Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 194

On October 15 in Moscow, officials from the presidential administration and other

Kremlin-connected figures hosted a “Forum on Democracy and Multiculturalism in the

Euro-East.” The participants included representatives of Abkhazia, South Ossetia,

Transnistria, and Karabakh, activists of pro-Russia parties and associations from

several post-Soviet countries, and Moscow figures who — according to Kremlin

consultant Gleb Pavlovsky, speaking at the Forum — “play a major if often shadowy

role in developing Russia’s real policy” (Regnum, October 15).

Outlining geopolitical challenges and opportunities to Russia, Pavlovsky noted that

the United States is focusing its hostile attention on Belarus, “our basic

military-political ally.” In the Balkans, the ongoing separation of Kosovo from

Serbia could serve as a precedent and model for conflict-resolution on Russia’s

terms, Pavlovsky claimed.

The other Kremlin-connected keynote speaker, Sergei Markov, observed, “This is the

only forum where the flags of both Georgia and Abkhazia, both Moldova and

Transnistria are displayed simultaneously. So here we have the chance to develop a

dialogue between unrecognized states and the states from which they have withdrawn”

(Russian Television Channel One, October 15). Markov called for Georgia to become a

federation, the Russian language to become an official language alongside Georgian,

and Georgia’s constitution to empower Russia as the guarantor of the rights of

national minorities (Imedi TV, October 15).

Modest Kolerov, head of the Russian Presidential Administration’s Directorate for

Interregional and External Ties (mainly responsible for liaison with pro-Moscow

groups in Eurasia) clarified the concept of post-Soviet “multiculturalism” as

entailing in practice a privileged official role for the Russian language, as well

as special dispensations for Russia-oriented minorities under Russia’s oversight in

post-Soviet countries. Kolerov assessed such “multiculturalism” as “a task and a

goal that, unfortunately, have yet to be accomplished in the post-Soviet space”; and

predictably castigated Latvia and Estonia for not adhering to such multiculturalism

(RIA-Novosti, October 15).

The prominent commentator Vitaly Tretyakov noted that a CIS that is “nearing its end

as a political organization” cannot serve as a mechanism for pursuing that concept

of multiculturalism in the post-Soviet space. Tretyakov urged the Russian government

to seek international recognition for the Russian people as a “dismembered people”

and reshape its policy accordingly. As part of such a policy, he recommended that

Russia should purchase Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia, or lease the two

territories for 150 to 200 years, based on the fact that the populations in the two

territories are citizens of Russia. Tretyakov is a Kremlin-licensed ultranationalist

with a regular column in the governmental Rossiiskaya gazeta.

Georgia seemed to be the main target of attack at the Forum. The Abkhaz “national

security council secretary” Stanislav Lakoba as well as Konstantin Kochiev,

identified as “state secretary” of South Ossetia, called for recognition of the two

territories’ secession from Georgia with the argument that Russia had already

conferred its citizenship to most residents there. This seemed to confound some

anti-Western activists from Tbilisi attending the Forum. One of these, Malkhaz

Gulashvili of Forward Georgia, argued that the Georgian government must work closely

with Russia to change the latter’s policy and help restore Georgia’s territorial

integrity. The “Samegrelo movement” leader Alexander Chachiya asked Russia to act

decisively as the “center of gravity of Eurasian civilization,” and in that spirit

resolve the frozen conflicts in accordance with Russian interests or alternatively

face the dismemberment of Russia itself.

Georgia’s Labor Party and Justice Party were also represented at the conference. The

“human rights activist” Maia Nikolaishvili announced that she has set up in Georgia

an “Anti-Soros Foundation” to combat the phenomenon of “Soros-ism.” She — that is,

probably, the organizers through her — called for setting up similar “anti-Soros

foundations” in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other countries

where American-sponsored NGOs are active.

Speakers at the Forum criticized the “color revolution countries and Moldova” for

allegedly violating democracy. The sharpest accusations were directed at Georgia and

Moldova for “mass repressions, persecution of political opposition, electoral

frauds,” and “violating the rights of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic minorities.”

Significantly, the accounts of the Forum in Russian media carefully avoided naming

Ukraine as a “color revolution country” or violator of democracy. Although some

speakers may well have criticized Ukraine as well or at least made demands for

“multiculturalism” in that country, the official reports from the Forum did not.

The Forum was the third event of this type (under slightly varying names) since

July, and a fourth event is scheduled for December. The Kremlin seems to be in the

process of institutionalizing a neo-Comintern of hard-core activists promoting

Russia’s geopolitical agenda, largely though not only through the manipulation of

ethnic issues, now fashionably repackaged as “multiculturalism.”

(Regnum, Interfax, RIA-Novosti, Russian Television Channel One, October 15, 16; see

EDM, September 19)