The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore.
Consequently, Windows on Eurasia presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the twenty-fifth such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, once again, one could have put out such a listing every day — but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.
3. Moscow Moves from Closing KGB Archives to Destroying Them. In its effort to control the past in order to control the future, the Kremlin has fired archive directors, persecuted authors for articles and books which offer a view of the Soviet past it doesn’t like, and routinely presented an alternative reality unfamiliar to those who have actually studied Russia’s history. Now, the Kremlin has taken the next step to ensure that only its version of history will survive: it has moved from closing archives about the Soviet security police to actually destroying portions of them.
4. Russian Economy Down But Economic Crimes Up. Despite the decline in the Russian economy over the last two years, the number of economic crimes in the country has continued to grow. And the size of bribes appears to be growing as well, especially in Moscow. Bribes in the Russian capital are now 3.5 times those in the provinces.
The Brussels attacks, he says, have prompted the expert community in Brussels and elsewhere in Europe to begin “a profound analysis” of why these attacks happened and what must be done to prevent them in the future without sacrificing the freedoms Europeans have long been accustomed to.
But none of these analyses make any mention of Russia, Mineyev points out, or even statements like those of Zhirinovsky. “For Belgian and French experts and politicians, excluding persons like Marine Le Pen, the terrorist acts in Brussels and earlier in Paris are not the subject of geopolitics of the time of the Holy Alliance but a new internal problem of Europe.”
“Belgium gratefully received a delegation of the FBI from New York,” he notes, “but it did not react to Russian calls to cooperate with its special services. Such cooperation on issues like terrorism requires trust,” and “towards Russia after Crimea, ‘Novorossiya,’ and Litvinenko,” that doesn’t exist and will take many years to restore.
“Russia is not considered either a cause or a factor of the resolution of the problem of terrorism in Europe.” For Belgium and the European Union, the main issue is “not the struggle with ISIS and the role of Russia in the victory over this terrorist organization.” Instead, it is maintaining the balance between the struggle against terrorism and human rights.
Russians and Europeans thus do not see the problem in the same way. “Perhaps,” Mineyev says, “the problem is rooted in the mentality” of the two. “Judging from the Russian media,” he concludes, “out compatriot is ready for ‘Crimea is ours’ to suffer losses of a material and reputational kind.” The Europeans in contrast are not.