Sunday, November 19, 2017

Europeans More Inclined to Identify Russians as European than Russians Are, New Poll Finds



Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – A new survey by Germany’s Körber-Stiftung finds that while only 41 percent of Germans and 38 percent of polls do not consider Russia part of Europe, a slightly higher percentage of Russians – 44 percent – say that they do not consider their country part of Europe.

            Moreover, the survey found that Germans and Poles are far more ready to say that a rapprochement of the West and Russia is important or very important – 95 percent and 80 percent respectively – than are Russians. Only 66 percent of Russians made similar declarations (koerber-stiftung.de/pressemeldungen-fotos-journalistenservice/russland-in-europa-kalter-krieg-in-den-koepfen-1187.html and dw.com/ru/опрос-принадлежит-ли-россия-к-европе/a-41323799).

                The Körber Foundation poll also identified some important value differences among the populations of these three countries. According to the survey, 86 percent of Germans, 83 percent of Russians, but only 56 percent of Poles said that showing hostility to foreigners was something now wrong.

            The three also diverged about the role of the mass media and its relationship to the state. The poll found that 76 percent of the Russians said that the task of the media is to support the government and report its decisions to the population. Only 53 percent of the Poles, and 43 percent of the Germans shared that view. 

New US Sanctions to Be Directed at Putin Personally, Piontkovsky Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – The United States is now prepared to impose “sanctions in the harshest possible form,” Andrey Piontkovsky says, thus directly affecting not only the business and political entourage of Vladimir Putin but also -- and in ways that change the nature of the game -- the Kremlin leader himself.             

            On Youtube yesterday, the émigré Russian analyst says it is his impression that the August 2 sanctions law will be carried out “in the harshest possible form” and that “what is the most revolutionary aspect of the law” is that “this will be the first case when the head of the Russian state will turn up on this list” (youtube.com/watch?v=xvbRqX5fYG0&feature=youtu.be).

            The inclusion of Putin on this list is significant, Piontkovsky says, because normally such sanctions are imposed only on “absolutely hardened rogues and criminals like Milosevich, the Sudanese president, someone from Equatorial Guinea and so on.” For Putin to be on this list and for the Americans to put him there is thus a breakthrough. 

            He adds that US President Donald Trump, although he has opposed this measure despite signing it, “will not be able to interfere with the imposition of sanctions. “This is a government law,” and any effort “to sabotage it” will have the most serious consequences for the incumbent of the White House.

            In other comments, Piontkovsky argues that the approximately one trillion US dollars in illegal earnings of Russians now stashed abroad must be returned to “the first post-mafia government of Russia,” something requiring more changes in Russia than just a move to a “post-Putin” one.

            It is a mistake to over-personalize things in the Russian case, he suggests. Putin may leave office but “the essence of this mafia system will not change” as a result by that alone. But seizing the assets of Putin and other Russians held abroad via the new sanctions law will help promote the necessary changes in Russia and bring closer the day these assets can be returned.

‘The Tatar Language Saved Islam in Russia in the Past: Now, Islam Will Return the Favor,’ Mufti Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – “At one point,” Mufti Mansur Dzhalyaletdin says, “the Tatar language saved religion” in Russia; “now, Islam will try to preserve the Tatar language.” And in that effort, he continues, the Tatar language will gain defenders not only among Tatar Muslims but also from Muslims across the former Soviet space and even the world.

            The deputy mufti of the Republic of Tatarstan’s observation about the past reflects the fact that Tatars provided not only the intellectual leadership for Russia’s Muslims but also provided many of the mullahs and imams in mosques in Russia during Soviet times. Indeed, many referred to these places in Moscow and other cities as “Tatar mosques.”

            But his suggestion that Muslims from across Russia, from Central Asia and the Caucasus, and from the Muslim umma abroad are now coming to the aid of the Tatar language, now under assault by Vladimir Putin’s regime, is the subject of an important new article he has written for Kazan’s Business-Gazeta (business-gazeta.ru/article/364294).

            Tatarstan, Dzhalyaletdin says, has largely avoided the ethnic conflicts that have broken out elsewhere because despite hostility from some quarters, its people are tolerant and open to others, including Russians whose language they learn. They believe people should know the language of where they live. But the new attack on the Tatar language threatens to change that.

            On the one hand, he suggests, many Tatars already view the attack on their language as an attack on their nationhood and dignity. And on the other, they are likely to respond by becoming less open to others, possibly even opening private schools for their children to study Tatar if the public schools make this impossible.

            There are currently 1500 Muslim parishes in Tatarstan, the mufti continues, and they are following the order of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) to conduct services in Tatar. That directive is not only enthusiastically supported in Tatarstan, Dzhalyaletdin says, but by Muslim leaders throughout Russia.

            “It is no secret that many people send their children to England the US to study English,” he continues; but it is less well known that Muslims across Russia and indeed from the entire Muslim world are sending their children to Kazan to learn Tatar.  They too are prepared to defend Tatar against Russian attacks.

            To distract attention from its shortcomings and policy failures – such as repairing roads or building hospitals – the mufti says, Moscow has launched an attack on the Tatar language. What it did not understand is that Tatars would see that as an attack on their nationhood and Muslims would see it as an attack on their faith.