Russia Can Cross Off the Rest of its Integration Projects

December 9, 2013

It’s very unlikely that Ukraine will immediately become a European country as a result of the second “orange revolution” in its short post-Soviet history. But these events may have a significant impact on the situation in Russia. The Russian authorities’ passion for geopolitical games without thinking about the consequences has led to a situation where the Kremlin itself has become an exporter of revolutions, the suppression of which is the basis for the whole paradigm of our foreign and domestic policy.

If the reference point for the current course of our economic policy was the “Yukos affair” [Yukos Oil Company was liquidated in 2003 when the government said it owed $27 billion in taxes, the fallout from which led to the conviction of dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom Amnesty International says is a prisoner of conscience] — Ed.] then in terms of “political” policies, sorry for the tautology, we live in a reality that was predetermined by the reaction of the Russian authorities to the shift in power in Georgia in 2003, that came totally unexpectedly for the Kremlin, and the unsuccessful and almost forceful attempts to drag Viktor Yanukovych to the presidency in Ukraine in 2004 and 2005. Almost ten years ago, Russia publicly accused the U.S. State Department of organizing a series of so-called “color revolutions” in the “post-Soviet area”, topped off for good measure with a regime change in Kyrgyzstan, one of the poorest countries of the world. After that, the Kremlin made the trope of confronting the “orange threat” the main thrust of its foreign and domestic policies.

Before the recent change of regime in Georgia (that has, by the way, even under allegedly “pro-Russian” leadership, quietly signed the same association agreement with the EU that Ukraine refused to sign), and Viktor Yushchenko’s victory in the presidential election as a result of the first “Ukrainian Maidan,” our government was not exactly friends with the West, but they were fighting world terrorism together. And it was not particularly keen to embrace some anti-Western rhetoric of the kind that we heard in the famous speech of the Russian President at the Munich Security Conference in February 2007.

Then everything changed. The “orange revolutions,” largely imaginary, invented by Russian propaganda (there was little in common between Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan in terms of regime change, and certainly in some of these cases the “hand of Washington” was not a factor) became the starting point of the radical anti-Western policy reversal. In recent years this radicalism has grown exponentially.

But the current, thoroughly “orange” revolution (by Russian classification of the participants) in Ukraine, was provoked by Russia itself. There is no doubt that if Ukraine signed an association agreement with the EU, we wouldn’t see crowds coming out against the document and storming the presidential administration and the government headquarters in Kiev with bulldozers. Just like there is no doubt about the fact that Ukraine did not make the first step towards rapprochement with the EU, precisely because of Russian pressure.

In Russia, the reaction of the opponents of Ukraine’s integration with Europe has been reduced to two peculiar rebuttals. The first, published in the pro-government media, and on social networks, were horror stories, about how terrible life is for citizens of the Baltic countries and for Bulgarians after the EU accession. As if these countries are desperate to once again become socialist barracks of the communist prison camp, with Russia as their warden. The second was the initiative by Alexey Zhuravlev, a deputy representing the United Russia party and the All-Russia People’s Front (ONF) (who is also the leader of the Rodina party,) to grant the Russian language the status of one of the official EU languages. Thanks to us, our hated, Western “sodomites’ democracy,” going under by the name of the EU, is allowing any EU citizens to make their language official, thanks to an amendment in force from the January 1, 2012. All you have to do is to collect one million signatures. “We have organizations like “Rossotrudnichestvo,” and for the Russian community, collecting a million signatures is no problem at all,” said Zhuravlev. The idea being that it’s time to defend Russians living in Europe from the corrupting influence of the West, just like Ukrainians in Ukraine.

By the way, the new “Ukrainian Maidan”, organized by Moscow, together with “Yanukovych & Co.” is not the first such gap in the matrix of Russian ideology. It is simply not the worst, I would say, nor the most outrageous. Another example, of how Russian ideology produces results that are directly opposite to their intentions, is the National Unity Day on November 4. In fact, in trying to dull the significance of the October Revolution, that is the overthrow an incumbent government, as one of the major public holidays, our regime substituted another holiday celebrating another instance of a popular overthrow of the government. Only in the distant and vague past, in 1612. As a result, the authorities ended up organizing a day for neo-nazis.

The consequences of Ukrainian history for Russian politics may be far more dire. In particular, Russia can cross off all of its integration projects in the post-Soviet area. The poor CIS countries will always get loans from Russia with great pleasure, but they will never agree to build a common future together under Russia’s watchful eye. What government would import our revolutions, like Ukraine, or lose parts of their territory because of us, like Georgia?