Contemporary Russia and Post-Soviet States

P.Marchenya, S.Razin

International Round Table Russia and the Post- Soviet Space: Problems and Prospects (Moscow, 2013)

On 16th of April 2013 the Institute for the Humanities and IT (IGUMO) in Moscow hosted the international round-table Russia and Post-soviet Space: Problems and Prospects held in the framework of the research project titled The People and Power: The History of Russia and Its Falsifications [1]. Together with the IGUMO and The People and Power project group the co-organizers included the Russian State University for the Humanities and the journals The Union and The New Historical Bulletin.

The round table focused on the interdisciplinary analysis of the contemporary geopolitical situation in post-soviet space, with 20 experts participating in the discussion representing research institutions, scientific journals editorial boards, universities from Russia, Belarus and the USA.

This article outlines the most substantial presentations delivered in the course of the discussion [2].

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Alexandra Dokuchaeva (senior researcher, head of Department of Diaspora and Migration, Institute for CIS Countries) made a talk on the Russian language as a linkage, resource and instrument of integration among post-soviet countries.

She argues, there are different views about the destiny of the Russian language in the post-soviet space, with nationalists of all sorts sharing the same opinion that Russian does not need to be specially promoted and propagated. Kazakh nationalists aim at the complete ousting of Russians and Russian from Kazakhstan, whereas Ukrainian nationalists take action against the fairly moderate Law On basic principles of national language policy offering the Russian language the status of a regional language. It must be admitted, though, that it can get this status only in regions with native Russian speakers exceeding 10 % of the population, which means that entire Ukraine, probably, except for its westernmost areas, will have Russian as a regional language. Russian nationalists-isolationists, in their turn, are against the expansion of the Russian language beyond Russia, particularly opposing to Russian spreading in the countries of Central Asia.

The status of the Russian language is most likely to affect whether the near abroad will become for Russia a belt of friendship, neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperation or an area of confrontation. Likewise the former soviet republics own role and position in contemporary world will depend on how this problem is resolved.

The language policies of former USSR republics remain politically influenced by their priorities in domestic and foreign policy. The current position of the Russian language has resulted from the policies of post-soviet ethnocratic nations largely based on anti-Russian myths and stereotypes. Nevertheless, 20 years after the collapse of the USSR the Russian language continues to be the main medium for interethnic and interstate communication in post-soviet space. It prevails among internet users in post-soviet countries.

The preservation of the language in post-soviet countries is directly linked with the proportion of their Russian speakers and the increasing demand for it among migrant workers who visit or plan to visit Russia.

In this context it is worthwhile to assess the implementation of the State Federal Program of Assistance in Voluntary Resettlement of Compatriots to Russia. The second stage of the program which was launched this year is designed to facilitate adaptation process for those who will come to Russia.

To keep the Russian contingent abroad it may be reasonable not to encourage all to move to Russia, but to address the possibility of double citizenship granted to the Russians who stay in countries of their residence. This is what a lot of Russians involved in this program would propose to ensure: the Russian citizenship on a simplified basis. There is evidence that Kasakh citizens would come to the city of Omsk to join in the resettlement program, get the Russian citizenship and come back to Kasakhstan because they find it hard to settle down in Russia. It is largely due to the fact that conditions for business in Kasakhstan are better in terms of organization and legislation compared to Russia.

Educational institutions in post-soviet countries fail to ensure proficient knowledge of Russian. The Russian language courses are cut, with literacy among speakers and users of Russian dropping sharply. The system of teaching Russian needs drastic improvement. Moreover, Russia itself has very serious problems with the acquisition of Russian. The current (fourth) Federal Program for the Russian Language (2011 2015) differs from the previous ones in that it fails to address the issue of developing the Russian language as a national language of the Russian people. As a result no subsidies have been made in recent years promoting the Russian language and Russian philology. Obviously, such approach cannot facilitate the development and expansion of Russian in post-soviet space.

The destiny of the Russian language in post-soviet space first and for most depends on the destiny of Russia and the Russian people. In case Russia becomes the centre of attraction for post-soviet nations the Russian language will be in demand not only among the Russian population but also from all those who want to live, work and study in Russia, who take interest in Russian culture and value their connections with Russia.

Igor Kuznetsov (leading researcher, Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences) argues that the integration potential of immigrants should not be overestimated. In his opinion, there is only a small proportion of people who want Russia to become their second native land, their Homeland, a permanent habitat for them and their children. This part of migrants have high integration potential, however, facing innumerable problems for its implementation.

The great majority of migrants arrive to Russia without feeling interested in the country and its culture. They come to Russia to solve some economic problems arising in their homeland with no intention to stay and settle here for good. Their objective is to earn and leave or, more often, to commute to Russia for work. Therefore, all kinds of talk and efforts to get them integrated into Russian culture seem groundless as they simply lack motivation for that. They do with minimal knowledge of Russian to communicate with employers and officers from the Federal Migration Service, some awareness about rentals, etc.

The average age of the current migrants is 3035. Raised in other countries, they are not similar to the former soviet people, enlightened by Russian culture many of them cannot even speak elementary Russian. What sort of information they will bring with them on their return home depends on the way they are received here. Perhaps the migrants only advantage over the local workforce is their cheapness and readiness to work in slavery conditions. Should the employers be made to provide the migrant workers with (at least, minimal) social package: decent accommodation, legal defense, health care, cultural program and adequate payment, then the newcomers would immediately become unprofitable. As a result, their total unintegratedness (or rather, unintegratability, as they lack such vital need), humiliating labour and living conditions shape the corresponding attitude toward the country. Above all, they feel extremely negative sentiments to people present in huge amounts in the receiving environment who live by standards extremely different from those of the receiving population. Such is the information the migrants are likely to bring back to their homeland.

Finally, the Russians negative attitudes toward migrants seriously affect their attitude to the old timers, their long integrated compatriots: Azerbaijanians, Armenians, Tadjiks, etc. Negative attitudes to the Vietnamese, for instance, would spread on Russian mongoloids, quite a substantial part of Russias autochthonous population. This is likely to trigger secession mechanisms within the Russia Federation, this time from the grassroots, unlike in the 1990s during the parade of sovereignties, mostly, meaning the parade of national elites. But this is already a matter of Russias national security and integrity.

Andrey Chertishchev (professor, Chair of Philosophy, Moscow University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia) argues that Russia cannot, perhaps, compare to any other country where the myth plays such a big role in treating the reality and future events.

He distinguishes between the conservative-monarchal myth of pre-soviet Russia ( the imperial myth) and the marxist-leninist (communist) myth. After the well-fitting mythological system of communism collapsed the resulting ideological vacuum was immediately filled with new socio-political myths created by different social groups. The liberal-democratic myth was extremely short-lived, with its degradation the people lost trust in their state and stopped feeling themselves as full-right citizens who could influence the authority through democratic institutions. The crisis caused the demand for changing from the liberal mythology to the conservative-protective anti-western one ( an alloy of neo-stalinist and pseudo- imperial ambitions) which is based on the mythologeme of the messianism of the Russian people (appealing to the imperial consciousness) and Russias opposition to the developed countries referred to as the West whose spiritless and egocentric liberal values are allegedly incompatible with the Russian mentality. The collapse of mythologies leads to the loss of national and state identity.

Russias citizens proved to be unprepared for another, non-soviet life both mentally and spiritually. Now they lack the historical state, spiritual significance, great ideas and prospects about the future. 20 years after the USSR disintegration for the majority of Russian population their 70-year-old soviet history is what they value most of all. People are used to surviving, to living under calamity, with the country looking like an orphanage. People have a feeling that the country no more belongs to them.

The factor of stability can be mentioned only in the one context: some are doing consistently well while the others are doing consistently poorly; there is permanent aggression, violence, bias, intolerance, envy and lie, ubiquitous shirking, complete devaluation of an individual, of his dignity and personality, with prices and corruption steadily rising. This lack of self-confidence, of ability to live and act as all happy nations do may have brought about the current (and at the same time the old) fashion for a special Russian way.

Where and how Russia will move on can be outlined in terms of the following major options.

The distructive option: further disintegration of the Russian Federation, the formation of a conglomerate of states on the basis of such regions as Central Russia, Caucasus, Krasnodar krai, the Urals, Western and Eastern Siberia, the Far East, etc.

The pessimistic option: Russia turning into some sort of a domestic colony whose people is largely used for protecting national resources tapped in the interests of a narrow circle of people.

The realistic option: recognition of Russias way out from the spiritual deadlock. This is not just another more scientific communism, but a fundamental systematic return to the natural historical process implying both glorious victories and hard failures. It gives a valuable chance for survival as well as large-scale accomplishments.

The optimistic option: achieving the nations grandeur, revival of the Russian Empire, securing Russias prosperity. However, strivings for assembling the body of the new/old Russian Empire in the near future are quite illusionary because as the events of 1917 and 19801990s witness the nations failed to constitute a single USSR/Russia, a common Motherland, so there was no regret about parting with some of them at some point. Today they are ready for all sorts of cooperation with Russia: receiving help, education, work, refuge and protection. Nevertheless, as revealed in private talks, neither soviet nor younger generation, in particular, feels like being under Russia. They dont need the big brother any more.

The utopian option: to break with any past, both the czarist and the communist one, and build up a new Russia from scratch with regard to freedom and human rights. In any way, Russia has to make its choice based on the three-fold panacea: to rely on God, to be realistically-minded and to tell the Truth as well as on the key principle of putting the human being in the foreground as the greatest value.

This choice will depend on whether the population recognizes the unbreakable bond with ancient Russia or will choose to worship communist ideals.

Natalya Buleshova (head of the Chair of Business Economics, the Institute for the Humanities and IT (IGUMO) thinks that Russia today should see clearly its role in post-soviet space.

She argues that the ongoing integration processes in different regions of the world can serve as a model for the post-soviet states, particularly, taking into account the existence of a number of factors facilitating the establishment of a powerful integration group in post-soviet space, such as differentiation of labour which was shaped in the former single economy and which, to some extent, has been kept intact until now; the cultural and historical unity of nations; technological interdependence and unified technical standards still current in post-soviet countries.

However, the developments now taking place in post-soviet space are controversial and ambiguous. Today, like 20 years ago, political elites of post-soviet states still find it difficult to strike a balance between economic profitability and corporate interests. The growing integration processes in Eurasia are faced with counteractions from those who are not interested in a new strong geopolitical and geo-economic player emerging on the global scene. Among such forces the US comes first. According to Z. Brzezinski, the USAs prime interest lies in ensuring that Eurasian geopolitical space remains no mans land for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, the countries of the region have recognized that national ambitions should give way to mutually advantageous economic cooperation. Eurasian integration has been further stimulated by the global economic downturn and Russias assistance to some of the CIS countries in such conditions. It is clear today that economic integration must unite those countries which are ready to give up some of their interests for the sake of some strategic purposes essential for the Customs Union. The formation of the latter was a reasonable step which has led to tariff-free goods turnover increasing annually as well as increasing freight traffic through common transportation corridors. Possibilities are emerging for domestic customs and duties, tax holidays and subsidies for agriculture. The CU member states have obtained an economic shield against attacks from outside and a safety belt for inevitable stock fluctuations of oil and gas prices.

The research group from the Institute of Economic Forecasting of RAS estimates the total effect (profit) to be obtained from the activities of the Customs Union by 2015 at about $ 400 billion. The members of the CU are expected to get a 15 % increase of GDP due to integration. In 2011 alone the mutual trade in the CU accounted for $108.3 billion.

At the same time the integration within the Customs Union is fraught with some sort of a conflict leading to a tenser competition among enterprises in some industries (metallurgy, construction, agriculture, trade) and consequently to some budget losses. However, the competition on the domestic market is unlikely to rise considerably for most countries. But in the industries where it will happen the total economic effect is expected to be positive. It will be achieved by lower monopolization of markets and equilibrium prices.

Alexander Mikhaylenko (professor, Chair of Russias Foreign Policies, Department for National Security, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economics and Civil Service) argues that Russia pays prime attention to the Eurasian integration project. In his opinion, certain success has been achieved in it, though recently the process has slowed down a little. At present it is largely a process initiated from the top which does not embrace wide population, middle and small businesses. As every such top-down process it is subject to conjecture. Naturally, full support for the project from the presidents of the three countries: Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is essential in their political systems.

The Round Table made numerous references to the EU experience. Latvia, for instance, joined the Eurozone despite the results of the populations opinion poll, with the government supporting the entrance. Nevertheless, only a wide support of the population for Eurasian integration can make it irreversible.

The three countries joined the Customs Union in 2010 and the Single economic space in 2012. Provided the set objectives are met these countries are expected to arrive at the level of an economic union. Each of these stages in EU economic integration took about a decade to accomplish whereas in these countries it is done in 2-3 years. It appears to be a revolutionary development, rather than an evolutionary one, which is discussed in this country and in the other two. Revolutions are known for their strategic breakthroughs, but also for possible failures.

The expansion of the Eurasian Economic Space is another challenge facing Eurasian integration. The membership of Kirghizia is being in the pipeline while work is still being done to get Ukraine involved in the project.

As follows from the EU experience, no serious geopolitical grounds will account for a countrys admittance to an integration union if it is not ready for it, because this will only weaken the union. Kirghizia does not prove to be economically ready for the integration whereas Ukraine is not ready politically.

Oleg Bukhovets (professor, head of the Chair of Political Science, State Economic University of Belarus) poses the question: Is there any alternative to Eurasian integration?

He points out that the 19801990 disintegration processes in the USSR and the socialist camp were viewed by many as historical nonsense, with the global tendency of developing and creating strategic integration associations being well under way elsewhere at that time. The EU stood out among them as the most ambitious, extensive and unprecedented project.

The expectations basket from the West in Russia and other Eurasian post-soviet nations was quite huge over the first post-soviet decade. Those were expectations for the western community to help with the transition of the failing plan economy to the market one as well as expectations for assistance in overcoming acute social consequences following the transition. There were hopes for the West to behave loyally with Russia and the CIS in military and political spheres, etc.

It took some time to realize all the groundlessness of most hopes on the part of the elites of Russia and other CIS countries expecting understanding and solidarity from the West. Starting from mid-1990s it became increasingly obvious. Such understanding was facilitated by the default in Russia and its neighbouring states, the war against Yugoslavia started by the western alliance, the invasion in Iraq, and encouraging the colour revolutions in post-soviet space and in other regions. Finally, the expectations basket from the West, especially in Russia, became considerably lighter.

However, some of major expectations are still there, in this basket at the beginning of the I century, with the EU being regarded as a model integration project of our time and a road map for the creation and successful development of all other economic associations in different regions of the world. Such was the understanding of the EUs role with the following expectations for some sort of participation in the construction of the United Europe that was common in Russia and other post-soviet countries among the ruling elites, think-tanks and in public opinion.

Oddly enough, the EU crisis, unintentionally, has led to a more balanced idea about EUs strengths and weaknesses realized by Russia and other post-soviet countries. This triggered another positive effect of the EU crisis: other integrated associations, particularly, in post-soviet space were able to advance from the shadow cast by the EUs integration model. Now they are gaining self-sufficiency to the extent which will ensure the advance toward a polycentric world. This world can hardly be imagined now without integrated strategic unions. No matter how strong and long-lasting the current global and European crisis is, it fails to cancel the integration imperative which runs as follows: All roads lead to the place under the economic sun via integration.

Being a XXI century categoric imperative for all continents, integration as a key issue of the global middle- and long-term agenda will increasingly grow in importance. This explains why the late XX century witnessed the demand for EUs expertise arising from integrated associations in various regions of the world. Many analysts share the opinion that under globalization the major regional economic unions formed around the main contemporary civilization centres leave a small choice for separate nations: either they will have to enter into the influence zone of the poles of economic power or they will get marginalized. At present the countries which are not involved in strategic integrated associations, even though they are very large, like Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, are losing and will continue to lose their positions in international division of labour, science and technology modernization and economic competition. Hence, using the popular slogan from the perestroika period, one can say: nothing else is given (there is no other way) for the post-soviet space.

Andrey Suzdaltsev (deputy dean, Department for Global Economics and Politics, Higher School of Economics) thinks that the US priority interest in the post-soviet space is not Russia, but Ukraine. The latter, he argues, is the key country in the game which is being played now in the post-soviet space. The issue about the destiny of Ukraine is the one about the destiny of the entire post-soviet space. GUAM was what Russia rejected. It united the countries offended by Russia: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Uzbekistan (the latter left in 2005). Russia did not find the pass to their hearts, so they were picked up by Americans, which was the right thing for them to do: geopolitics is devoid of no mans land and spare spaces.

With Eurasian integration blending in with the WTO, the Eurasian integration project was legitimized by the global community. Thus an opportunity emerged to link the Eurasian integration project at the supranational level with the European one. However, it has not been achieved so far.

Today all limitations for transfer of goods, services and workforce among Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus have been lifted. There is a single system of technical regulation. Mutual trade has increased, including that between Belarus and Kazakhstan, the latter two starting from almost zero level at the very start of the project. Nevertheless, there are problems about domestic investments and capital transfer, with the Russian capital being feared of and barred from Kazakh and Belarusian markets.

Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus were very fast to approach the fourth integration stage in its classic European form, that is Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

However, this project was impeded by some forces. A serious impediment on the way to Eurasian integration is the resistance of Kazakh and Belarusian bureaucracies. There are still barriers for mutual trade. Kazakh and Belarusian markets are closed for the Russian capital.

Russias serious problem is the dollar being the main currency used for settlements in the Customs Union and Single Economic Space. Changing from the dollar to the ruble for mutual payments is a matter of Russias security, a matter of viability of the Eurasian integration project. This is a huge problem, with Minsk and Astana being against the ruble as a regional currency.

In the course of the work of the Eurasian Economic Commitee the Russian members were faced with the problem of consensus voting used by this body. The consensus vote can result in this supranational structure turning de facto into a body making decisions in the interests of separate integration participants, but not all of them. Nowadays the committee is ruled by the representatives from Belarus. They would make blocks with the Kazakhs and lobby for decisions they are interested in. The Belarusian agenda is predominant: whenever the Horizont TV sets need to be saved the tariffs are raised, whenever the MAZ lorries need to be saved the tariffs are raised, and so on. This is a dangerous situation which needs to be improved.

For Russias partners the decisions made on integration development issues are not strategic ones, but a matter of conjuncture whereas for Russia they are strategic ones. Russia goes to great expenses, in the Unions Russian-Belarusian project alone Russian subsidies, bailouts, reduced prices, hidden market since 1995 accounted for $72 billion as of 1st January 2013. Russia offers access to its resources and its markets, with the expenses very often paid by the Russian producers. Today Russia lacks a solid national project that would appeal to its neighbouring countries. The elites of Ukraine, Belarus and some other post-soviet nations are Europe-oriented. It complicates the cooperation with these pro-Western elites struck with varied anti-Russian phobias. Russia has an extremely limited number of levers to be used for affecting the elites in question.

The USSR collapsed 20 years ago which is, in historical terms, a very small span of time for a truly national elite to get formed. This is a very hard and slow process. In fact, normally a fully-fledged elite takes a few generations to get formed. Taking into account that Russias elite was more than once cut out during the XX century the present transitional situation will remain for a quite a while.

The European experience cannot be completely transferred onto the Eurasian integration. Russia should borrow only what is suitable for it. The problem is that Russia has to integrate with hardline authoritarian regimes which can be hardly integrated in principle. There is some serious struggle going on every issue. To give up a tiny piece of power means for Nazarbayev and Lukashenko undermining their own political authority. No matter how hard it is, Russia is still trying to lure them into integration and through it reform their economics.

Dmitriy Lyukshin (associate professor, Chair of Political History, Kazan Federal University) focused on the formation of Russias cultural, intellectual, entrepreneurial and labour elites capable of formulating a new empires national project.

He argues that there are either national states or empires. The national state project is not good for Russia as there is no god-bearer-nation. Therefore any state construction will be conceived within the framework of an imperial project.

The Euroatlantic post-imperial and post-state intellectual trends are not available for Russia, if only partially, by way of sending kids to study at Oxford. However, to refer to them in public rhetoric addressed to the rank and file is considered to be risky: the mobilizing potential of these categories practically equals zero. Moreover, they are confronted with aversion and no understanding among representatives of the fifth and sixth echelons of Brezhnevs soviet bureaucracy acting in the role of Russias democratic authority.

The quality of Russian elite was set up in Stalins post-war terror epoch by negative selection mechanisms, with the selected government cadres being far from the best. Without drastic overhaul of cadre strategies the quality of Russian elites will be going down. The revision of strategies is, however, the responsibility of the acting elites that would not choose to sign their death sentence even for the nations sake. Naturally, this is not specifically Russian problem, but in Russia the situation is aggravated by the absence of NGOs offering competition with bureaucracy.

The empires resources are used inefficiently. Practices of putting order in the sphere of state governance block every possibility of running a reasonable life in Russia. As satirist M. Zhvanetsky once remarked in the Soviet time, the most scary thing for a soviet citizen is when the government turns to him face to face. Since that time a new elite generation has emerged even still more carefully selected.

The names of empires in global history are often mentioned without adding that they are all gone. Even the British Empire has officially denounced its imperial policy without causing panic and apocalyptic visions among British subjects. Empires inevitably end in death. The empires algorithm, which is a superficial expansion of the metropoles social sphere at the expense of the robbed colonies yielding the fruits and extravagancies of civilization, unavoidably leads to the collapse and destruction of the state whose resources potential no longer can bear the burden of the excessive social institutions.

This is quite evident: the number of potential colonies being limited, their management boosts expenses in geometrical progression. Not a single empire has managed to utilize colonies to their limits, so far: all of them would get exhausted prior to that. However, this has never diminished the successors optimism over imperial rule and order of global scale. The death of an empire is just a matter of time. While skillful management can maintain the states body for hundreds of years, elites low qualifications cause a fast and painful collapse. The soviet elite, over 70 years degrading into an inefficient bureaucracy, reproducing itself by means of negative selection, turned out to be one of the worst ones, that is why some of Russias citizens were lucky to have witnessed twice the death of the empire

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To sum it up, the international round-table Russia and Post-soviet Space: Problems and Prospects offered its participants a wide range of varied, sometimes completely opposite views of contemporary scientists.

Among this variety and diversity of issues and topics discussed the main attention of the experts was drawn to Eurasian integration. It was described as a hard but necessary road that the post-soviet Russia and other nations in the post-soviet space are expected to pass in the historically shortest time.

The present and the future of these nations, which, at least, share the common past, depend on how efficiently the member-states will be able to pass this road in the current geopolitical situation. We think that the political and ethnic subjects of the post-soviet space could really benefit from taking into consideration the expert views shared at the round table. In other words, it could help find the way from the trap of the system disintegration and the risks of dividing the space by more powerful and successful geopolitical players.

As was shown through the round tables sharp polemics and heated debate, the biggest interest and arguments are raised by the problem of historical and futurological interpretation of the Empire phenomenon covering the past and likely future of Russia itself as well as the entire post-soviet /post-imperial space formed on the ruins of the Russian/Soviet empire.

The authors of this article who were both organizers and participants of the round table offered their own analysis of the problem.

While studying system crises in Russian history within the framework of the project titled The People and Power: The History of Russia and Its Falsifications we arrived at the conclusion that the deep insight into their logic and meaning is impossible without analyzing the Empire as a special form of system organization of power and society, the organization of mass consciousness, rather than the space [3].

In this sense an Empire can be a successful subject in history insomuch as it is able to spread around imperatives uniting people and space, these imperatives being capable of empowering them with historical meaning and objectives.

In other words, whether the Empire can serve as an organizer of a large-scale space in the most effective and reasonable way depends on how fully and adequately it can manifest itself in the mass consciousness as an earthly stronghold of the Imperative. It also depends on how attractive and appealing the nations involved find the ideas and values offered by the Empire. In the hierarchy of various factors bringing a lot of nations and their huge areas toward real integration the top place belongs to specific goal-oriented imperatives, but not to politics and economics. Such imperatives should provide the individual as well as the entire nation and state with the sense of meaningfulness of individual and social life. It is only then that the Empire becomes a centripetal force arranging the space and consciousness to be included in the context of global history.

The Russian Empire had such imperatives until its disintegration in the course of the Smuta (turmoil) in the early XX century. It made the Empire successful as a harmonizer of the Eurasian space over at least several centuries. The Soviet Union as an imperial successor also had such imperatives until its disintegration during the Smuta of the late XX century. This was the cause of its unprecedented victories and achievements over several decades in the last century, the cruel age which ground down many empires and nations. Both the Russian Empire and the soviet space were centripetal forces driving nations into one common historical destiny with mutual historical values.

Alas, the same cannot be said about the post-soviet space. The problem is not the lack of single economic space, single currency, etc. The problem is that Russia as a traditional imperial core of Eurasian integration has, so far, failed to offer such imperatives that will make it attractive for the neighbouring states to unite with it, for the sake of something bigger than temporary political and economic dividends.

This also holds a major threat for the post-imperial Russia itself and for the less powerful states of post-imperial space. One should leave alone the negative connotations of the word Empire and focus on searching for its historical meaning. And then the Empire can be understood as an extensive space united by historically specific imperatives. Then largely it is an either or situation: either the state which has to organize its imperially large space has these imperatives and lives by them thus being a real subject of history or it lacks these imperatives, but then this (imperativeless) space is claimed by other empires with imperatives and then gets divided among them.

It should be emphasized in conclusion that a new post-soviet empire should not be constructed by means of forced integration. The Empire can only be revived on condition there is an Idea that can unite and lead the masses. To become an empire again, contemporary Russia has to offer imperatives which will restore the general sense and common values. The imperial power for Russia today does not mean a power that is eager to expand. It is rather a power to constrain the evil. Our talk about the revival of the Empire is not an appeal for violence, but it aims at the restored meaning, the meaning of the natural reintegration of post-soviet space as historical successor of the great empire.

Translated by O. Sudakova

(Articles from Scientific Journals)

1. Revin I.A. Krestyanskaya Rossiya i Vtoraya russkaya smuta: nauchnyy proekt Narod i vlast v otechestvennoy istoriografii revolyutsionnykh krizisov. Novyy istoricheskiy vestnik , 2013, no. 2(36), pp. 5657.

2. Marchenya P.P., Razin S.Yu. Mezhdunarodnyy kruglyy stol Rossiya i postsovetskoe prostranstvo: problemy i perspektivy. Novyy istoricheskiy vestnik , 2013, no. 3(37), pp. 98147.

3. Marchenya P.P., Razin S.Yu. Imperiya i Smuta v sovremennom rossievedenii. Novyy istoricheskiy vestnik , 2011, no. 4(30), pp. 8996.

Authors, Abstract, Key words

 Pavel P. Marchenya Candidate of History, Associate Professor, Moscow University of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia (Moscow, Russia)

Sergey Yu. Razin Senior Lecturer, Institute for the Humanities and Arts and Informational Technologies (Moscow, Russia)

The article summarizes the most significant materials of the International round table held in Moscow in April 2013: the papers by Russian and foreign experts researching the past and the present of the post-Soviet space as well as part of their discussion. The papers feature the interdisciplinary scientific analysis of different aspects of contemporary geopolitical situation in post-Soviet space. The issues discussed by the roundtable participants and the authors of the article are addressed in the context of the Eurasian and world history.

Russian Federation, Post-Soviet space, Post-Soviet states, geopolitics, geoeconomics, integration, Commonwealth of Independent States, Union State of Russia and Belarus, Ukraine, Eurasian Economic Union, Customs Union, empire, nation, political elite

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