Staunton, May 10 – Speaking in Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea, President Vladimir Putin called on all countries “to respect the right of Russians to self-determination,” but he failed to note, Boris Vishnevsky points out, that there is no such right for peoples on the territory of the Russian Federation.
In an Ekho Moskvy blog post today, Vishnevsky, a deputy in the St. Petersburg legislature, points out that Article 4 of the Russian Constitution speaks about guaranteeing the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and that Article 5 specifies that self-determination of its peoples takes place within its borders.
In Soviet times, Vishnevsky continues, union republics had the constitutional right to exit, which in 1991 they used. But “in the Russian Federation, the situation is different in principle: not a single subject of the Russian Federation has the right to leave” and any who advocate that will now be punished severely.
“In other words, the Russian president is calling for respecting a right which does not exist in Russia and is doing so on the territory of Crimea which was annexed by Russia after its ‘act of self-determination’ which Russia warmly supported but which was prohibited by the laws of Ukraine just as such actions are by Russian laws.”
And this hypocritical position, demanding rights for one’s own group that one is not prepared to recognize let alone defend for others, is further deepened by Putin’s denunciations of Ukrainian actions to try to maintain the territorial integrity of that country if one recalls how Putin himself “’respected’ the right to self-determination in Chechnya.”