Saturday, October 25, 2014

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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17:49 October 24, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of escalating conflicts around the world by imposing what he called a "unilateral diktat."

Putin made the remarks in a combative speech to political experts at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin said the United States has been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

He said risks of serious conflicts involving major countries have risen, as well as risks of arms treaties being violated.

He also dismissed international sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "mistake," saying they aimed at pushing Russia into isolation and would end up "hurting everyone."

We did not start this," he added, referring to rising tensions between Russia and the West.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, TASS)


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call to push for a quick resolution of the ongoing gas dispute with Ukraine as winter looms.

The call by Merkel to Putin on October 24 comes as representatives of the EU, Russia, and Ukraine are due to meet again next week in EU brokered talks aimed at solving the gas dispute between Kyiv and Moscow.

Merkel also underlined that upcoming elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists must respect Ukrainian national law.

Pro-Russian insurgent leaders are boycotting a parliamentary snap poll on October 26 in Ukraine and are holding their own election in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, home to nearly three million people, on the same day instead.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)



The United Nations says the conflict in Ukraine has forced more than 800,000 people from their homes.

Around 95 percent of displaced people come from eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, told a briefing in Geneva that an estimated 430,000 people were currently displaced within Ukraine -- 170,000 more than at the start of September.

It said at least 387,000 other people have asked for refugee status, temporary asylum, or other forms of residency permits in Russia.

Another 6,600 have applied for asylum in the European Union and 581 in Belarus.

The agency said it was "racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people" as winter approaches.

It also said the number of displaced people is expected to rise further due to ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine.


Three alleged militants have been killed by security forces in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee says that two suspects were killed in the village of Charoda in Daghestan on October 24 after they refused to leave an apartment and opened fire at police and security troops.

One police officer was wounded.

Also on October 24, police in another North Caucasus region, Kabardino-Balkaria, killed a suspected militant after he refused to identify himself, threw a grenade towards police, and opened fire with a pistol.

A police officer was wounded in that incident.

Violence is common in Russia's North Caucasus region, which includes the restive republics of Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Chechnya.

Islamic militants and criminal groups routinely target Russian military personnel and local officials.

(Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS)


A lawyer, who represented an alleged victim of the notorious Orekhovo criminal group in Moscow, has been assassinated.

Police in the Russian capital say that Vitaly Moiseyev and his wife were found dead with gunshot wounds in a car near Moscow on October 24.

Moiseyev was representing Sergei Zhurba, an alleged victim of the Orekhovo gang and a key witness in a case against one of the gang's leaders Dmitry Belkin.

Belkin was sentenced to life in prison on October 23 for multiple murders and extortion.

Last month, another of Zhurba's lawyers, Tatyana Akimtseva (eds: a woman), was shot dead by unknown individuals.

The Orekhovo group was one of the most powerful crime gangs of the Moscow region and in Russia in the 1990s. Its members are believed to be responsible for dozens of murders.

(Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax)

17:27 October 24, 2014


17:26 October 24, 2014


17:00 October 24, 2014
08:29 October 24, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge -- to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 policemen on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

It that percentage holds on election day it would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax)



Moscow has denied claims of an incursion by a Russian military plane into Estonia's airspace.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency on October 23 that the Ilyushin-20 took off from Khrabrovo airfield in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on October 21.

The spokesman said the reconnaissance plane flew "over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea" while on a training flight.

On October 22, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Tallinn, Yury Merzlakov, after the Estonian military said the Russian plane had entered its air space.

In a statement, NATO said the Ilyushin-20 was first intercepted by Danish jets when it approached Denmark, before flying toward non-NATO member Sweden.

Intercepted by Swedish planes, the alliance said the Ilyushin entered Estonian airspace for “less than one minute” and was escorted out by Portuguese jets.

NATO has stepped up its Baltic air patrols and Moscow has been accused of several recent border violations in the region amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.

Last month, Estonia accused Russia of abducting one of its police officers on the border.

Russia claims Eston Kohver was seized inside Russia on September 5, while Estonian officials say he was captured at gunpoint in Estonia near the border and taken to Russia.

The European Union and United States have called for the immediate release of the Estonian security official, who is facing espionage charges in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Navy has been searching for a suspected submarine sighted six days ago some 50 kilometers from the capital, Stockholm, although it said on October 22 it was pulling back some of its ships.

Swedish officials have not linked any particular country to the suspected intrusion and Moscow has denied involvement.

(With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and the BBC)


A Moscow court postponed to next week a ruling on a move to take control of Bashneft, an oil company from tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The judge said on October 23 that the next hearing will take place on October 30 after the prosecution requested more time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors filed the suit in September to regain state ownership of Bashneft, citing alleged violations in the privatization and subsequent sale of the company to AFK Sistema investment group.

Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder of the conglomerate, is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition in 2009.

Yevtushenkov, 66, was arrested on September 16.

He is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

11:11 October 23, 2014


According to a report in the pro-Kremlin daily "Izvestia," deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Western politicians "do not understand the essence of Russia."

"Volodin stated the key thesis about the current state of our country: As long as there is Putin there is Russia. If there is no Putin, there is no Russia," Konstantin Kostin, head of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, told "Izvestia."

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