Refugees returning to Ukraine from Russia will deepen divide between two countries, Shlosberg says

Children of Ukrainian refugees from the Donbas in Russia (Image: RIA Novosti)


Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Moscow will be pushing out of Russia early next year all those who fled Ukraine. Their presence in Russia has deepened Russian suspicions about people from Ukraine, but their return to Ukraine will even further deepen the split between the two countries because of the experiences they had in Russia, Yabloko activist Lev Shlosberg says.

Lev Shlosberg, the only member of Russia's Yabloko opposition party in Pskov Oblast Assembly (Image: FB)

Lev Shlosberg, the only member of Russia’s Yabloko opposition party in Pskov Oblast Assembly (Image: FB)

Putin’s war in Ukraine has hit Russians in a number of ways: its costs, including the impact of sanctions, has been high, and there have been real human losses, but especially damaging to the Kremlin’s line has been the expectations and behavior of those, ethnic Russian and not, who initially fled the conflict to the Russian Federation, he says.

In the course of a wide-ranging interview, Shlosberg calls attention to the ways in which the refugee flow, encouraged by the Kremlin, has worked against Putin’s policies in Russia both countries.

Even as Russians shift their focus from Ukraine to Syria, many of them are rethinking their position about what has occurred in the former, the former Yabloko deputy in Pskov oblast says. “In many regions of Russia, they have seed the nature of the people who came from Ukraine,” many of whom expected an easy ride because of what they had seen on Russian TV.

Russians in Russia began to understand that “many of these did not want to work but only to live at the expense of the Russian state; and this is one of the reasons why as of January 2016, all the offices for Ukrainian refugees in the Russian Federation will be closed” and the refugees themselves forced to return home.

The refugees are being told that they can’t expect such support and that they must go back because “’ there is already no war.’ The refugees will inevitably be returned to Ukraine – they will simply be deported. Then they will tell everyone that things in Russia are not as they are presented on [Moscow] television.”

The expectations that Russians had about the war and the expectations that the refugees from Ukraine had as well – including the idea that Russian tanks would “at a minimum” reach Kharkov are no more. “Now everything is finished: the ‘Novorossiya’ Project is closed and will not be reborn again.”

The refugees are not the only ones coming to realize the gap between what state television shows and what reality is. Ever more Russians are doing so as well, the Yabloko activist says. “Russia is becoming ever more like the Soviet Union where on television are shown great successes… but people understand they are poor and don’t have basic products.”

The expectations that Russians had about the war and the expectations that the refugees from Ukraine had as well – including the idea that Russian tanks would “at a minimum” reach Kharkov are no more. “Now everything is finished: the ‘Novorossiya’ Project is closed and will not be reborn again.”

This is still hidden by the government’s control of the media and by the fact that “there is today no parliamentary opposition in Russia at the federal level.” The four parties in the Duma are only nominally different. Instead, he argues, “we have in essence a one-party parliament: all of them are Putin’s parties.”

In the Pskov Oblast Assembly, there is a two-party parliament: there is one large pro-government fraction consisting of United Russia, Just Russia, the KPRF and the LDPR, and there is the Yabloko faction consisting of a single individual. In the majority of regions of Russia, there isn’t even that.”

“The situation in Ukraine has split Russian society,” Shlosberg continues. Of the constantly operating federal parties, only Yabloko and PARNAS have not recognized the annexation of Crimea. All the remaining political parties, in the first instance, the parliamentary parties, viewed this event with enthusiasm.”

the number of those who want to shoot or hang people from lampposts now in Russia is higher than it has ever been throughout the entire post-Soviet period.

The existing configuration of power in Russia “could remain unchanged for a long time as was already the case in the period of the Soviet Union. [The top jobs] could be transferred from hand to hand in the form of a special operation such as the one conducted between Yeltsin and Putin in December 1999.”

“Power could also be changed as the result of a coup, when some part of the elite acting for itself decides to remove the top people by one or another means.” But “the very best variant which unfortunately now is the least probable is via honest and free elections, independent courts, free media,” and the fulfillment of imperfect constitution and laws.

Yabloko favors this peaceful variant for one very compelling reason: “the number of those who want to shoot or hang people from lampposts now in Russia is higher than it has ever been throughout the entire post-Soviet period.” There aren’t enough lampposts because there are so many targets of hate.

If however a revolution begins, Shlosberg concludes, “this will not be a Prague Spring or a Polish variant but something much worse than even when the Maidan was shot at in Kyiv. Therefore, we must do everything for the peaceful change of power in Russia. If we don’t cope with this task,” he says, “catastrophes will not be avoided and not only for Russia alone.”

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    As far as I know Dwarfstan wants to kick Ukrainians out, but the Donbas refugees were specifically excluded from this. Has the policy changed recently, and are the Donbas refugees now targeted as well? What gives?
    And where will they go to if they do have to leave Dwarfstan? The enclaves of the so-called LNR and DNR? What do they think they will find there? If they believe they will find prosperous enclaves heavily subsidised by the demented dwarf they will be in for a shock- many mines flooded and out of commission, factories looted of anything useful which was then carted off to Dwarfstan, and the remainder scrapped first and then carted off. So, no gainful employment- which means joining the Kolorads, a bunch of criminal alcoholics and drug addicts according to Girkin. Some life to look forward to…. NOT!

    • Michel Cloarec

      What a bunch of loosers , how is Ukraine going to deal with this uppcoming situation. More pro-russians at charge for the country ! What a mess !

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        If the Donbas refugees that fled to Dwarfstan are, indeed, to be deported, I doubt whether they will remain pro-Dwarfstan. Would YOU remain pro-Dwarfstan if the demented dwarf decided to kick you out after first having offered you shelter from the war, used you for propaganda purposes?
        I suspect that the Donbas refugees will be deported because they have served their purpose politically, but are now becoming a liability. To save face the dwarf will claim that the refugees don’t want to work but prefer to live at the state’s expense- which the state can no longer afford because of the collapse of the oil and gas prices. Earlier there were stories about the refugees being responsible for a rise in crime in Moscow….. there’s a pattern here, I think, Dwarfstanians are being brainwashed to become anti-refugees. That way there won’t be much protest if they are expelled.

      • gmab

        This will only aid his Plan to destabilize Ukraine. Someone will have to support them, as many are homeless thanks to the terrorists. This is a tragic mistake. Putin has used them and discarded them. However, he may ask Ukraine or the West for Billions to keep them awhile longer, like Turkey’s deal with the EU.

        • Brent

          Then it’s time to call in Merkl’s offer of $500 million Euros to rebuild the Donbass. She supported Putin, now she can come through on her promise to rebuild Donbass and she can invite her little cohort Hollande to pony up some cash too.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            500 million won’t even begin to cover the costs of rebuilding the Donbas. And that’s something the demented dwarf should pay for anyway.

          • Franco DeCelis

            Yes you and Dagwood and perhaps a few other Ukie Canadians tell him. And I am sure he will quake in his boots.

            Some time last year Obama, the Kenyan mixed-race gentleman, the Australian Premier and Canada’s ‘arper talked about isolating Russia . Well the Australian guy was kicked out by his own party, Harper was Harpicked by a Pretty Boy and the Kenyan has been sending Kerry to see Putin like the proverbial carrier pigeon.

    • Brent

      Maybe they will bring the truth about “Putintopia” to the delusioned in Donbass so they will finally turn on the Russian supported terrorists currently in control of Donbass. I smell a reality check in the future!!!

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        The demented dwarf will probably have them dropped off at the frontier with Kharkiv or Sumy Oblasts rather than the so-called LNR or DNR- he wants to create more problems for Kyiv, not for his beloved henchmen in the enclaves.
        As for turning on the Kolorads, I think that is unlikely. The people in the so-called LNR and DNR are prime examples of homo sovieticus donbassus and femina sovietica donbassa. Like those living in Dwarfstan they are too apathetic to turn on anyone, especially when they know that Zakharchenko, Pushilin, Plotnitsky and Co will have no problems whatsoever in turning their AK-47s or heavier stuff on those that dare protest.

      • Franco DeCelis

        Don’t worry. They will go to Kiev where they can become very rich. Like the son of the American vice-president.

  • Yoshua Zafoy

    Nikolai Patruchev talked about the coming refugee crisis one year ago, about people fleeing poverty, war, failed economies and failed states. He talked about the need for Russia to build up its army to be able to defends its borders since Russia with its energy and natural resources whould be a target for the coming flood of refugees.

    Today the flood has reached Europe. The Muslim world is collapsin due to over-population, poverty, war and failed states and millions of refugees are heading towards Europe.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      But Dwarfstan is not DEFENDING its borders, old boy- it is EXPANDING them by seizing territories that are part of other countries- Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Crimea and the Donbas- in acts of open aggression.

      • Yoshua Zafoy

        True. Attack is the best defence ?

      • Franco DeCelis

        Yes we agree Dag.. You can’t stop that man. Perhaps if you call him a dwarf, he might stop.

        On the other hand I see it like this. You can have leaders with cojones or sin cojones. Harper and Pretty Boy are sin cojones. That’s the luck of the draw. On the other hand if your chiefs have nothing to do with you, whether they have cojones or not is irrelevant. They don’t give a toss about you. If you or 8,000 like you die, means nothing to them. They would even order you to fight to the finish even if you are completely surrounded. Do you catch my drift, Dag?

    • Brent

      The Muslim World is collapsing due to religious wars, part of which are sponsored by Putin’s support of Assad murdering his own citizens.

      Let Russia defend its own borders instead of expanding them into other countries and there will be less refugees created.

  • Nowhere Girl

    And a year ago Russian propaganda was claiming that Ukrainians are en masse fleeing to Russia (by showing photos of queues at the Polish-Ukranian border, which were quickly recognised)…

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The demented dwarf is running out of $$$ and he is cutting back on everything possible- except, of course, his wars in the Donbas and Syria and expanding his armed forces and security services. The Donbas refugees who fled to Dwarfstan have served their propaganda purpose and are now a liability, especially financial. So, what better purpose can these “dear brothers and sisters” serve now than to give Kyiv a new problem and at the same time reduce the burden on Dwarfstan’s treasury?
      Even the most dim-witted of the refugees in Dwarfstan should realize by now that they were merely pawns, to be exploited and discarded at the dwarf’s pleasure.

  • Franco DeCelis

    Paul Goble is right. Even more than that Ukrainians are asking themselves why in Ukraine its people like the Yabloko activists who are the owners of the country and control the government. And why is it that the senior government posts seem to be barred to ethnic Ukrainians, eg president, vice-president, prime minister, speaker, finance minister….

    How can a country develop if the ruling class is non-ethnic Ukrainian as if the country was a nineteenth-century colonial African country?