the Russian enclave". The enclave has today all the attributes of a semi functional, yet unrecognized state. It has its own Constitution, Parliament called the Supreme Soviet, army, currency, flag, etc. On the socio-economical level the state is the one in control of everything starting from education, mass media, to the financial sector. Despite the tensions between Chisinau and Tyraspol, Transnistria maintains relations with Moldova on political, social and economical levels.
Russia's Vodka Wars
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/4/2005
Vodka is a crucial component in Russian life. And in Russian death. Alcohol-related accidents and cardiac arrests have already decimated Russian life expectancy by well over a decade during the last decade alone. Vodka is also big business. The brand "Stolichnaya" sells $2 billion a year worldwide. Hence the interminable and inordinately bitter battle between the Russian ministry of agriculture and SPI Spirits. The latter, still partly owned by the state, is the on and off owner of the haloed brand "Stolichnaya", James Bond's favorite.
Transport And Energy Communications In Caucasus and Black Sea
Todor Kondakov, Ph.D. - 10/25/2005
It is a well-known fact that during the course of two centuries, Russia has been putting a lot of effort in enforcing its positions in the Black Sea and Caucasus regions, as well as in Central Asia. As a result of the series of wars between Russia and Turkey, the Caucasian war and the Turkistan marches, which ended with the inclusion of Khiva and Bukhara into the empire, this task seemed accomplished. Key element in the Russian domination in the above regions has always been the control over strategic communications between Europe and Asia.
Energy dialogue between Russia and the US
Dr. Alexandar Todorev - 10/9/2005
On a number of occasions the Russian President Putin has stated that the active involvement of his country into international and regional integration processes is one of the key instruments for modernization of national economy. This can be illustrated by the dialogue on energy issues between Russia and the US, which was activated in the last two years. In actual fact, the stability and predictability of world energy will depend largely upon the ability of diplomatic efforts on energy of both countries to find the sensible balance between various interests on global, regional and bilateral level.
Ukraine Government Difficulties Make Moscow Happy
Angelique van Engelen - 9/28/2005
Ukraine's faltering Orange Revolution is seen by analysts as something that was hardly avoidable. Many Eastern European countries went through a number of rapid successions in leadership before they somewhat stabilized. But given the EU's reduced appetite for new members any time soon, will this lead to greater chances for Moscow to embark on a renewed struggle for control over its neigbour?
Lysenko and Stalin's Genetics
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/22/2005
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976) was an agronomist. During the reign of Lenin and Stalin years in the Soviet Union, he became the chief proponent of the work of the self-taught plant breeder Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin (1855-1935) and his brand of Lamarckism - a pre-Darwinian theory of evolution of the species proposed in the French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829). He was appointed as the president (1938-56) of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the director (1940-65) of the Institute of Genetics, USSR Academy of Sciences. The leadership of the USSR believed his promises to deliver rapid increases in crop yields.
The USSR That Could Have been - Lenin's New Economic Policy
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/19/2005
Mikhail Gorbachev (1931- ) was not the first to introduce Perestroika - the economic liberalization of the communist system along capitalistic lines. During the Russian civil war (1918-1922) the Bolsheviks implemented what they called "War Communism" (1917-1921), the militarization of the economy. Between 1916 and 1920, industrial output plunged by more than four fifths. Grain harvests in both 1920 and 1921 disastrously dwindled, leading to widespread famine, claiming five million lives. A series of rebellions of sailors broke out, most famously in the Krohnstadt naval base.
Transnistria And Influence on Former Soviet Republics by Russia and the West
Manuela Paraipan - 9/13/2005
The Transnistrian Republic recently celebrated 15 years since it declared itself as a separate entity of Moldova. The international community often calls it "the Russian enclave". The enclave has today all the attributes of a semi functional, yet unrecognized state. It has its own Constitution, Parliament called the Supreme Soviet, army, currency, flag, etc. On the socio-economical level the state is the one in control of everything starting from education, mass media, to the financial sector. Despite the tensions between [Moldovan capital] Chisinau and [Transnistrian capital] Tyraspol, Transnistria maintains relations with Moldova on political, social and economical levels.
The Truth About Maxim Gorky
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/13/2005
Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) is widely considered a Bolshevik author, closely allied with the likes of Lenin and Stalin. But this is far from the truth.
The Armenian Genocide
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/6/2005
The Armenian massacres in Turkey started in the 19th century and continued well after the Armenian genocide of 1915 in which some 600,000 Armenians perished. The Armenians were also raided by Kurdish tribesmen on a regular basis. An Ottoman military tribunal, convened between 1919-21, even convicted for the crimes members of the administration of the Young Turks, including cabinet ministers.
Wanted: An East European Ataturk
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/10/2005
In November 2002, Citibank has become the first American bank to open a retail operation in Russia, replete with phone and Internet banking. It offers middle-class Russian clients in Moscow and St. Petersburg both ruble and dollar accounts, overdraft and loan facilities in both currencies, and even debit - though no credit - cards. Murky laws regarding ownership of real estate initially preclude mortgages. Citibank already has some corporate business in Russia with a modest asset portfolio of c. $1 billion.
Uzbekistan and America's Future Conflicts
Angelique van Engelen - 7/31/2005
As of next year, Central Asia will have come fully online to Western energy markets, as twin oil and gas pipelines linking the Caspian sea to Turkey will begin to deliver. By this time, the world will likely finally understand that US foreign policy, known to be energy focused, is intent on more than just bringing Iraq to its knees. This weekend's decision by the leadership of Uzbekizstan, just hours ahead of a key meeting with US officials, to ask US forces to leave its Karsy Khanabad airbase -dubbed K2- might be a turning point however.
Rasputin in Transition: Governments In New Democracies
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/31/2005
The mad glint in his eyes is likely to be nothing more ominous than maladjusted contact lenses. If not clean shaven, he is likely to sport nothing wilder than a goatee. More likely an atheist than a priest, this mutation of the ageless confidence artist is nonetheless the direct spiritual descendent of Rasputin, the raving maniac who governed Russia until his own execution by Russian noblemen and patriots.
Chechnya's Troubles Spill Into Dagestan
Angelique van Engelen - 7/22/2005
Russia is intensifying efforts to assert the idea of 'managed democracy' that topped the public agenda at the onset of President Vladimir Putin's rule a decade ago. The many questions that arose at the time regarding the future of the Soviet Union have by far not been answered. But one thing is clear; inactivity is the ultimate in destruction.
Russia and Turkey in South Caucasus: A Geostrategic Armistice
Prof. Ruben Safrastyan, Ph.D. - 6/26/2005
Two meetings of the Russian president V. Putin and Turkish Prime Minister R.T. Erdogan, held in the end of the last year and in the beginning of this year, as well as the wide spectrum of problems discussed and contents of the signed documents, marked the start of the a new phase in the Russian-Turkish relations. Experts spoke about that start in several recent years, and this phase can be characterized as the starting period of the real strategic process.
The Russian Devolution -Center and Regions in Putin's Russia
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/23/2005
A centerpiece of President's Putin overhaul of Russia is the reversion to the Kremlin of the power to appoint governors, hitherto voted into office. The popularly elected sort - admittedly a motley and venal crew - seem to have provoked his ire as far too independent and, therefore, impudent.
Book Review: "The Realm of the Secret Police" by Kuorsalo, Susiluoto and Valkonen
Antero Leitzinger - 6/18/2005
In 1700s, Count Mirabeau said that everywhere in the world states have an army, except in Prussia, where the army has a state. The same can be said about the power of the secret police in Russia of the 1900s. In Russia, the mighty secret police has ruled a mighty empire regardless of the shifts in ideology and external symbols. This is the conclusion of Anne Kuorsalo, Ilmari Susiluoto and Martti Valkonen in their critical assessment on contemporary Russia, which has now grown into a trilogy. The latest book of the three [Finnish Russia experts] especially studies the influence of post-war KGB, and its activities in Finland.
Interview with Prof. Safrastyan: "Armenia Must Get Rid Of Its Complex As Russia's Younger Brother"
GP Interviews - 6/17/2005
Prof. Ruben Safrastyan, Ph.D. is a Professor of International Relations at Acharyan University in Yerevan, Armenia. He's also the Director of the Department of Turkish Studies at Institute of Oriental Studies, Armenian National Academy of Sciences. In the past, he served as a Counselor of the Armenian Embassy in Germany and was the Deputy Director of the Department of Political Analysis for the Office of the President of Armenia.
Book Review: "The Political Economy of Post-Soviet Russia" by Vladimir Tikhomirov
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/13/2005
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it."
I remember the day in August 1998 when Russia ended its transition. As I walked to work, dwarfed by the decaying monumental buildings and potholed spacious avenues, I saw Russians gathering around exchange offices and banks. As opposed to (Western) media images, there was no violence in the air, just the quiet, matter of fact acceptance that is the hallmark of the Russian. Store shelves were stripped bare and for weeks I survived on stale bread and spaghetti. Peasants stre...
China's Manifest Destiny: Immigration and Land Claims Against Russia
Frederick Stakelbeck, Jr. - 6/1/2005
Legendary scenes of determined settlers bravely moving west in a journey to fulfill America's "Manifest Destiny" are being quietly resurrected. Only this time, Chinese migrants, not American settlers, are driving west into the cold, forbidding environment of the Russian Far East and Siberia.
Russia as a Creditor
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/30/2005
Russia is notorious for its casual attitude to the re-payment of its debts. It has defaulted and re-scheduled its obligations more times in the last decade than it has in the preceding century. Yet, Russia is also one of the world's largest creditor nations. It is owed more than $25 billion by Cuba alone and many dozens of additional billions by other failed states. Indeed, the dismal quality of its forlorn portfolio wouldn't shame a Japanese bank. In the 18 months to May 2001, it has received only $40 million in repayments.
The Economics Of Facilitating Regime Change in Uzbekistan
Angelique van Engelen - 5/25/2005
There is a growing feeling in the international community that it has been the West's support for Uzbekistan's dictator Islam Karimov that's helped boost this man's legitimacy beyond respect for human life. That the US and the UK are to blame in particular for the violent crackdown on protests in the Uzbekistan town of Andijan in which depending on who you believe between 169 to 1,000 people were killed by government troops. This makes it the bloodiest crackdown in the world since the 1989 Tiananman Square horror if you skip the Sudan´s Darfur massacres which run up body counts of 500 on a goo...
Russia's Energy Sector
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/24/2005
The pension fund of the Russian oil giant, Lukoil, a minority shareholder in TV-6 (owned by a discredited and self-exiled Yeltsin-era oligarch, Boris Berezovsky), forced, in February 2002, the closure of this television station on legal grounds. Thus was fired the opening shot in the re-politicization of the lucrative (and economically pivotal) energy sector in Russia.
Russia's Yukos Trial Does Not Benefit Its Foreign Investment Climate
Angelique van Engelen - 5/21/2005
The trial of the Chief Executive of Russian oil company Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has many wondering about the viability of investment projects into Russia. A number of Western companies recently has dropped plans and should Khodorkovsky be jailed for the 10 years people believe he might be sentenced to, the move would be strongly condemned by the US government.
International Condemnation of Uzbek Killings
Angelique van Engelen - 5/19/2005
The situation in Uzbekistan is said to be critical in the wake of the crushed riots in Andijan in the Islamic stronghold of the Ferghana valley. Government troops have closed off the town to prevent protestors to travel to the capital Tashkent. Borders with two neighboring countries are also closed. Islam Karimov, the country's leader, is known to be the strictest of the Central Asian republics' leaders and it is unlikely that he will pay heed to comments by the international community to relax his rule.
Russia's Alliance With America's Enemies
Ryan Mauro - 5/16/2005
From the end of World War Two to the end of the 1980s, the world remained divided between two powers indulging in the power struggle of history. While the world remained on the brink of nuclear war, this conflict came to an end, beginning with the collapse of the Berlin Wall. As the Soviet Union retreated from Eastern Europe, and eventually imploded upon itself, the United States became the sole superpower. Astronomical manpower, budget, and military cuts followed, along with the revival of terrorism in a new fashion deadlier than ever.
Genocide Factor in Armenia's Foreign Policy
Prof. Ruben Safrastyan, Ph.D. - 4/30/2005
Among the issues on the Armenian foreign policy agenda, perhaps the problem of the recognition of the fact of the Genocide and its condemnation is in many respects the most significant one. It also has a serious domestic political and all-national meaning (in terms of functioning of the whole Diaspora-Homeland system), as well as an important foreign political resonance.
INTERVIEW: Caucasus is No Longer the Source of Discord for Russia and Turkey
GP Interviews - 4/18/2005
Ruben Safrastyan, Ph.D. is a Professor of International Relations at Acharyan University in Yerevan, Armenia. He's also the Director of the Department of Turkish Studies at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. In the past, he served as a Counselor of the Armenian Embassy in Germany and was the Deputy Director of the Department of Political Analysis for the Office of the President of Armenia.
Vladimir Putin: Janus Look
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/17/2005
Even the most careful and informed perusal of Western policy papers and official announcements leaves one baffled. What is it the West prefers? Does it plump for an affable though ineffectual and constantly inebriated Yeltsin-style leader or would it rather have a thinly disguised authoritarian like Putin? The dilemma seems to be between anarchic democracy and authoritarian rule of law and order. The former agrees with get rich quick tycoons and bleeding heart liberals - the latter with foreign investors and weapons dealers (often one and the same). In Russia, what is good for business often goes against the grain of old fashioned liberalism.
Revolutions in Former Soviet Republics Do More Harm than Good
Angelique van Engelen - 4/16/2005
The recent visit of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Kyrgyzstan highlighted the US' commitment to maintaining its presence in the former Soviet Republics. Aside from Kyrgyzstan, the US is involved in Ukraine and Georgia, both of which saw revolutions prior to the March 24 coup which ousted President Askar Akayev from Kyrgyzstan. There's increasing support for the view that it is the US that is orchestrating these regime changes from behind the scenes in former Soviet Republics. They warn that this might in places incite precisely the Islamic nationalist strife that gave US forces the excuse to park themselves out there.
History of Government Provocations in Russia
Antero Leitzinger - 4/8/2005
The use of provocations as casus belli or as legitimisation of violence, pogroms and propaganda against ethnic and religious groups, and disinformation in order to lead the media astray both at home and abroad are not new phenomena in the political arena. They have a long tradition especially in Russia, from the anti-Semitic propaganda that once spread all over Europe to the present-day disinformation concerning the Chechens. The extraordinarily strong position of the secret police in Russian political culture can partly explain this gloomy side of Moscow's policies. This article enlightens the use of these methods against Jews and Muslims throughout history.
Kyrgyzstan: Why Tulips Are Not Roses (Or Oranges)
Sean-Paul Kelley - 4/7/2005
To the casual observer recent events in Kyrgyzstan resemble those of Georgia and the Ukraine. But as the euphoric opening moves of revolution pass, a political and geographical split widens between rival Kyrgyz clans. If the factionalization of Kyrgystan's divided polity continues it will destabilize the area and further complicate the tense relations of the region's contending powers.
Chechnya War: Economic Cost to Russia
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/7/2005
One hundred and eighteen hostages and 50 of their captors died in the heavy handed storming of the theatre occupied by Chechen terrorists three years ago. Then, two years later, hundreds of children and teachers were massacred together with their captors in a school in Beslan. This has been only the latest in a series of escalating costs in a war officially terminated in 1997. On August 22, 2002 alone a helicopter carrying 115 Russian servicemen and unauthorized civilians went down in flames.
Aleksander Lukashenka of Belarus: Europe's Pariah Strongman
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/6/2005
Most of the post-communist countries in transition are ruled either by reformed communists or by authoritarian anti-communists. It is ironic that the West - recently led more by the European Union than by the USA - helps the former to get elected even as it demonizes and vilifies the latter. The "regime change" fad, one must recall, started in the Balkans with Slobodan Milosevic, not in Afghanistan, or Iraq. Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former communist minister and the current president of Poland is feted by the likes of George Bush. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer and Russia's president, i...
The Kleptocracies of the East
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/31/2005
The process of transition from communism to capitalism was largely hijacked either by outright criminals in budding outfits of organized crime - or by pernicious and all-pervasive kleptocracies: politicians and political parties bent on looting the state and suppressing the opposition, sometimes fatally. In the past 16 years, industrial production in the economies in transition tumbled in real terms by more than 60 percent. The monthly salary in the poorer bits equals the daily wage of a skilled German industrial worker, or one seventh the European Union's average. Gross domestic product per c...
Where is Russia's Foreign Policy Headed?
Angelique van Engelen - 3/30/2005
Russia's official foreign policy is rather obscure and not unlike many of Russia's policies, most of which are largely carried out on what appears an ad-hoc basis by President Putin himself. Moscow's frequent rows with international organisations of are more or less an indicator of where it is at in its otherwise non-coherent strategy to enter into the international community. In anger over the role played by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukrainian and Georgian elections, Moscow recently threatened to withhold its $180 million membership fee from the organi...
Foreign Mercenaries in Chechnya
Aliheydar Rzayev, Ph.D. - 3/30/2005
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Closely related to the geopolitical aspects of the Chechen crisis is the issue of foreign interference in the region. It is a well-known fact that from the very onset of his political career Johar Dudaev has been counseled by several representatives of the radical, anti-Russian nationalistic circles from the former Soviet republics in the Trans-Caucasus, the Ukraine and the Baltic regions, who in practice formulated his first program for the building of an independent Chechen state. At the same time, immediately after the with...
Falling Dominoes: Kyrgyz People Overthrow Their Dictator
Ross G. Kaminsky - 3/26/2005
I'm pretty good at geography and even I couldn't show you Kyrgyzstan on a map. Still, the news of a popular uprising against yet another autocratic, oppressive regime is good news for us all. For the record, Kyrgyzstan is west of China and south of Kazakhstan. According to the CIA Factbook, it's about the size of South Dakota. It has a population of about 5 million peope, of which about 75% are Muslim and most of the rest are Eastern Orthodox Christian. It has a literacy rate on par with the West, 97%, and an equally incredible HIV rate of less than 0.1% (in 2001). The country is mostly agricu...
Kyrgyzstan's Revolution Highlights Profound Change
Angelique van Engelen - 3/26/2005
Kyrgyzstan's swift and sudden revolution happened almost before one could have managed to pronounce this obscure country's name. The chaos in the country where activists chased away their ruling leaders show a country coming to terms with a colonial past and on a quest to find a new identity. Despite the looting and the - tempered- violence, the initial reading of this revolution is that the catharsis might preclude a positive outcome. Not so much only for this tiny country, but more importantly perhaps in the wider context of the rise of democracy in the ex Soviet countries. Even the Russian...
Russian Opposition May Re-emerge With a Solid Candidate for President
Masha Beliaeva - 3/22/2005
Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, sacked by Putin last year, reappeared on Russian political horizon as a potential leader of the opposition and a presidential candidate. Kasyanov's candidacy as a leader of liberal coalition is not likely to speed up the process of much wanted unification between Russia's major liberal parties Yabloko and SPS. At present Kasyanov is the only solid potential rival to Putin in the run for presidential elections of 2008, while his timely come back as a pro-democratic leader is a sign that Russian political opposition may stand a chance.
Former USSR : Whose Empire is it anyways?
Angelique van Engelen - 3/21/2005
Neo-imperialism in the former Soviet countries is a term that sparks confusion more than controversy in Russia these days. Both Russia and the US are trying to call the shots in a battle for power that bears resemblance to the post WWII carving up of Germany into power bases of the allied forces. The two countries are ill at ease with each other's presence in the former Soviet countries and US efforts to include Russian army bases in NATO based structures are not successful at all. Are the two (former) superpowers on a collision course?
Anatoly Chubais: Russia's Last Oligarch
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/19/2005
Anatoly Chubais, head of Russia's electricity monopoly, survived an assassination attempt on March 17, 2005. A roadside charge, followed by a hail of automatic gunfire, failed to remove him from the scene. Even by the imperceptible standards of eastern Europe, the crony-infested Russian version of "privatization" was remarkable for its audacity and scope. Assets now worth some $25 billion were sold for c. $1 billion. A later loans-for-shares plunder was micromanaged by Anatoly Chubais, head of the State Property Committee, then heralded by the West as a "true reformer". Chubais enjoyed casting...
Ukraine: The Crouching Tiger
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/15/2005
Reading the Western media, one would think that Ukraine's main products are grotesquely corrupt politicians, grey hued, drab, and polluted cities, and mysteriously deceased investigative journalists and erstwhile state functionaries.
Ukraine: Russia's Younger Brother?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/14/2005
The "Orange Revolution" in October-November 2004 was a coup d'etat. It was a disorderly, though popular, transfer of power from one group within the "Dniepropetrovsk clan", headed by Leonid Kuchma and his henchman to another faction, headed by the volatile and incompatible Viktor Yuschenko and Yulia Timoshenko.
Russia's Second Empire
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/9/2005
History teaches us little except how little we can learn from it. Still, there is nothing new under the sun. Thus, drawing too many parallels between the environmentalist movements of the late 19th century and their counterparts in the second half of the twentieth century - would probably prove misleading. Similarly, every fin de siecle has its Fukuyama, proclaiming the end of history and the victory of liberalism and capitalism.
Organ Trafficking in Eastern Europe
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/7/2005
A kidney fetches $2700 in Turkey. According to the October 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, this is a high price. An Indian or Iraqi kidney enriches its former owner by a mere $1000. Wealthy clients later pay for the rare organ up to $150,000.
Russia and the Kipchak Curse
Antero Leitzinger - 3/3/2005
Empires are not born or killed, but transform themselves, disintegrate and reintegrate, reduce and enlarge their territory. An empire is preserved even when its dynasty changes because the change of regency does not necessarily imply changes in the culture of governance and strategic position of the empire. Kipchak was the name of a region that corresponds to present-day South Russia and Ukraine. It existed already before the conquests of Genghis Khan. The diversity of the peoples of Kipchak renders them uncountable, because they had, from the times of the Goths and the Huns, been moving aroun...
Ural, Russia: Potential Instability, Autonomy and Independence
Antero Leitzinger - 3/2/2005
Summary: The region of Idel-Ural, presently consisting of three Finno-Ugric republics (Mari, Mordovia and Udmurtia) and three Turko-Tatar republics (Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Chuvassistan) within the Russian Federation, forms a historically prosperous region with large natural resources. It used to be a site of glorious Tatar civilizations, and an important crossroads of both European and Oriental trade routes. Russia colonised this region in the 1500s, but since the fall of the USSR, several Idel-Ural republics have been looking for increasing autonomy from Moscow. Considering the region's...
Moldova's Communist Government Looks Westward
Jovan Franke - 2/13/2005
Located between Ukraine and Romania, the small ex-Soviet republic of Moldova holds the unenviable position as the poorest country in Europe with debilitating foreign debt and high unemployment. After a decade of ineffective reformist governments, the Party of Communists of Moldova (PCRM) was elected to power by a large margin, in February 2001, on a platform of pro-Russian policies. However, with the PCRM seeking re-election next month, the government has noticeably shifted its foreign policy direction by promising closer ties with the European Union. While this westward turn can be partially ...
Historical, Physical and Geographical Aspects of the Chechen Conflict
Whitney Garcia - 1/15/2005
The area known as the Caucasus in Russia is made up of six autonomous Russian republics nestled between Russia and Turkey, to the north and south, and the Black and Caspian seas to the West and East. The northern portion of the Caucasus, located in southwestern Russia, is home to the territory known as Chechnya. Chechnya extends over approximately 19,300 square kilometers (about 8,000 square miles) on the northern slope of the Caucasus Mountains and covers several natural regions, spaning from her highest point at 14, 741 feet in the south to the northern plains and lowlands.  Chechnya ...
The Circassian Genocide
Antero Leitzinger - 12/14/2004
The genocide committed against the Circassian nation by Czarist Russia in the 1800s was the biggest genocide of the nineteenth century. Yet it has been almost entirely forgotten by later history, while everyone knows the later Jewish Holocaust and many have heard about the Armenian genocide. "Rather than of separate, selectively researched genocides, we should speak of a general genocidal tendency that affected many - both Muslim and Christian - people on a wide scene between 1856 and 1956, continuing in post-Soviet Russia until today", writes Antero Leitzinger. This article was originally published in "Turkistan News."