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My new book: "New ideology: Golodomor"

New ideology: Golodomor
Yuri Shvetsov, Director, Center for the problems of European integration

Moscow, Europe Publishing House, 2009, pp 184

Yury Shevtsov’s book delves into a complex and dangerous period of history, spanning from 1930’s to our days. From the one side, it deals with a very real widespread famine of the early 1920’s – part of the Stalinist campaign of Dekulakization, which actually amounted to the eradication of peasantry in Soviet Russia. From the other side, the book dispels the myth of Golodomor, allegedly masterminded by the Moscovites with the aim of eliminating the Ukrainians, which was essentially made up by the Nazis. The book describes the famine of the early 1930’s simultaneously analyzing its contemporary ideological interpretations. It can be of interest to students, teachers of history, journalists and all those exploring the contemporary wars, Russophobia, as well as the projects of East-European nationalism and East-West conflicts.

Friday, January 25, 2008
Window on Eurasia: Lawyers Up, ‘Siloviki’ Down in Today’s Moscow, Some Russians Say

Paul Goble

Baku, January 25 – President Vladimir Putin’s decision to name Dmitry Medvedev rather than someone from the security services as his successor has prompted several commentators to argue that at senior levels of the Russian government, lawyers are increasingly eclipsing the ‘siloviki,’ however great a role the latter still play.
In an article in the current issue of the Internet journal, “Arguments of the Week,” Andrei Uglanov points out that Putin, who has a foot in both camps – he received a legal education but worked in the KGB – has now tilted toward the lawyers by choosing Medvedev, a lawyer without a background in the security services.
The president-designate has a large circle of friends and supporters in Moscow’s legal community, Uglanov says, and consequently, as he assembles his own team in the Kremlin over the coming months, it is likely that he will draw on them rather than on those in the security organs (http://www.argumenti.ru/publications/5829).
The commentator says there is another reason for thinking that this trend will continue. He suggests that one reason Putin pushed so hard to have the Constitutional Court moved to his own city of St. Petersburg is that at some point, he would like to serve as its head.
Were that in fact to happen – and Uglanov offers no evidence that Putin has that in mind or that such a step would not mean the capture of that institution by the “siloviki” around him – then, he says, “the role of lawyers and law would increase by an order of magnitude” in Russia.
If Uglanov sees lawyers as a rising political force in Russia, Yuri Shevtsov, in an article posted on another website, argues that the “siloviki” as a group are a rapidly declining one. Indeed, he provocatively titles his essay, “The Twilight of the Siloviki” (http://www.preemniki.ru/publications/162).
According to Shevtsov, “one of the main political processes which is now taking place in Russia in the shadow of the ongoing electoral campaigns is a change of the place of the special services and those who have emerged from them in the real political structure” of the country.
Like Uglanov, Shevtsov points to the coming change at the very top as evidence, but he also argues that the continuing conflict between the FSB and the counter-narcotics police is “an indicator of the weakening of the position of the siloviki community and of complicated processes within it.”
One reason that those from the security services were able to gather so much poer in their hands since the 1990s is that they had been much less affected by what Shevtsov views as the corrosive effects on all other groups of the changes that took place in Russia after the collapse of the communist system.
Unlike almost everyone else, the “siloviki” remained more committed to the traditional tasks of their organizations than to any new ideology. And consequently, when things deteriorated to the point they were at by the end of the last decade, the “siloviki” were the only force capable of stepping in and restoring order.
That pattern, of chaos opening the way to a greater role for the security services, happened in other post-communist countries, including Shevtsov says, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and in a way Ukraine. And consequently, the decline in the role of the siloviki in these countries may be an indication of how things will ultimately go in Russia.
As parliamentary parties have become more important, as elites rotate more quickly because of elections, and as the political skills each of these requires shifts, the “siloviki” are finding themselves in trouble: they are still needed to control society but they are not able to defend themselves corporately against other political groups.
Russia has not moved as far in that direction as the others, Shevtsov continues, but if it does in the future then “the failure of Putin to appoint Ivanov, the Cherkesov-Patrushev conflict, the Duma with its parties, and ‘the departure’ of Putin from the presidency [point] to a weakening of the political importance of the ‘siloviki’ in Russia.”
While Shevtsov clearly believes that this is the most likely outcome, he concedes that it is extremely difficult to know exactly what the ‘siloviki’ may be doing behind the scenes. And he acknowledges that the current problems of this group may only be part of a generational change or a shift in the relative power positions of their various subgroups.
But before people in Russia or abroad celebrate the rise of the lawyers at the expense of the ‘siloviki,’ they should pay attention to another commentary this week which suggests that most Russian lawyers and nearly all Russian judges are very little changed from what they were like in Soviet times.
In an article that he says was written “with a heavy heart,” attorney Vladimir Pastukhov says that because there have been so few changes in this sphere, he has few expectations that his clients or others who land in the clutches of Russian courts will be able to get anything approaching justice (http://www.argumenti.ru/publications/5843).
The Russian judicial system, he says, “continues to remain Soviet in its nature. There have been only cosmetic changes, [but] its foundations have not been touched.” And unfortunately, some of the changes that have occurred have in fact made the situation a great deal worse.
“The basic problems of the Russian judicial system,” he continues, “are not its ‘corrupt’ nature or its ‘dependence on the powers that be.’ Instead, it is the increasing influence of businesses on judicial outcomes, “legal nihilism,” and “a sharp lowering of the professional level of the preparation of judges.”
The clearest indication of this, Pastukhov says, is the written decisions that judges issue. Unlike in Western courts where these take an enormous amount of time to prepare and are often extremely detailed, in Russian courts, these are hastily written, often only a few pages long, and consist of formulaic expressions with little meaning.
This situation, the Moscow lawyer continues, “opens a wide door for judicial arbitrariness,” reduces the importance of any decision as precedent, and thus makes the continuing corruption of the system, not so much from the state as in Soviet times but more business interests, all the more likely.
Another writer sums up these problems more succinctly. In Yezhdnevniy zhurnal on Monday, Aleksandr Podrabinek notes that in Russia, Justice is not blind and thus impartial. Only there does the goddess stand with her eyes wide open to what is happening beyond the courtroom walls (http://www.ej.ru/?a=note&id=7731).


My speech on conference in Schengen

My speech on conference in Schengen

Juri Shevtsov
Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies and ISE-Center, Moscow
Conference on “Homo Europaeus - East and West”
12 and 13 May 2006, Castle of Schengen, Luxembourg

Post-Soviet identity as a basis of a new big power in Eastern Europe and a new epoch of European integration: humanism and/or liberalism.

Values are how a society or an individual conceive of the meaning of life. Values only pertain to those societies that exist, that are alive. Only those values are viable that a society can defend and uphold. Values are appropriate when they contribute to society’s growth and development. Inappropriate values can destroy a society from within bringing about its collapse.

It was exactly twenty years ago that the April Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has announced the beginning of the Perestroika policy. Initiated by the Communists themselves this policy has resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block, it has made possible the creation of the European Union, the expansion of NATO and a world of a single dominant superpower. Only a few years ago did the collapse of the post-Soviet social structures stop. What kind of values paid their way during these twenty years? What values may turn out to be sure-footed in Eastern Europe or even wider – in Eurasia in the times of stability that we are living here now?

The ideas of radical market reforms and shock therapy have not been rewarding. Economic growth and political stability are only found in those post-Soviet countries that abandoned radical reforms in favour of a strong government developmental control. Radical liberal values do not guarantee steady growth. It is true that the prescribed adherence to liberal values opened the doors of integration into EU for some of the East European countries. But it can be clearly seen that in many cases the liberalism of the new EU memebers is just a trick that alows local nationalism to obtain tangible benefits by mimicring the ideology of the Big Brother, which in fact is merely a «loyalty formula» between a vassal and his new overlord. This is precisely why the liberalism of the new EU members that lived through «orange revolutions» is always accompanied by russophobia, xenophobia and clannishness, which is reminiscent of the feudal structure of social relations. East European countries are often adopting an attitude that is not quite European and this fact can only be explained by their superficial adherence to liberal values, something that was illustrated especially clearly when they supported the invasion of Iraq.

Freedom domain has not come to include the ex-Soviet republics of Central Asia or Caucasus. More importantly, in comparison with the Soviet era these regions have been thrown back almost into feudalism and it was only with an external intervention that a radical Islamic revolution in Central Asia or Caucasus has been prevented.

We have to admit that radical liberal values are not the values that are capable of providing for a dynamic development of the post-Soviet countries or even for the mere survival of these societies and states.

However, initially the Perestroika was not aiming at radical liberal reforms. One of the principal impetuses for reforming the Communist Block – perhaps its main impetus – has been the aspiration to eliminate the global nuclear standoff and the threat of nuclear war that would bring the end of humankind. Gorbachev's “New Thinking” first and foremost is thinking in terms of life values, historical survival of Humanity, human cooperation for the sake overcoming ecological threats and sustained cooperative development. The Soviet Union’s transition towards reforms was that same kind of moral choice based on the humanistic component of the Communist ideology as was the USSR’s unconditioned resistance to Nazism during the WWII. The radical reforms that came after that constituted a deviation from the moral and considered Soviet choice of 1986.

Today’s stabilization of Russia and the main post-Soviet countries on the basis of disaffirmation of radical liberalism is not a triumph of nationalistic ideas. Rather, it is the return of the “Euro-East” in the wake of a liberal zigzag back to that rational humanistic system of values that was heralded by Perestroika. “Euro-East” or even its component countries can not be stabilized on the basis of classical European nationalism. The idea of national pre-eminence is a superficial one with regard to the post-Soviet countries. That which is often understood to constitute nationalism is rather an ideology of cooperative social interaction between different post-Soviet countries that manifest similar humanistic orientation regardless of their nationality. This ideology is actually opposing nationalism for it does not imply any pre-eminence of this or other nation within a given country.

The actualization of the struggle against fascism in Russia or the struggle against nationalism in Belarus is a perfectly earnest internal discourse. It can be compared to the struggle between the secular society and the Islamic fundamentalism in the countries of Central Asia. It is humanism but not nationalism that has the vitality and the will to win in the “Euro-East”. Nationalism is regarded here as an ideology that carries a seed of Nazism within and is thus amoral in comparison with all other systems of values. One of the reasons behind the russophobia of the East-European countries that entered the EU has to do with the fact that hidden beneath liberal verbalism there is an opposition of the local nationalism to the humanist values proper. It is not a struggle against the Russian nationalism or the irremeable Communism.

The striving to whitewash the WWII collaborationists amongst them is intrinsic to all East-European nationalist varieties. We should not allow ourselves to become mislead by the use of anti-Soviet and democratic rhetoric. What we observe in many East-European countries is a reanimation of the nationalism proper and even the neo-Nazism, which is essentially directed not against Russian nationalism but against humanistic nature of the values that are beginning to predominate in the post-Soviet countries after their stabilization.

The humanistic values of the “Euro-East” are the result of an effort on the part of local communities to find sense in the realities of a hi-tech world. Thus, nationalism as an ideology of national pre-eminence can not solve the problem of Chernobyl victims in Ukraine and Belarus. Nationalism is concerned with the revival of the national language or the russophobic system of historical myths and regards such tasks to be more important than the task of helping people who are still suffering from the consequences of the radioactive pollution. The problem of the victims of Chernobyl is all the more so unsolvable from the position of racial thinking, which is found within any local nationalism. East-European nationalism is absolutely unsuitable for the task of putting forward major global technical projects, because it is primarily concerned with opposition to some other nations and peoples and is aimed at quick aggression.

The growth of prices on hydrocarbon material that contributed to the stabilization of the “Euro-East” has placed enormous resources in the hands of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Nationalistic values can only forbid these countries from converting such enormous resources into global technological projects that can firmly put them back on the course of hi-tech development. Should nationalism win in the “Euro-East”, it would put nuclear arms into the hands of a very archaic system of values and would thus bring about a total collapse of the global security arrangements. Taking into consideration the fact that the Eastern Europe in opposition to Russia is often propagating not merely nationalism but its racial variety – the neo-Nazism – such nationalistic transformation of the “Euro-East” is inevitably going to bring to surface the racist rather than any other version of nationalism. Hence the importance of the confrontation between the “Euro-East” with its humanistic values and the nationalism, especially the neo-Nazism. The pressing topicality of this process for the Eastern Europe can not be overestimated.

The stabilization of the “Euro-East” on the basis of humanistic rather than liberal values is presenting a new opportunity for the European integration as a technological project. Today “Euro-East” is closely tied to the European Union economically and is sharing with the EU a common system of regional security. The economic stability of the Russian Federation depends on the export of hydrocarbons to the EU. This export is vital for the EU as well as it is to Ukraine and Belarus. The combined efforts of NATO and the Russian Federation are preventing an Islamic revolution in Central Asia and are rebuffing a terrorist threat coming from some Islamic regions.

The task of precluding the hidden nationalistic “balkanization” on the “Euro-East” demands the creation of a common technological pyramid that would be acceptable for both parts of the enormous cultural region that stretches from Dublin to Vladivostok. That pyramid which existed in the USSR has emerged as a consequence of the Communist values having been developed in conflict with the external world. The scientific and technological pyramid that was built in the USSR has in certain sense been the embodiment of those values that called for exploration of Siberia, the Far East, the steppes of Kazakhstan and the Black Sea environs. The enormous territory of the “Euro-East” will continue to demand especial attention to the development of land-based communications and new forms of land reclamation. It will present opportunities and necessitate the development of new sources of energy. It will demand and present opportunities for the existence of a strong hierarchical state with all the benefits and shortcomings of such an arrangement and a strong state ideology before anything else.

The ideology of individualistic radical liberalism has been seriously compromised in the “Euro-East”. The simplistic attempt to incorporate the rich and stabilized “Euro-East” into the EU structures of the ‘90s would result in its degradation and would transform it into a weak albeit resources-rich attachment of Europe. Such a decaying geopolitical space would fall pray to a wide array of globally dangerous political ideologies ranging from Islamism to racism. Today this is not possible.

The level of scientific and technical development in both parts of Europe and other developed countries is so high nowadays that the reanimation of Nazi ideologies can take place very quickly. Many a science has developed its own set of tools for meddling in the semantic nature of Man. Beefing up social inequity with biological one can become a real political program for the neo-Nazi forces. This is particularly visible in the case of Chernobyl victims: millions of people are living in territories contaminated with radioactive nuclides and are fully dependent in their healthcare on substantial external help. In case the paternalistic support of these people is decreased a massive number of them will acquire a semantic nature that is markedly inferior in characteristics comparing to healthy people.

The development of genetics and biotechnologies spells an increase in the number of tools for conscious semantic modification of the nature of various social groups. Further technological thrust dictates that antiracism as a system of values gain an even higher priority. The historic tradition of post-Soviet nations embodies anti-Nazism. This tradition can be interpreted in anew in relevant contemporary ways. The humanistic and anti-Nazi orientation of the “Euro-East” can become one of the foundations for the European stability in the face of all kinds of racial theories and patterns of colonial thought.

The ideology of life, of survival in a situation of conscious ambiguity of ideological concepts that nevertheless do share a common humanistic vector is a sufficient apparatus for the “Euro-East” to sustain itself in the foreseeable future. Perhaps, the ideology of life and humanism would in many of its aspects be appropriate for a deeper cooperation between Russia, the countries that are similar to it and the European Union.

It is possible to give back to the European Man the ability and the desire to dream of great projects that can be tangibly significant for his country, for Europe, for the Humanity and therefore be moral. It is possible to give back to Man the genuine complicity in the realization of projects that are vast and required by the society.

Contemporary Europe, divest of Christianity, is promoting the rise of nationalism that challenges not only the “Euro-East”. It is a hidden infection that threatens to blow up the European integration. In dechristianized Europe nationalism is not counterbalanced with steady and universal system of values. The kind of liberalism on which the EU is founded is having hard time answering the challenge of Islam and the East European nationalism. However controversial they might have been, the US policies have helped Europe to withstand those challenges that it could have hardly coped with on its own. The “Euro-East” – which regards anti-Nazism as a fundamental value – is Europe’s well-balanced ally in the struggle with these formidable threats.

The reciprocal scientific and technologic pyramid of the EU and the “Euro-East” could possibly incorporate the well-advanced branches of bio-technology, space exploration, new types of energy sources and new modes of transportation research; contributing to the development of the vast lands and – by extension – the Cosmos; enhancing the evolution of society as a whole and not only some of its social categories. At the same time, the “Euro-East” can hardly provide many ideas in the field of information technologies with focus on satisfying the needs of a self-contained individual

Approaching humanitarian values the “Euro-East” is gaining stability. A new epoch is in the making not only for Russia and other ex-USSR states but also for the united Europe. A split between the humanistic “Euro-East” and the liberal Europe – in need of deep ideological transformations – is unlikely to be productive. Both parts of Europe are unlikely to abandon a man who – apart from his individual values – has conceived a dream to share with his society, a dream worth struggling for.

If the veiled nationalistic forces – particularly in Eastern Europe – succeed in drawing Europe into a new cold war against the countries consolidated around Moscow it will raise the threat of the reanimation of Nazism in new forms, will weaken Europe from within, diminish its capacity to respond to the complex challenges it is already facing and spread the area of instability onto some very sensitive planes that affect the whole World. At the same time, paying due attention to the humanistic component of the values pertaining to major post-Soviet countries could possibly enrich both Eastern and Western parts of Europe with balanced ideology and an advanced system of some fully tangible projects.

Humanism, anti-Nazism, an expanded genuinely European technological pyramid in the interests of the entire Humanity, a Man whose values include projects of scale and benefit to his society, these noble aims seem to be an attainable reality that does not require any further expansion of the EU or NATO. All it needs is a bit of tolerance and rationality on both sides.


read more at Guralyuk.org

11-14.05 was in Schengen on Conference "Homo Europaeus - East and West"

It was interesting


Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
and ISE-Center, Moscow


Homo Europaeus - East and West

12 and 13 May 2006
Castle of Schengen, Luxembourg


Friday, 12 May 2006

I. The Individual and the Community
09.00 – 10.30 Session 1: Factors of identity - values, culture, religion
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee break
11.00 – 12.30 Session 2: Structures and practices - family, education, workplace, consumption models, lifestyles
12.30 – 14.30 Lunch at the Castle of Schengen

II. The State and the Market
14.30 – 16.00 Session 3: Conflict or convergence? - competing and overlapping interests
16.00 – 16.30 Coffee break
16.30 – 18.00 Session 4: Foundations, institutions and actors - nation, ethnicity, separation of power, parties, movements, corporations
20.00 Dinner at the Restaurant du Château Mensberg, Manderen (F)

Saturday, 13 May 2006

III. Civil Society
09.00 – 10.30 Session 5: Consensus or dissent? - autonomy and dependence
vis-à-vis the state and the market
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee break
11.00 – 12.30 Session 6: Potential and limits of mobilisation - grass-roots movements, NGOs, cooperatives, associations
12.30 – 14.30 Lunch at the Castle of Schengen

IV. Models for the Future
14.30 – 16.00 Session 7: European identity - dissolution, fragmentation or consolidation?
16.00 – 16.30 Coffee break
16.30 – 18.00 Session 8: Future possibilities - shared practices and institutions, common societal models or a trans-European polity?
20.00 Dinner at the Restaurant La Vieille Porte, Sierck-les-Bains (F)

Some of participants:

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
and ISE-Center, Moscow

Homo Europaeus - East and West

12 and 13 May 2006
Castle of Schengen, Luxembourg

Preliminary list of participants
(8 May 2006)

Allegrezza, Serge, Director General, Statec, Ministry of Economics, Luxembourg; Chairman of the Executive Committee, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
Almond, Mark, Lecturer in Modern History, Oriel College, University of Oxford
Ambrosi, Gerhard Michael, Professor, Jean Monnet Center of Excellence for European Studies, University of Trier
Amin, Samir, President, World Forum for Alternatives; Director, Third World Forum, Dakar
Andoura, Sami, Research Fellow, European Affairs Program, Royal Institute for International Relations, Brussels
Avram, Andrei, DAAD Scholar, University of Berlin
Barsony, Andras, Political State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Budapest
Blinov, Anatoly, Representative for Luxembourg, Russian Center for Cultural Cooperation at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg
Blond, Phillip, Lecturer in Christian Theology and Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religion, St Martin's College, Lancaster, England
Bryushinkin, Vladimir, Professor, Baltic Center for Advanced Studies and Education, Russian State Immanuel Kant University, Kaliningrad
Carapelli, Luca, Student, University of Siena
Chadayev, Aleksei, Member of the Public Chamber of Russia, Editor of Net-Russian Journal, Foundation for Effective Policy, Moscow
Chechel, Irina, Senior Lecturer in Soviet History, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow
Clesse, Armand, Director, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
Coker, Christopher, Professor of International Relations, Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science
Colling, François, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
Darie, Irina, Counsellor for European Integration, Ministry of European Integration, Bucharest
Elbe, Stefan, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Sussex
Fetscher, Iring, Professor (Emerit.), Chair of Political Sciences, University of Frankfurt/M.
Glazychev, Viacheslav, Professor, Director of the Foundation for Effective Policy's Public House "Europe", Moscow
van Gunsteren, Herman, Professor of Political Theory and Legal Philosophy, Leiden University
Kachia, Koba, Chairman of the Board, Democratic Initiative, Tbilisi
Katin, Vladimir, independent journalist, Luxembourg
Kortunov, Andrey, President, ISE-Center, Moscow
Laktionova, Irina, Executive Director, ISE-Center, Moscow
Lesage, Michel, Professor (Emerit.), University of Paris I; Consultative Expert of the Council of Europe, Paris
Malayan, Edouard, Ambassador of Russia to Luxembourg
Mertz, Paul, former Ambassador; Member of the Supervisory Board, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
Orlova, Galina, Rostov Center for Advanced Studies and Education, Rostov-on-Don
Pabst, Adrian, Research Fellow, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
Pfaff, William, Columnist, International Herald Tribune, Paris
Piatigorsky, Alexander, Professor (Emerit.), University of London
Rakajeva, Aida, PhD Student, University of Trier
Rubinsky, Youri, Head of Research Centre, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
Rühl, Lothar, Professor, Research Institute for Political Science and European Affairs, University of Cologne; former State Secretary of Defence, Germany
Rykun, Artem, Tomsk Center for Advanced Studies and Education, Tomsk
Sander, Michael, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Brussels
Sarbu, Bianca, DAAD Scholar, University of Trier
Schöpflin, György, Hungarian Member of the European Parliament; former Jean Monnet Professor of Politics, University College London
Schulze, Peter, Professor, International Relations and Comparative Government, Seminar of Political Sciences, Georg August University, Göttingen
Serebryanyy, Sergei, Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow
Shevtsov, Yury, Director of the Center of European Integration Problems, Minsk
Skachko, Sergey, Head of the Department for Western Europe, Russian Center for Cultural Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moscow
Stefankine, Vyacheslav, Senior Counsellor, Embassy of Russia, Luxembourg
Steinbach, Colin, PhD Student in International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science
Steinherr, Alfred, Head of the Department of Macro Analysis and Forecasting, German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin; Chief Economist, EIB, Luxembourg
Suprun, Vladimir, Professor, Institute of Philosophy and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk
Trakhtenberg, Anna, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy and Law, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Yekaterinburg
Weber, Raymond, Director, Lux-Development, Luxembourg; Member of the Supervisory Board, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies
Zazvonov, Vitali, Vice-President, Pushkin Cultural Center, Luxembourg
Ziemer, Klaus, Professor of Political Science; Director, German Historical Institute, Warsaw
Zourabichvili, Salome, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Tbilisi
Zvereva, Galina, Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow



read more at Guralyuk.org

A'm studied in Radford University :)

A'm studied in Radford University :)

Culture Wars, Soul-Searching,
and Belarusian Identity

“The West has eventually recognized its helplessness vis-à-vis the Minsk riddle.”
– Belorussky Rynok 2001

Multiple and conflicting national ideas delay nation-building

Tuteishiya by Janka Kupala
Diverging trends of language and identity
External impulses of national consolidation
What is prior, nation or nationalism?
Three national projects on Belarus and their core constituencies
Prospects for nation-building


15 characters, including 14 local Slavs, 3 of whom are self-described Belarusians
Janka Zdolnik: “They are all tuteishiya but either renegades or degenerates”
Mikita Znosak’s mimicry
Eastern Scientist and Western Scientist

Janka Kupala National Theater

Presidential Administration


Belarusian on stage, Russian in the audience
Random sample of 200 Minsk adults: 1.5% use mainly Belarusian at home
Minsk as home to 25% of all Belarusian speakers
Two groups of Belarusian speakers: rural (receding) and urban (on the rise but still small)

Language and Identity

61% of respondents: ability to speak Belarusian not an important uniting factor; 27% . . . : rather important; 8.5% . . . : very important
71% of respondents: Belarus should remain independent; 12% . . . : Belarus should join Russia
Language and identity live separate lives and evolve in opposite directions

Devotion to Statehood?

November 2003 IISEPS’ national survey: What is more important to you, economic improvement or national independence?
The overall result: 62% vs. 25%; among self-proclaimed supporters of the opposition: 51% vs. 36%

External Impulse of
National Consolidation

Putin: Why not absorb Belarusian regions one by one?
Yaroshuk: Many Belarusians wouldn’t mind
Wake-up call for Lukashenka
19 February 2004: “Act of terror” against Belarusians
Lukashenka as a Belarusian nationalist?

What is Prior, Nation or Nationalism?

Marxist approach: Being determines consciousness, so nation is prior
Modern Western luminaries: “Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness; it invents nations where they do not exist” (Ernest Gellner)

Belarusians-do-exist refrain
Yury Shautsou: “Belarusian identity is there to comprehend, not to manifest”
If nationalism creates nations, then efforts at proving Belarusians’ existence are redundant. One’s got to just focus on the consolidating national idea. But is there such a thing?

Priority Question and Its

Relevance to Belarus

Belarusians are descendants of the Great Duchy of Lithuania and Rzeczpospolita, which waged numerous wars with despotic Russia

Belarusians are inseparable from Russians, and their greatest shared experience was the Great Patriotic War of 1941 – 1945

A split identity disorder?

Could There Be Three
National Projects?

Even two projects are one too many
A lead from Ihar Babkou, the author of “The Genealogy of Belarusian Idea”
Numerous references to Nativist/European, Muscovite Liberal, and Creole projects

Project 1: Nativist/Pro-European

Codified historic narrative (e.g.: Ten Centuries of Belarusian History by Uladzimer Arlou & Genadz’ Saganovich)
Polatsk – Great Duchy – Rzeczpospolita
1772 – 1991: Russia’s colonial domain
Time to undo Russia’s oppressive impact
“I am writing to you in Muscovy” by Arlou
Switching to Belarusian – clear-cut identity – democratization

Project 2: Muscovite

Aversion to radicalism of Pazniak vintage and reevaluation of ties with Russia
Yury Drakakhrust: Belarusian nationalism speaks Russian
Beliefs of the nativist community called into question
Core constituency of the project includes Svetlana Alexiyevich
Sharing some nativist beliefs but not anti-Russian sentiment

Project 2: Muscovite

Commitment to democracy and civic form of national identity
False dichotomy: Belarusian-speaking-pro-independence-pro-Europe v Russian-speaking-pro-Russia-and-anti-West
Russian-speaking-anti-Lukashenka-and-pro-Europe group is here as well
Geneva Convention on culture wars?

Project 1 vs. Project 2:
A Sparring Match

Deutsche Welle’s initiative
Vital Silitsky (08.10.05): D.W.’s decision despicable, amounts to wholesale support for annihilation of Belarusian
Silitsky’s disclaimer: I am not against Russian
Boycott appeal
Lukashenka pleased

Alexander Feduta

If they [nativists] see us as part of the Belarusian context, they would not just bemoan lack of the Nobel Prize for a pro-democracy Belarusian. They would collect all the pieces by Svetlana Aleksiyevich translated into European languages and launch a lobbying campaign. Would they do this, though? No. And if we initiate this, they would say something like “A Nobel for Aleksiyevich is another nail in the coffin for Belarusian.” And there will be another brawl like this one about the Deutsche Welle or worse

Yury Drakakhrust

They [nativists] believed that their Russian-speaking compatriots are beholden to Moscow like Muslims are to Mecca. It turned out that they are also Europeans, and Europe itself does not deny that
A Russian-language national project whose existence [they] doubt, effectively exists. Moreover, in quite a few areas this project is a more serious challenge to influence of Russia [than nativists themselves]

Vadim Kaznacheyev

Remark about a lack of respect for the language of the titular nationality of Belarus does not make sense because the language of the vast majority of this nationality is Russian
You [nativists] publish stern statements. But the very tone of your appeals is a problem. What if you come to power? Will you then resist a temptation to use coercion?

Svetlana Aleksiyevich

Belarusians do not perceive Russian as the language of the occupiers
The people from the ARCHE and Nasha Niva do not represent Belarusian people. They represent their dream about Belarusian people
In my books, I convey in Russian my love to Belarus

Andrei Dyn’ko

Are we going to fight for a democratic Belarus shoulder to shoulder or just side by side?
Whether national discourse in Belarus can be in Russian requires proof. So, go ahead, prove; but this is risky
You are our allies and you are no Moscow stooges; you are part of our world
Every new initiative must be couched in Belarusian; Russian-language projects don’t need help; they will appear on their own

Andrei Dyn’ko (cont)

Let us proceed together, we know where to go
We remain insensitive to Russophiles
They also see themselves as designers of Belarus. Yes, according to their project but Belarus, not West Russia
Our discussions influence the part of social elite loyal to Lukashenka, this third side of the Belarusian triangle

Project 3: Creole

Creole is pre-national consciousness, extrapolation of tuteishasts, i.e., Belarusian variety of localism
Uladzimer Abushenka: For Creoles, things Russian no longer belong in “we,” yet they can’t be assigned to “they;” similar ambiguity typifies their attitude to things Belarusian
Valer Bulgakau: Lukashenka is the president of Creoles

Project 3: “State Ideology of the Republic of Belarus”

Historic attachment to Russia
Role of the Great Patriotic War of 1941 – 1945
Communal ethos
Anti-nationalist sentiment directed squarely against the nativists
Only in this context can one appreciate reference to Lukashenka as “the main anti-Belarusian nationalist of Belarus”(Feduta 2005)

State Ideology under Construction

No codified account of pre-Soviet history
Steering clear of Catholics
Treshchenok about Kalinowski
Anastasiya Slutskaya (2003): Creole movie epic
Slutsk as the USSR light

Lukashenka at Brest State University (09. 04)

Belarus has never ever been part of Western culture and way of life
To the Catholic-and-Protestant . . . civilization, Belarus and Belarusians, who are predominantly Orthodox and for centuries coexisted in the same political setting with Russia and Russians, are alien
I am not afraid of saying this in Western Belarus

Yury Shautsou’s Perspective

Nativist historical myth false
The region was repeatedly ravaged by wars initiated by external powers
Following each war, cultural self-identification of regional political class changed
No cultural form had enough time to crystallize before being replaced by a different form
Only under the Soviets had tuteishiya become Belarusians

Yury Shautsou (cont.)

During the 1940s, Jews and Poles who used to dominate middle and high strata in Belarus vacated their social niches
Lock gates of vertical mobility thrust open for many Belarusians
Consequently, Belarusians had as much of a heyday in post-war Soviet Belarus as did Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians during their 1919-1940 independence

Strengths and Weaknesses: Project 1

Tight-knit community united by devotion to the Belarusian language and to fight with Russia’s cultural colonialism
Valyantsin Akudovich: Our ideology is too rigid, we are insulated from larger society, and our wholesale negativism in regard to Soviet period alienates people

Strengths and Weaknesses: Project 2

All bureaucratic, scientific, technological, economic, and much of inter-personal communication is in Russian, using which presents itself as a cultural norm
Lack of convincing explanation of Belarusians’ differences from Russians
Yury Shautsou yet again: Baltic substratum and homegrown Catholicism

Strengths and Weaknesses: Project 3

Broad social base
Sponsorship by the ruling regime
Post-1996 economic success
Alexiyevich: “Belarus is still a country with patriarchal peasant culture . . .I was asked why our own Havel did not emerge in Belarus. I replied that we had Ales’ Adamovich, but we chose a different man. The point is not that we have no Havels, we do, but that they are not called for by society”

Strengths and Weaknesses: Project 3 (cont.)

Glorification of Belarus’ role in the war and of socio-economic success thereafter
Close ties with Russia, yet not to the point of giving up on statehood
Low appeal to highly skilled and educated Belarusians
Creole nationalism helps sustain Belarusians as a demotic ethnie

Concluding Remarks

Miroslav Hroch’s model: the scholarly phase A, the national agitation phase B, and the national movement phase C
Belarusians are still in phase B?
No single internal group around which to “coalesce”
Each national project is more specific in stressing who Belarusians lean to or away from than in asserting who they are

Concluding Remarks

Yury Drakakhrust: this situation is “blissfully medieval”
Ales Chobat: “No nation which has not resolved its inner problems has a chance for political independence and survival of its culture and distinctiveness”
Shautsou’s assertion that “Belarusian identity is there to comprehend, not to manifest” acquires down-to-earth meaning

Concluding Remarks

Mitigating circumstance: Belarus straddles a cultural divide
Clash of civilizations?
Minsk policeman: “President of Belarus should be from Grodno or Brest, not Vitebsk or Mogilev”

Concluding Remarks

Ihar Babkou: Because Belarus straddles a cultural divide, it can develop only as a consciously trans-cultural society
Ihar Babkou: In this trans-cultural tradition “Adam Mickiewicz is a native alien, and Alexander Lukashenka is an alien native”
Synthesis of national projects under civic nationalism umbrella?
Hope remains


read more at Guralyuk.org
Review of my book

Review of the book United Nation: The Phenomenon of Belarus by Yury Shevtsov,
Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2006,Read more...Collapse )

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November 2008