Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Rare Glimpse of Just How Horrible ‘Dedovshchina’ in Fact Is

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 26 – A film produced by the Turkmenistan military’s training branch and intended to warn against the non-standard behavior in the ranks known across the former Soviet space as dedovshchina has leaked to the media. What is shows is just how horrific such actions can be.

            The 16-minute film shows victims of such activities in such detail that the Alternative News of Turkmenistan agency says that “for ethical reasons and in accordance with the demands of Youtube, [it] cannot publish the video itself,” but only certain pictures and descriptions from the film (

                The narrator of the film points out that Ashgabat declared 2014 to be the year for establishing order and doing away with dedovshchina in the Turkmen armed forces but that, unfortunately, there “continue to occur violations of military discipline” some of which have led to serious traumas, deaths or suicides.

            The news agency lists the names, dates and outcomes of more than a dozen recent incidents of dedovshchina in the Turkmen military, providing pictures in approximately half of them.  It also details cases in which soldiers have inflicted harm on themselves in order to escape from further service.

            In putting out this report, which has been picked up by other news services in Central Asia, the agency says that this film despite the intentions of its compilers “shows the entire world a side of the life of the Turkmenistan army, an army in which as before dedovshchina and irregular actions flourish … and in which it is dangerous for life and health to serve.

New Democratic Congress of Peoples of Russian Federation has Far-Reaching Goals

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 26 – Created to oppose the proposed law making the study of non-Russian languages voluntary, the new Democratic Congress of Peoples of the Russian Federation has a far broader agenda, one that includes “broadening the space of freedom” and promoting federalism, according to political analyst Ruslan Aysin, who participated in its formation. 

            The failure of officials to take the people seriously on key issues, the Tatar expert says, reflects the fact that “representatives of the nomenklatura do not want and cannot hear the voice of reason, the voice of society, the voice of civil society” and appear to have forgotten that “the state’s functions are to satisfy the needs of the population” (

                The Democratic Congress will remind and help them to behave as they should, Aysin suggests.  That is no small challenge. “The elite which has given to itself a monopoly right to act int eh name of the state requires the people to delegate ever more powers to it, but in exchange, it does not want to fulfill that which it must fulfill.”

            To that end, the analyst continues, the new Democratic Congress includes “real people who have the authority and respect in the localities, real people’s deputies in the ream meaning of this term from Sakha, Chukotka, the Middle Volga, the North Caucasus, the center and west of Russia.”

            “The time of simulacra … has passed. Russia carries the adjective ‘Federation,’ that is, unity. And unity is always better than divisions.  However, certain ignorant people are inclined to call unifying processes ‘separatist,’ which has the semantic meaning of ‘to divide.’” For such people, Aysin says, “war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.”

             Those who say they are fighting separatism are in fact promoting “internal separatism” by “segregating languages, dividing the pupils of schools by nationality, and refusing to fulfill constitutional norms and legal demands!” 

            In this situation, he says, “the Congress is forced to take on itself responsibility for the fate of the peoples which it represents for the fate of our common Motherland – as we do not have another one. [And] the need to defend federative principles also stands on the agenda” of the new organization.

            “Russia is fated to be a federalist country.” Efforts to over-centralize in the past led to the collapses of 1917 and 1991.”  Everyone must recognize that “flexibility and the taking account of the interests of all is a precondition of success. By the Constitution, power belongs to the people; taking initiative into our own hands is our direct obligation.”

            “The sleep of reason gives birth to beasts, chimeras and manticores,” Aysin concludes. “Our inaction is our common misfortune.” 

Foreign Intervention Forced Bolsheviks to Make Overly ‘Liberal’ Concessions to Non-Russians, Stalin told Lenin

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 26 – The combination of Moscow’s pressure on the non-Russians and the centenary of the Russian civil war is attracting attention to documents from the past that reveal a great deal about the thinking of Soviet leaders on issues that continue to agitate the leaders and population of the Russian Federation.

            In Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, journalist Mikhail Birin reports that “close to the end of the Civil War, on September 22, 1922, Joseph Stalin sent a letter to Vladimir Lenin declaring that “We have come to a situation when the existing order of relations between the center and the borderlands, i.e., the complete lack of any order and complete chaos, has become intolerable” (

            “Thus, Birin continues, Stalin “demanded an end to ‘games about the independence of the republics … For the four years of the Civil War when we in view of the intervention were forced to demonstrate the liberalism of Moscow on the nationality question, we have raised up communists … who demand real independence in all senses.’”

            Such people, Stalin continued, “’view the interference of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party as deception and hypocrisy on the part of Moscow.’” They must be stopped, and Stalin “insisted on the most rapid possible replacement of formal (fictional) independence by real autonomy.”

            Stalin viewed the proper course as imposing party control over all other institutions of power “both at the center and in the localities – in all oblasts and krays of Soviet Russia and in particular in its young republics,” the Kazan journalist says. He sent his own people there, replacing many quickly who proved unable to impose Moscow’s will.

            It does not require much imagination to extrapolate Stalin’s judgment on the sources of Moscow’s concessionary policy to the non-Russians in the first years of power and on his need to change it once that pressure was reduce to Vladimir Putin’s on the sources of post-Soviet Russia’s handling of the non-Russian republics after 1991 and his approach since 2000.