The Russian March to Nothingness

Andrei Piontkovsky. Source: Pankisi.infoIn light of this past Friday’s Russian March, noted political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky examines the growing Russian nationalist movement and its origins in the Second Chechen War and ongoing conflicts in the North Caucasus.

The Russian March to Nothingness
By Andrei Piontkovsky
November 3, 2011
Yezhednevny Zhurnal

In a country where the political regime is made up of a longtime diarchy of bandits, Putin and Kadyrov, the popular slogan “Stop Feeding the Caucasus” cannot be seen as something nationalistic or patriotic. Regardless of all its apparent radicalism, it is a deeply ingratiating, slavish, plebeian exhortation.

It means “we want to feed all of our own crooks and thieves: Putin and Abramovich, Sechin and Chemezov, Medvedev and Fridman, Deripaska and Timchenko, the Rotenburg brothers and the Kovalchuk brothers.

It means “we want to return Kadyrov’s criminal offshore accounts here to Putin’s domestic “lawful” arena, even if it requires an third, even bloodier, Chechen war.”

“We want an empire, but without black-assed people” – this is the fatal contradiction of the Russian national consciousness, decisively entangled in its own complexes.

Russians do indeed feel humiliated, offended, and robbed within their own country. As do Russian citizens of other nationalities.

Kadyrov’s palaces, motorcades and parties with Western and Russian superstar-prostitutes of both genders that cost millions in budget money are just as disgusting as the even more extravagant bells and whistles of Mr. Botox. But they have the same attitude towards the “feeding” of the overwhelming majority of North Caucasians as Abramovich’s yachts have towards ocean cruises for participants of the Russian March.

Russian laws definitely don’t operate in Chechnya. But does anybody really still believe that they operate in Russia?

The problem of the North Caucasus is much deeper and more catastrophic than the ratio of the amount of budget transfers to different regions.

What’s going on in the North Caucasus is increasingly surpassing the bounds of a serious regional conflict and is turning into a central existential problem for the Russian Federation. All of the mistakes, failures, and crimes of Russia’s post-communist government in the realms of security, economics, national policy, and federative organization have become entwined in the Caucasus.

Why did we fight two wars in Chechnya? For Russia’s territorial integrity. But territorial integrity does not imply scorched, unpopulated earth. We fought to prove to the Chechens that they are citizens of Russia. But we simultaneously destroyed their towns and villages with planes and salvo rocket systems (and the “Grad” system in open fields, with Putin and Stalingrad behind us) and kidnapped innocent people whose corpses were later found bearing signs of torture.

We have constantly proved to the Chechens the very opposite of what we proclaimed – we proved to them with all of our behavior that they are not citizens of Russia and that we have not considered them to be citizens of Russia for a long time already – but their towns and villages are Russian. And we proved this convincingly not only to the Chechens, but to everyone in the Caucasus. They were good at memorizing the visual lessons we taught them.

And this is the fundamental, tragic absurdity of the war that determined its inevitable result.

We lost the war against the Chechen separatists. One of the most brutal field commanders, Ramzan Kadyrov, won. He has such a degree of independence from the Kremlin that even the Soviet officers Dudayev and Maskhadov would never even dream of.

Having had to choose between the very bad and the monstrous as a result of his pre-election policies, Putin, I have to give him credit, chose the very bad. Admitting his defeat, he gave all the power in Chechnya to Kadyrov and his army and paid him compensation. In response, Kadyrov formally declared not so much loyalty to the Kremlin as his own personal union with Putin. The monstrous choice would have been to continue the war to the point of total destruction – in the spirit of Shamanov and Budanov.

Ms. Latynina, with her poetic nostalgia for the romantic times of the Circassian genocide, clearly sees this choice as a shameful rejection of the white man’s burden and a cowardly capitulation before the liberal-leftist dictatorship of multiculturalism. Oh, how wonderfully those shining Russian aristocrat officers butchered the natives back then, and even wrote in their journals – the Yezhednevny Zhurnals of the time – such intoxicating lines: “I f… and cry!”

War on Chechen separatism in the North Caucasus has been replaced by a different war, one generated by the first – the war on Islamic fundamentalism.

Over that time , Islamic terrorism has crept over the entire North Caucasus, where its number of followers has grown and the structures of its Jamaats have strengthened. And just like during the Chechen wars, we are increasing the number of Islamists with our policies. Take, for example, the rhetoric of our (at least for the time being) supreme commander, who is apparently experiencing a certain syndrome of a lack of brutality compared to Uncle Volodya. The entirety of his reaction to the terrorist attacks on Russian territory consists of uninterrupted calls to “utterly destroy” and punish everyone, even “those who do laundry and cook soup for the terrorists.”

Knowing the moral integrity of the counter-terrorism soldiers from Khanty-Mansiysk, sent off to the Caucasus as if on a temporary work assignment, Mr. Badminton, or at least his groomers, can’t be unaware that the only result of these calls is going to be a marked rise in the number of extrajudicial murders of people who are in no way involved with militants and reprisals against relatives of suspected terrorists. And this, in turn, increases the number suicide bombers and leads to new terrorist attacks on Russian territory.

This is the twelfth year we’ve been fighting this war without understanding the scale of ongoing tragedy – the entire country is sliding into a civil conflict between nationalities – which the government’s policies are entirely responsible for creating, having long burned this wick from both ends.

In the Caucasus, having unleashed and lost the war, the Kremlin is paying compensation in exchange for a sham submissiveness not only to Kadyrov, but to criminal elites in all other republics. This is used to purchase palaces and the golden pistols that dangle off the rumps of local leaders. But the young, unemployed residents who have lost touch with their communities take off to join in Allah’s wars or are squeezed out of the Caucasus onto the streets of Russian cities.

But that is where a generation of children whose parents have utterly and forever lost out because of the failed economic reforms of the past twenty years has already grown up.

Televised cultural rulers and other masterminds have explained to them that all of their problems have been caused by “uncles in pith helmets” and “non-indigenous criminal gangs” who want to break them apart. Gangs of teenagers from working-class backgrounds who have been deprived of their future have a hard time getting to “uncles in pith helmets” or the heavenly residents of Rublevka, and so they unleash their accumulated fury by beating to death “persons of a non-indigenous skin color.”

And today the two armies of desperados, deceived and robbed by, as it were, the exact same people, have been thrown at one another.

Mentally, there is a growing gap between Russian and Caucasian youths, who have grown up in the midst of a brutal war, first Chechen, and then Caucasian in general.

Young Muscovites march around the city with cries of “f… the Caucasus! F…!” and the young mountain youths walk around the streets of Russian cities in a demonstrably defiant and aggressive fashion. They have developed the psychology of the victors. In their minds, Moscow has lost the Caucasian war.

In mind and in spirit, the Caucasus and Russia are vastly separate entities. Although neither the Kremlin nor the North Caucasian “elites” are prepared to make a formal separation.

The Kremlin is still living with its phantom imperial illusions of wide zones of privileged interests that lie far beyond Russia’s borders, and local leaders, starting with Kadyrov, don’t want to turn down the transfers from Russia’s budget.

The Islamists don’t want to separate, either. They have dreams of a caliphate that includes quite a large part of the Russian Federation.

A situation so humiliating for Russia cannot go on forever.

But there is no easy way out. In today’s political system, with this government, there is no way out in general.

An attempt to put an end to Putin’s “Kadyrov project” by force, as is openly advocated by the professional Russian – poor Zhirinovsky – and therefore by default the majority of demagogues in the Russian March, would mean a full-scale third Chechen war that would become a military, political, and moral catastrophe for Russia. Even those who hate Kadyrov and the Chechens who suffer because of him, and moreover his personal army, would never agree to submissively return to the times of the total tyranny of the federations. To make the same mistakes three times in a row would be total lunacy. Even Putin, the most obstinate about the Chechen issue, understands that.

But that wouldn’t stop the “party of blood,” which hasn’t managed to come to terms with the loss of Chechnya as a zone to feed off of and, perhaps more importantly, as a zone to exercise its drunken power over the lives and deaths of any of its inhabitants. The Kadyrov project has stripped many federal siloviki of these two basic pleasures, having made them exclusive to Kadyrov, and they are genuinely hateful because of this.

They say the price of their support is possible allies in the clannish, inter-Kremlin dismantlement – Kadyrov.

The siloviki who have an infernal desire to work again in Chechnya, of course, are mentally closer to Putin and his gang than to anyone else. But they understand perfectly well that Putin will never purge Kadyrov.

Putting an end to the Kadyrov project would be an official admission of Russia’s defeat in the second Chechen war and the proclamation of a third. This would be a return to 1999 from a much worse starting point. It would mean the total political delegitimization of Putin as “the savior of the fatherland in 1999.”

Our best political publicists have equally convincingly and passionately explained to us that our children were burned in Beslan and the hostages suffocated in Nord-Ost for the sake of the greatness of Russia and the triumph of her geopolitical interests. And where now is this greatness or this triumph?

Putin will definitely become one of the first political victims of the third Chechen war. During all twelve years of his rule I have said repeatedly that the Putin regime is not compatible with the life of the country. But God forbid we escape from Putin at such a price. Moreover that it wouldn’t let us escape from Putinism and its roots.

In 1999, the most notorious Kremlin blackguards (their names are well-known) who lead Operation “Heir” entered into an alliance with siloviki who were thirsty for revenge and, after Basayev’s campaign to Dagestan and the apartment bombings in Moscow, Volgodonsk and the failed one in Ryazan, unleashed the second Chechen war in order to bring their own, as they thought at the time, obedient marionette to power. It is they who are they real murderers of Kungayeva, Budanov and the other tens of thousands of people, Chechen and Russian, who fell during their small triumphant war.