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