Tuesday, November 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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In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

19:16 November 21, 2014


On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we use the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan uprising to look at how it changed both Ukraine and Russia. My guests are Sean Guillory and Alexander Motyl.

09:14 November 21, 2014
09:11 November 21, 2014


09:09 November 21, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:

Ukrainians are marking a new national holiday on November 21 -- the anniversary of the start of Kyiv’s Euromaidan protests that led to the ouster of the country’s former pro-Kremlin regime.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed decree on November 13 that declared the holiday for annual “Day of Dignity and Freedom” celebrations.
The protests began with a few hundred people who met spontaneously on a vast square in central Kyiv of November 21, 2013 – disappointed by then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a landmark deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
After that first night, as the protests quickly swelled to tens of thousands of demonstrators, brutal police efforts to disperse the crowds with batons and teargas backfired.
As the crowds got bigger, the protesters began to call for Yanukovych’s ouster – which came in February 2014 after more than 100 people were killed in clashes with police that failed to end the demonstrations.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was expected to announce an increase in nonlethal U.S. military assistance to Ukraine on November 21 as he meets in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The talks come on the first anniversary of the start of the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv that toppled Ukraine's former pro-Kremlin regime.
As Biden arrived in Kyiv on the evening of November 20, U.S. officials told reporters that he will announce the delivery of Humvee transport vehicles that are now in the Pentagon’s inventory of excess supplies.
They said Biden also would announce the delivery of previously promised radar units that can detect the location of enemy mortars.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not specify a dollar value for the assistance. 
Russia on November 20 warned the United States not to supply weapons to Ukrainian forces.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned against "a major change in policy of the (U.S.) administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine. 
He was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to fill the number two spot at the State Department, Anthony Blinken, who told a congressional hearing on November 19 that lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at."
The U.S. State Department's Director of Press Relations Jeffrey Rathke on November 20 told reporters that "our position on lethal aid hasn't changed. Nothing is off the table and we continue to believe there's no military solution."
He added, "But, in light of Russia's actions as the nominee mentioned [on November 19] in his testimony, as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at."
The aid expected to be announced by Biden on November 20 falls short of what the Ukrainian president requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid - a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia's movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.
In September, Washington promised Ukraine $53 million in aid for military gear that includes the mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars, small boats, and other nonlethal equipment for Ukrainian security forces and border guards in the east.
The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.
(With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and TASS)

Russian Olympian hockey player Slava Voynov – who plays with the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team – has been charged with felony domestic violence against his wife.
Voynov faces one felony count of spouse abuse with a maximum penalty of nine years in prison. If convicted, he also could be deported.
Prosecutors say Voynov “caused his wife to suffer injuries to her eyebrow, check, and neck” during an argument at their home in October.
Voynov has been suspended from the NHL since his arrest early on October 20 at a California hospital where he took his wife for treatment.
Voynov’s attorney, Craig Renetzky, says his client didn’t hit his wife.
Renetzky blames the charges on a misunderstanding between police and Voynov’s wife, who speaks very little English.
Voynov – who played on Russia’s team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics -- faces arraignment on December 1.
(Based on reporting by AP and Reuters)

NATO says Russia's growing military presence in the skies above the Baltic region is unjustified and poses a risk to civil aviation.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Tallinn on November 20 that the aircraft regularly fail to file flight plans or communicate with air controllers and also fly with their transponders off.
Speaking at the Amari air base, he said alliance fighters have intercepted planes more than 100 times in the Baltic region alone so far this year, a threefold increase over 2013. 
He did not say how many of the intercepted aircraft were Russian.
Stoltenberg also said that, overall, NATO aircraft have conducted 400 intercepts to protect the airspace of its European alliance members in 2014 -- an increase of 50 percent over last year.
(Based on reporting by AP and AFP)


16:55 November 19, 2014


Konstantin Eggert has a commentary in "Kommersant" on Russia's anti-Americanism. He opens like this:

"Sometimes I have this feeling that there are only two countries in the world - Russia and the United States. Of course, there is Ukraine, but it either to join us or the Americas. Russian politicians and state television are constantly in search of the 'American hand' in all spheres of our life. In Soviet times, the United States was formally considered to be our number one military and ideological enemy. But even then it didn't occupy such a large space in the minds of the political leadership and citizens. And the paradox is that, on one hand, officials and the media regularly talk about the decline of America as a great power, and on the other declare it to be the source of all evil in the world. This contradiction does not seem to disturb anybody."

And closes like this:

We still have not been able to use the opportunity that we were given with the collapse of the communist regime - to arrange our lives based on liberty and civic virtue. And today, we, as a people, want to go back to the starting point, to beat everyone. And the Soviet Union, with its absence of sausage and freedom, again suddenly seems sweet and dear. But it won't happen. I will put it banally: you can't go into the same river twice.

Read the whole thing here (in Russian, with audio)

15:53 November 19, 2014


MIchael Weiss, editor-in-chief of The Interpreter magazine, appearing on Hromadske TV to talk about Russia's information war.

Michael and Peter Pomarantsev recently co-authored an excellent report "The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money." Both also appeared recently on The Power Vertical Podcast to discuss the report.

15:42 November 19, 2014


Oleg Kosyrev has a snarky and clever blog post on the subject up on the Ekho Moskvy website. 

1) The United States is the ideal opponent. "It is big and strong and your self-esteem increases when you fight somebody really influential."

2) The United States is not fighting with Russia. "They aren't really interested. They have enough of their own problems and dreams. It's nice to fight somebody who is not fighting you."

3) It is a substitute for the authorities' inability to benefit Russians. "How convenient. Who is to blame for rising food and gas prices? The U.S.A.. Who is to blame for the fact that Russian has political prisoners? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for people demonstrating on the streets? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for the fact that independent international courts denounce the Russian court system? The U.S.A. You can even blame the U.S. for the fact that the light doesn't work in the entrance to your apartment building."

Read it all (in Russian) here.

15:23 November 19, 2014


14:47 November 19, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Ukraine says it will not tolerate pressure from any other country over whether or not it seeks to join NATO.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebyynis spoke made the remark to reporters in Kyiv on November 19, after the BBC quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying in an interview that Moscow wants "a 100 percent guarantee that no-one would think about Ukraine joining NATO."

Hitting back with a reference to Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Perebyynis said Kyiv would like guarantees that Moscow will not interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs, send in troops, or annex Ukrainian territories. 

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, told journalists on November 19 that any decision on seeking to join NATO could be made only by the Ukrainian people, not by Russia, Europe, ar the United States.

The Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, made a similar statement on November 19.

(Based on reporting by UNIAN and Interfax)


President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is ready for cooperation with the United States as long as Washington treats Moscow as an equal, respect its interests, and refrains from interfering in its affairs.

Putin spoke November 19 at a Kremlin ceremony during which he received the credentials of foreign envoys including John Tefft, the new U.S. Ambassador to Moscow.

Putin said, "We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in various fields, based on the principles of respect for each other's interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal matters." 

The remark echoed a formula Putin set out in a foreign policy decree at the start of his third term in 2012.

Tefft, 64, is a career diplomat who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. 

His posting starts at a time when ties are badly strained over the Ukraine crisis. 

Tefft replaces Michael McFaul, who was ambassador from January 2012 until February 2014. 

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)



Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has signaled that a landmark nuclear arms treaty with the United States is not in jeopardy despite severe tension over Ukraine.

Speaking to Russian lawmakers on November 19, Lavrov said the 2010 New START treaty "meets our basic strategic interests and, on condition of its observance by the United States, we are interested in its full implementation."

The treaty, one of the main products of President Barack Obama's first-term "reset" of ties with Russia, requires Russia and the United States to have their long-range nuclear arsenals under specific ceilings by 2018.

But Lavrov said the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which President Vladimir Putin suspended in 2007, is "dead" for Moscow. 

NATO has refused to ratify a revised version of the CFE treaty without a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

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