Russian newspaper exposes Moscow’s “federalization of Ukraine” hypocrisy

Putin's federalization of Ukraine (Image: The Moscow Times)

The Moscow Times political cartoon for the article on Putin's campaign for federalization of Ukraine has Crimea removed from the "map" of Ukraine already (Image: The Moscow Times) 

2015/05/22 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia, Ukraine

“Moscow is not prepared to offer [Russia’s] regions freedom analogous to that which it is demanding for [Ukraine’s] Donbas,” despite the fact that Russia is nominally a federation and Ukraine is constitutionally a unitary state, according to a lead article in today’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta.”

Subjects of the Russian Federation (Image: Wikimedia.org)

Subjects of the Russian Federation (Image: Wikimedia.org)

In an editorial entitled “Is the Russian Federation Federal?” the editors note that Moscow is demanding Kyiv offer broad rights to its regions – although few in the Russian capital talk about extending such rights to regions of Ukraine other than those Russian-speaking ones in the east.

Kyiv has consistently responded that there isn’t going to be any federalization at all, the editors say. For the Ukrainian authorities, it is a matter of principle that “Ukraine is a unitary state and that it will agree only to decentralization, that is, to the delegation of part of the authority from the center to the regions.”

Moscow considers that “insufficient, unconstructive, a dead end, and something which will lead to the escalation of the conflict between Kyiv and the Donbas,” although such an approach is exactly the one Moscow has adopted in its dealing with its own republics and regions.

And that is the case even though “Russia in distinction from Ukraine is a federation” by its constitution and is much larger and more diverse ethnically, linguistically, culturally and historically than is Ukraine.

Major languages in Russia (Image: Daniel Dalet, d-maps.com)

Major languages in Russia (Image: Daniel Dalet, d-maps.com)

Indeed, at the present time, the Moscow paper continues, “it is impossible to imagine that any of the regions of Russia” could have an independent foreign policy. They cannot even have political parties based on ethnicity, something that in a genuinely federal state would be “completely normal.”

The real as opposed to constitutional nature of the Russian state is shown, the paper suggests, by the reaction to Chechnya’s proposal to allow polygamy. Russian anger on that score is completely logical if Russia is a unitary state but it would be illogical if Russia were a federal one.

This is not to say, the editors continues, that polygamy is “a sign of federalism.” Rather, it is to insist that “under conditions of de facto unitarism, a region will talk about its rights and freedoms by means of the most challenging jests, which demonstrate the radical difference,” something that it would not be as inclined to do in a genuine federation.

“Kadyrov’s Chechnya has thus in fact declared that it has won the right to be distinctive, even though by form it is part of a unitary model, with a single language, flag, educational system, branches of United Russia Party and even a Putin Street. But [Moscow] considers that Chechnya has not won anything” and that its efforts in this direction have been defeated.

Many in Russia argue for a unitary approach because many regions and republics, including Chechnya, receive subventions from Moscow, forgetting of course that that could have been avoided at least in the case of that republic if the center had agreed to allow Grozny to keep the profits of its oil industry.

But that is a lesson Moscow has not learned at least for itself, that it might have been possible to avoid the worst “polygamist excesses” by allowing the development of genuine federalism.

The “Nezavisimaya gazeta” editorial is important not only for the logic it outlines and for the way in which it underlines the Kremlin’s hypocrisy but also because it shows one of the ways in which Vladimir Putin may unintentionally bring the Ukrainian conflict back into the Russian Federation itself.

While Kremlin propagandists and many others in both Russia and the West will have no difficulty maintaining these two contradictory approaches in their own minds or at least discourse, others in Russia, Russian and non-Russian alike, will see Moscow’s push for federalism in Ukraine as an occasion for them to push for it in their own country.

To the extent that happens – and there is evidence among both ethnically Russian regions and the non-Russian republics as well – the most serious consequence of Putin’s campaign for the federalization of Ukraine may be demands for real federalism in a country that is constitutionally supposed to have it already, his own.

And if as seems certain the Kremlin leader opposes such efforts, the outcome could be truly serious indeed. After all, as many seem to have already forgotten, the USSR did not fall apart because Mikhail Gorbachev allowed power to flow out of Moscow to the republics but rather when, after having done so at least rhetorically, he tried to take it back.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Michel Cloarec

    URSS was also a federation of several SSR. What happened to it ? and the answer is giving a new question : WHY ?
    The stability of RF of today is not strong enough being kept together by an authoritarian gvnt ! The chechnya example shows that different political ideas are pulling apart the simple idea of a federalisation . It will be intenable and indefensible in the long run ! And then it will be back to 1991 and a new perestroika !

    • JAR

      Please, write more stuff like that and more often. Being Russian, reading people on the outside are rooting for Russia’s breakup has very potent mobilizational effect on all of us here.

      • commieslayer

        Then here is to you. We WILL dismember your despotic empire which falsely passes itself for a “Federation”. Mobilize all you will.

        • JAR

          lol, what’s funny is how uk’s trying to look like its contribution would be equal to America’s. Why not USA and Luxembourg vs Russia and China?

          So, we’ll change our name so that there would be no “federation” in it. Would it make you happy?

          • commieslayer

            France’s military power is about equal to that of Russia. The only thing that you have going for you are those Soviet era nukes, but Uncle Sam has an equally powerful deterrent. Get in touch with reality. You are overspent by NATO by a factor of 10, even if you include China.

          • JAR

            Threatening us with nukes? You are being so Putin-like.

          • commieslayer

            Nah, YOUR neo-nazi government threatened FIVE European Union member countries with nukes only during the past year. Obviously you haven’t been reading the news.

          • JAR

            FIVE? :O I heard about Denmark, but I don’t really consider it to be a threat… Practicing bomb runs on Sweden is not a threat, it’s just practice. Just ask Americans. In the good old days they practiced bomb runs on our Far Eastern parts.

            Where are you from, btw? So that I would know where brainwashed people dwell who like to think they fight commies, judging from your nickname?

          • commieslayer

            Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Poland. Will all get NUKED by Russia because of missile shields, NATO exercises etc. Read the news, even your Pravda talked about it. I am right behind you, in your nightmares.

          • JAR

            Nah, thanks, Pravda is not for me. But it’s ironic that commieslayers read communistic news centerpiece. 😀

            So, from?

          • commieslayer

            From your nightmares :)

            Have you ever heard the dictum “know you enemy” ?

          • JAR

            You bet I have. Can’t you tell from the quality of my English that we have heeded this dictum? :)

          • commieslayer

            Then you shouldn’t have threatened the strongest military alliance in the history of mankind with nuclear war. You fail for now. Good night and sweet dreams :)

          • JAR

            Actually, it wasn’t us who threatened the strongest military alliance, on the contrary – it threatened us. Them being strongest didn’t help and after everything their leader had to shoot himself in the head in an underground bunker.

          • Murf

            The Russian ambassador of Denmark threatened them if they join in the missile defense shielded.

          • commieslayer

            True, that was the fifths country threatened within the EU. Until now, it is the only West-European country which was openly threatened by someone in an official capacity within the Russian government. East-European member countries of the EU have been threatened incessantly for the past year. Some of them were even threatened before the Maidan revolution, such as Poland and Romania (because of missile shields). Nice to have Russia as a neighbor, huh ?

          • Murf

            What is surprising is not that they at like barbarians, They have always acted like that.
            What is surprising is the confused look on their faces when people resent them for it.
            They steal your wealth rape your wife and shot your dog until you agree to their terms than act like they want to be your friends.
            Totally dysfunctional.

          • commieslayer

            That’s why we have to arm Ukraine and all East-European neighbors of Russia ASAP. So that they can’t abuse them once again (they did it repeatedly in the past). The cost of workforce there is relatively low, so some arrangement could be worked out in which the stuff in produced in Eastern-Europe directly with EE labor but under US supervision through NATO. This way they could actually pay for most of it.

        • commieslayer

          I guess I’ll just wait until the moderators delete your troll account as well.

        • John Shirley

          Why don’t you pick a more friendly to St. Pete Troll site? You’re obviously not wanted here
          .May I suggest ” ABC News Ukraine”. You will be in heaven there because the moderators will show you preferential treatment over non-troll commenters. The more fake accounts that you have the better.You will be able to use all the profanities and slurs you want with impunity and never have to worry about being “deleted”. On the other hand if YOU don’t like someone else’s comment flag them and THEIR comment will be instantly “deleted” no questions ask.Until you leave, I guess we will just have “Deal With It”…

    • The truth

      Was ists das ?

      • commieslayer

        Rzeczpospolita is a Polish word meaning the (Polish) Republic. Ivan probably means the first Polish Republic, i.e. the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sometimes claimed to have had the first Parliament in modern history.

        • The truth

          Poland , another country which has been suffering so much from the Sovjet regime . One of the first country to start rebellion against this kremlin regime. One of the best country in EU nowadays. A country who deserves all respect and support from the world against those stupid moscovites.

  • JAR

    Look at another piece of manipulation – map of languages. Namely Yakutia. Yakutia is the largest federal subject of Russia, yet it has less than 1 million people. And yet if you look at the map and see Yakutia painted with “Yakutian” green color, you can think that this huge chunk of Yakutia speaks Yakutian, while in fact it speaks bearish, deerish, wolfish, and foxish, for one reason – it’s mostly uninhabited.

  • Nowhere Girl

    Typical. Russia also loves the idea of nations’ right to self-determination – but it only applies to “Novorossiya”, not to Chechnya…

    • commieslayer

      The mere name “Novorossiya” is an insult to history. It was the name given by the Russian Empire to the province in which they turned the former Zaporizhian Sich (Cossack State), after having betrayed, destroyed and occupied it. Please do not lend credence to that monstrous act by using that name.

      • The truth

        The day RF of today explode , what will moscow regions get for a new name ? Novomoscovy maybe ?

        • commieslayer

          I propose “Novotataria” or “Novomongolia”.

        • Fred Hernandez

          Novgorod Republic or North Rus?

        • gmab

          The Principality of Muscovy & Putin can become King or Emperor! of his tiny enclave.

    • The truth

      Paradox of carnival workers politics !

  • Murf

    Just more of Russia’s eye watering self serving hypocrisy.

    • Quartermaster

      Worse than that, Putin wants puppets in the Donbas.

  • Lev Havryliv

    The banana republics of Donetsk and Luhansk are enclaves of crime, corruption and misery. They are mini Putinstans.

    They have nothing of value to offer. Except of course for Putin as fronts for his war of aggression against Ukraine.

    • gmab

      Yes, even Girkin/Strelkov admits as much & he was there. If Russia were to stop support of that area, Ukraine could mop it up & throw it out in a matter of weeks. Here’s hoping!

  • Michel Cloarec

    Sovjet era was doomed from the beginning ! Sovjet using terror as a political weapon could not hold in the long run . Even when they managed to occupy several countries , they had the people against them , even if it was in silence, the resistance was stronger than what the leaders thought it was possible. That is what Gobbie find out and knew that URSS had to crash and it did . The same will happen with RF .
    All those grand schemes behind the communism has fallen . URSS, China .
    Fascism was not better and Franco,Cuba,Hitler,Pinochet, Where are they, what is left ? The dictators like sadam,idi amin,Khadafi,mussolini , Sadat etc…….Where are they ?

  • The truth

    Russia and its obsession about Ukraine !
    If stalin was alive , he could be an european the day Georgia is member of EU.
    The same apply for Putin ! What a blow !

  • The truth

    I wonder if all those warmongers are aware that russia does not have the control
    over the ballistic missiles detection ! In principle russia is as nude as a new born baby. Defenceless !

  • The truth

    Another blow on the RF political utopia !

    VISA FREE REGIME FOR MOLDOVA
    The citizenship applications started coming in, and not just from anywhere, but from Transnistria. The breakaway republic loyal to Russia is located on what Moldova
    considers Moldovan territory, and ever since Transnistria broke away relations
    between the parties have been frozen, not to say freezing, with no movement in
    either direction regarding Transnistria’s status. But Transnistrians themselves
    apparently have a clear idea of what they want. Those 74,000 amount to a fifth of
    the republic’s citizens. If the trend continues, Transnistria will soon have lost its
    citizens to Moldova, courtesy of an EU visa regime.

    On Thursday EU leaders meet in the Latvian capital of Riga for their fourth Eastern
    Partnership Summit, where they will among other things discuss giving Georgia visa liberalization as well. If they do, South Ossetia may go the way of Transnistria. To be sure, getting Transnistrians and South Ossetians to join their side was and is not the EU leaders’ intention. .

  • Vol Ya

    Who does putin think he is to dictate to Ukraine what type of constitution or political structure Ukraine should have. Putin has no support in Ukraine. In facts putin’s invasion of Ukraine has only served to unite the people of Ukraine like never before. Putin, stay out of Ukraine. Russia is a big country. I am sure there are parts of it that you haven’t destroyed, yet.

  • Michel Cloarec

    WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PUTIN !

    Texte par FRANCE 24 Suivre france24_fr sur twitter

    Dernière modification : 24/05/2015
    Une loi promulguée, samedi, par Vladimir Poutine va permettre à Moscou d’interdire la présence d’ONG étrangères installées en Russie. Le texte prévoit également la possibilité de bloquer leurs comptes bancaires et de poursuivre leurs employés.
    C’est une longue histoire de défiance et d’inimitié qui lie le président russe aux
    organisations non-gouvernementales internationales. Après avoir placé en 2012 les ONG étrangères – qualifiées d’agents de l’étranger” – sous le contrôle de Moscou,

    Vladimir Poutine a promulgué, samedi 23 mai, une loi permettant de les interdire si
    ces dernières sont considérées comme “indésirables” par l’État.

    Russia’s media watchdog has written to Google, Twitter and Facebook warning them against violating Russian Internet laws and a spokesman said Thursday (21 May) that they risk being blocked if they do not comply with the rules.

    Russia has blocked three major opposition news websites as well as the popular blog of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the latest in a media crackdown that comes amid Moscow’s standoff with the West over Ukraine.

    Government media watchdog Roskomnadzor said that it was adding three popular
    opposition news websites, including Grani.ru and EJ.ru to its banned list, along with Navalny’s Live Journal blog.

    The move comes days after the chief editor of one of Russia’s oldest and most
    popular news websites, Lenta.ru, was summarily dismissed over the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis.
    I THOUGHT THAT GOEBELS WAS DEAD ! I am wrong !

  • Michel Cloarec

    Sorry ! But if you go to france24 site you can have the english version !