Monday, August 29, 2016

The Power Vertical

Kalashnikov In The Kremlin

Maksim Kalashnikov laments "the collapse of the first Soviet Union."Maksim Kalashnikov laments "the collapse of the first Soviet Union."
Maksim Kalashnikov laments "the collapse of the first Soviet Union."
Maksim Kalashnikov laments "the collapse of the first Soviet Union."

RFE/RL’s Russian Service has been reporting steadily in recent weeks about the inroads that a certain Maksim Kalashnikov has been making in getting his views on Russia’s future heard at the highest levels in the Kremlin.

In October, at the personal request of President Dmitry Medvedev, Kalashnikov laid out his ideas in a long meeting with presidential chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin. Sobyanin later said he had forwarded Kalashnikov’s ideas to the Russian Academy of Sciences for its recommendation.

On December 4, Kalashnikov again visited the Kremlin, this time for a face-to-face with Sobyanin’s deputy, Vladislav Surkov, who oversees domestic political arrangements. Asked to comment on that meeting by RFE/RL, Kalashnikov said he wouldn’t talk to “you dogs” and referred our reporter to his blog.

RFE/RL’s correspondent phoned the presidential press service to ask about Surkov’s conversation with Kalashnikov and got a classic run-around. The press service gave the correspondent a number to call and the gruff-sounding man who answered the phone insisted that all information is distributed only by the press service. “So they gave you my number,” he said. “But all our contact with the mass media takes place through our respected and entirely remarkable press service.”

“I don’t know who Maksim Kalashnikov is,” the bureaucrat added, “because I only work with papers.” (Interestingly, although Medvedev mentioned Kalashnikov’s meeting with Sobyanin on television and Sobyanin has said he forwarded Kalashnikov’s projects to the Academy of Sciences and Kalashnikov has told RFE/RL that he met with Sobyanin – despite all these things, a spokesman in Sobyanin’s office told RFE/RL “there was no such meeting.”)

So who is Maksim Kalashnikov? A provocative blogger who has praise for Hitler and Stalin. A futurologist whose many books envision a restored Russian empire that seems a lot like a non-ideological Soviet Union (his 2003 book “Forward To The USSR-2” echoes the reform plans originally touted by Yury Andropov in the early 1980s). Former RFE/RL analyst Victor Yasmann wrote about Kalashnikov’s works here, here, and here.

Kalashnikov is a leading figure of the Moscow-based Institute of Dynamic Conservatism (the director of the institute, Andrei Kobyakov, is best known for his 2003 treatise, “The Sunset Of The Empire Of The Dollar And The End Of The Pax Americana”). Under his real name, Vladimir Kucherenko, Kalashnikov is an author of a 2008 manifesto called “The Russian Doctrine,” a pre-publication version of which was endorsed in 2007 by then-Metropolitan and now-Patriarch Kirill (see also, here).

He has blamed the “Jewish wing of the Bolshevik party” for detaching Ukraine from Russia and said in an interview with RFE/RL that “Josef Vissarionovich [Stalin], thank God, suffocated that wing.”

In an essay appended to the print edition of “The Russian Doctrine” and entitled “Russia’s Chance In The 21st century: Breaking Out Of The Global Time Of Troubles,” Kalashnikov begins with an account of how U.S. global hegemony in the wake of the end of the Cold War is collapsing. He compares the situation of the United States today with that of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, “losing its zone of vital interests” and undergoing economic paroxysms. “We are standing on the threshold of incredible events, a historic collapse…. And the United States does not have the power to stop this.”

Kalashnikov then proceeds to say that this collapse affects not only the United States, but “the entire white race.” He repeats the “sad joke” that “in American universities, Russian professors are teaching Chinese students at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

But in all this turbulence, Kalashnikov sees an opportunity for Russia – “Once again God is sending us a great opportunity.” Russia, he writes, was the first country to enter this new “Time of Troubles,” the first to be deprived of “a great country (the USSR) and powerful industry.” The first to feel the effects of “the new barbarism” and to endure the “degradation of society” and the individual. As a result, he believes Russia can be the first to emerge from the crisis, while “Europe lies in a profound morass and the United States simply may not be preserved as a whole country.”

In fact, Kalashnikov’s views in many particulars echo those of former KGB analyst Igor Panarin, who has made a name for himself predicting the collapse of the United States (Panarin has found eager audiences among some conservatives in the United States recently, many of whom applaud his comparisons between U.S. President Barack Obama and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev). In 2006, Panarin’s website published a proposal for the unification of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Armenia by 2008. By 2010, according to the plan, the new state would include Mongolia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Bulgaria, and by 2014, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, North and South Korea, and all of Eastern Europe would have signed up to join this Eurasian Rus.

“Dynamic conservatism” indeed!

(Kalashnikov and Panarin are part of a general resurgence of Russian "conservatism" that I wrote about here, where I highlighted the challenges this ideology poses to liberal notions such as the idea that there are universal human rights.)

Kalashnikov wraps all the geopolitics up in paeans to the power of advanced technologies (he uses the phrase “nanotechnology” almost as often as Medvedev himself). Now, it appears, his views have attracted Medvedev’s attention. It will be interesting to see what emerges when the ideas of the author of “Forward, Russia!” merge with those of the author of “Forward To The USSR-2.”

-- Robert Coalson

Tags: kalashnikov,conservatism,medvedev,Russia

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Michael Averko
December 09, 2009 16:52
There're overly ambitious and provocative ideas to be found elsewhere. What does and doesn't get highlighted at RFE/RL is in line with its slant. One wonders how influential some of the featured chap's views actually are? Let me know when the Russian government formally endorses them.

Here's an example of an imperialistic analytical overview, which is downplayed by RFE/RL and some other Western based venues:

Upon entering this link, note how Ukraine is hypothetically broken up for the benefit of expanding NATO.

The orange and yellow portions going to NATO includes western Ukraine, Kiev and south central Ukraine.

The blue portion of Ukraine out of NATO includes eastern and southeastern Ukraine.

The article notes how the shaded in yellow south central Ukraine has been generally considered as being closer to the blue portion, that's designated as staying out of NATO.

Reality wise, the areas shaded in yellow on the map have more in common with the blue portion than the orange part.

As for the orange part, I'm not of the impression that Kiev has more in common with Lviv (orange) than Kharkov, Odessa and Donetsk (blue).

Put mildly, the hypothetical scenario doesn't seem likely - at least for the moment. In Ukraine, a good number of folks still want a unified Ukraine. This viewpoint includes elements on both sides of the "Orange"/"Blue" divide. How likely is it for Odessa to be part of the Ukraine affiliated with NATO, versus the part of Ukraine out of that organization? In addition, I don't think that Russia is so gung ho on such a division.

"Strategery" can lack a knowledge of the involved histories and cultures at play. In any event, the zero sum game East versus West issue seems to be a significantly diminished topic, regarding the upcoming presidential vote in Ukraine.

Other analysis is of the view that some influential folks in eastern Ukraine feel that they can eventually woo western Ukraine for a combination of reasons that don't exclusively involve such issues as: NATO expansion, Russian as an official language and the status of the Orthodox churches.

In relation to this point is the continued sentiment within Ukraine to keep that republic together as one. This can be reasonably achieved in a delicately managed way, that balances the various views.

Some suggestions for balancing out the varying sympathies:

Referendums can decide such matters as NATO membership and the status of the Russian language. On the latter, if the result isn't in favor of making Russian a second official language, a provision can be made for it to be something close to an officially recognized language.

The issue of the three Ukrainian Orthodox churches can be formally premised on the freedom of choice.

IMO, if this view of seeking to break up Ukraine is being seriously considered (which I don't think/hope is the case), Russia-West relations could get unnecessarily rocky. In that instance, Russia will not be the instigator.

by: Vlad from: Moldova-US
December 10, 2009 14:30
Human rights and freedoms of all peoples should be respected. Regarding Ukraine (same for Abhazia, Ossetia, Transnistria, Kurdistan...) there should be referendums and if people of Southern and Eastern Ukraine want to be independent or join Russia that is fine. If Western Ukraine wants to join NATO that is fine too.

Mr. Kalashnikov is a clear ultra-right. It is dangerous for this kind of people to influence Kremlin. I am a Russian speaker from Moldova. Russia does not care about Russian speakers and their rights. It cares about its influences and uses oil and Russian speakers in that. I have been to Russia and seen discrimination there.

These days I am for Moldova joining EU and NATO and I trust EU more then Moscow. I wish Russia was a democratic and free society.

by: Michael Averko
December 10, 2009 17:59
By just having a visit to the Kremlin, the mentioned chap isn't by default seeing his policies (at least the ones considered the most provocative) implemented by the Russian government.

Like I said, please inform when that happens.

Meantime, it's not consistent to overlook some other views elsewhere, which can be reasonably considered as negative.

As for breaking up Ukraine to benefit NATO, this should be done with the agreement of the Ukrainian population at large. As is, that population doesn't appear to support such a move.

BTW, it's quite easy to break up other countries on the basis of how different regions feel on a certain issue.

The referenced map on how Ukraine would be broken up contradicts the regional sentiment found in that republic.

Overlooking this while perhaps hyping the role of a Russian can lead to unnecessary problems for NATO, Russia and others.

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or