In order to survive, UK and US must always "divide and rule"
Vestnik Kavkaza together with Vesti FM is implementing the project ‘National Question’, trying to figure out how the problems between different nationalities are resolved in different countries and nations by different governments at different times. Today the political scientist, professor at the Higher School of Economics, Oleg Matveychev, and CEO of the Center for Political Information, Alexey Mukhin, visited the hosts of the program, Vladimir Averin and Gia Saralidze.
Saralidze: Today we want to talk about how the national question was used in the ideological fight against the Soviet Union, and also against Russia.
Mukhin: The practice of "divide and rule" is much older than one thousand years. Our Western partners are well aware of the fact that multiethnicity is not only the strength and attraction of the former Soviet Union, now Russia, but it is also a weakness. It is enough to bring a certain discord, and in any nation there will be a social group of people, organized as necessary, which will claim its rights. And after connecting, with the support of this social group through external forces, an international precedent already arises. The crowbar, which is inserted into the gap, is converted into a global wedge that cannot be taken out by another wedge.
Averin: Is it possible to single out some stage, when deliberately, knowingly, consciously, the national question in the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union was used to undermine the forces of the country?
Matveychev: Knowingly, it was formulated by the founders of British geopolitics – Halford Mackinder and Alfred Mahan. They believed that there is a so-called "continental core" that historically coincided with the Russian Empire and then with the Soviet Union, and there are island or maritime states – Britain, the United States – which, in order to survive, have no other means but to divide and rule. Because the demographic, economic and resource forces of the continental core will always be greater than that of the island and maritime states. They can only divide, forcing the continental states, nations, religions and social classes to fight each other. While they are fighting, you can safely sit back on the islands, there will be an excellent investment climate. Island states are helpers in any fight. It was formulated in the 19th century, and then used continuously, including against the Russian Empire. The most extreme versions are repeated. The War in the North Caucasus in the 19th century is similar to what happened here during the 'free committees', there was its own Zakayev, who spoke and gave press conferences to local media, there was the support from England and Turkey for the so-called free Circassians and highlanders. It was the same with the support for the Crimean Tatars, and many others. Even the Old Believers were supported, although they are not a nationality. In the Soviet Union various nationalist movements, including purely Russian nationalist movements, were constantly supported. After all, it does not matter to them which of the nationalists to support and pit against each other. With one hand they help the Caucasian, or Tartar, or Buryat nationalists, and with the other – Russians, by pitting them against each other.
Russian nationalists were the gravediggers of the USSR. The liberal wing – Chubais and everyone associated with him – wanted the Soviet Union to become fully liberal, they did not think about the destruction of the USSR. Their task was to reorient the Soviet Union to the liberal pro-Western line, the market economy. They did not want to destroy it. It is precisely the nationally-oriented elite, writers, who stated that we were feeding Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, that we did not have a Russian Academy of Sciences, only a Soviet one. There was a lot of demagogy. As a result, they angered local elites. Conflicts in Tashkent and in Sumgait were supported by the Western media.
Averin: It is one thing to use any conflicts that already exist, and another thing to create these conflicts. In the 1990s did they just throw wood onto the fire, or were the conflicts created from scratch?
Matveychev: They were also created from scratch. 10 years ago I, a person who was born in Siberia, suddenly saw a website for the Siberian language. There is no such language. I start to read, I see a completely artificial language, created from partially Russian words, partially from dialect. Villages and cities don't speak like that in Siberia. And a programming began using this website. Then I discover that the exact same movements exist among the Cossacks in Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don. They state that the Cossacks are a nation, relying on the statements of Ataman Krasnov, who was hanged for treason, fighting on the side of Hitler. Then I see similar websites, the Pomors have newspapers, which claim that they are also a separate archetypal nation, which has lived there all their lives, and all the others are "the wrong people". Everything is also financed by foreign grants. Similarly, the Ukrainian nation was created once. After all, no one called Ukrainians a nationality before. Siberians in Siberia, Ukrainians in Ukraine, people living on the outskirts of the Russian Empire, on the outskirts of the Russian world.
They spoke about a Ukrainian nationality for the first time at the end of the 19th century. Then historians came along, Hrushevsky wrote some history of Ukraine by simply taking Russian history and exchanging the word "Russian" to the word "Ukrainian", for which he received a faculty chair in Lviv from the Austro-Hungarians, and a beautiful apartment building in Kiev, and a lot of other benefits. The nation was created from scratch.
Saralidze: Can we speak about a deliberate, everyday work by special services aimed at this?
Mukhin: I would pay attention precisely to the German secret services. From the end of the 19th century they were actively developing a Ukrainian territory. During and in preparation for the Second World War this work took on an unimaginable scale. Whole nations were later repressed, precisely because it was necessary to solve this problem. The Third Reich effectively used the work with mass consciousness. Then, these strains were taken by the United States, who evacuated a lot of German experts after the end of World War II. It is no coincidence that the flowering of Nazism in Ukraine took these German forms. The Nazis wear the uniforms of the Wehrmacht, they raise their arms in a typical greeting. Now they are trying to explain it through some deviations, but it's much easier. Work on distortion of consciousness is underway, including national consciousness, which is used very crudely, but it has a long-term effect. It works even 70 years after World War II.
Averin: Russian Nazis have same symbols, the same gestures. So are the same sources working with Russian nationalists?
Matveychev: Russian nationalism is diverse. There is not only German fascism and those who raise their arms. There are all kinds of Old Believers and various sects.
Mukhin: Starting from the 1920s, Russian fascism was the main integral part of Italian Fascism and German Nazism. We need to look at the historical dynamics and deduce the roots.They are on the surface. Germany has been occupied by the United States for a long time. The British and French withdrew their troops from there, we withdrew our troops after the reunification of Germany. Germany is enmeshed in a network of 300 US military bases. All the ideological institutions feel great in the US and have their branches in Germany.
Saralidze: They said in the Soviet Union that the nationalist question had been solved, that there were no problems. We learned about explosions in the Moscow metro organized by Armenian nationalists, or about clashes in the North Caucasus only from "hostile voices." Was this a mistake by the leadership or not?
Mukhin: During the decline of the Soviet Union, I was in the army, I was a sergeant. And we had a huge number of representatives of different peoples. But all the problems, all the misunderstandings, ended in the same place – in the dining hall. At the time, everyone spoke in Russian, and a complete internationalism reigned in the line for butter. When we divided the "feeder" of the Soviet Union, everything fell into place. Because while the feeder-dining hall was united, we ate in the same place, everything was wonderful.
Averin: Can you divide this feeder indefinitely or do we have to stop at some stage?
Matveychev: There are objective indicators of internationalization. For example, the number of mixed marriages, which grew steadily during the USSR. At the time, everyone went to the Caucasus, where there was an all-Union health resort, went to Alma-Ata, Khiva, Samarkand. This does not mean that everyone became the same, there was just friendship between the peoples. Now it is remembered with great warmth and with great nostalgia. But the problems have not been smoothed to the end. The Soviet Union needed 2 or 3 additional generations to completely shut down all the old wounds. But since the Soviet Union collapsed, with the help of our Western partners, these forgotten problems reappeared. When a body gets old, old wounds begin to hurt.
Saralidze: So there were no problems in the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s?
Matveychev: There was a trend for them to disappear, which changed to a trend for them to grow.
Mukhin: Speaking of trends, I want to tell about the story of my family history. We are Russian who lived in Dagestan since the XIX century. In the 1970s people came to us and said, "If you don’t leave this place we will kill you and take your houses." All our huge family sold houses and moved to Kuban.
Averin: Is the rise of the current religious identity associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union, or there is some necessity?
Matveychev: The rise of religious identity is a response to an attempt to erase any identities. They are two sides of the same coin. When the so-called globalization takes place and when everything is unified in this case it tries to find some roots in response and cling to a certain religion and a certain ethnicity. Modern Muslims are not like they were 200 years ago. But a globalization project is partially represented in Russia, and it partly has a very large impact on the Muslims in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, i.e. those Muslims who show the most expressivity and passionarity in Asia Minor. These two projects don’t confront so much Russia. They clashed in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan. These were secular states, but everything changed. This conflict should inevitably come to us if don’t find any kind of formula. In Europe, the clash can be felt in a more acute way. We should look at the lessons of those countries in order not to allow it to happen.
Averin: What is happening with the Muslim identity can be a planned and specifically directed campaign against the Russian, or it is an echo of those global processes that objectively take place?
Mukhin: We can say that historians and political scientists are the most harmful of the people. They pour balm on radicals’ and nationalists’ souls, inventing a story. Another thing when we have a massive conflict zone with the participation of radicals of different kind. They may be Islamists and Buddhists. It seems to me that there are traces of special services’s the activities, as well as structures, which forcibly infect the entire global social groups, and even nations with the virus. This is done with quite utilitarian purposes. Nobody canceled a global competition. States with certain commercial interests in a particular territory, or transnational groups that can afford to pay for such a massive project are customers of campaigns of this kind. Unfortunately, I see such traces of work by the special services of different countries in different parts of the world.
The most interesting thing comes later when the problem is solved and a competitive advantage obtained at a certain stage. Nobody works with this radical population, which is not right upstairs. And they begin to unravel, mutating and turning into a variety of forms. Then again, they are trying to be used in a new form, but they not under control. It is appropriate to recall the situation with al-Qaeda, Daesh, and so on.
Saralidze: A lot was done in the Soviet Union for various nationalities, peoples and small nations. This national matter contributed to the collapse of the USSR. Did any failures admit in Soviet times?
Mukhin: The failure was global. The Soviet elite just lost interest in the project. It became apparent in the late 1980s. They expected that communism will come in 1980, but it didn’t happen and they decided to look for some other project. The West helpfully proposed us a draft of a consumer society.
Matveychev: The national question was of secondary importance, but it detonated at the end of 1980s. Russian nationalists were initiators of Russia’s separation from the Soviet Union. But there were nationalists in all other republics. With regard to the current situation we have to catch those who incite ethnic hatred, regardless of their nationality. Speculations on this theme should be severely repressed in terms of the state.
But there is one important cultural or ideological moment. French philosopher Jean Baudrillard said that there are things that are subject to the logic of consensus (when two disputing parties come to some golden mean), but there are things that are subject to the logic of the disaster (when the parties only move away from each other in a dispute and aggravate their relations). Unfortunately, such national debates are subject to the logic of the disaster. Curiously enough, but the more we speak about it, the more the situation starts deteriorating. Roughly speaking, the third person who listens to us starts thinking: "Who am I? Yakut, Russian, or half-blood? How should I behave in order not to lose my identity? "And the person begins to think not about the Russian patriotism and some scientific achievements, not about some mission that he has, but about national issues, on any infringement of rights.
My recipe is to speak about it less. Not gloss over, but simply to propose the public some other interesting projects to unite the society. When Gagarin flew into space thousands of people came in Yakutia and asked to "sign them as Russian." The Chechens have recently overcome deportation, ran out of their houses, fired guns and said: "We flew into space!". There was general excitement, which smoothed ethnic conflicts. Everybody experienced pride.
Mukhin: Danger also may unite. Our Western partners are trying so that we could unite and we feel like a single nation. The second way is the development of peaceful ways of co-existence such as sports. I go in for sports at a club together with Dagestani fighters. They wear clothes with lettering ‘Russia’ in huge letters on their backs, though they speak in their own language. But they speak in Russian with me. It is the language of communication. Russian brings a variety of nations together. Thus, when I learned a few words in the Avar language and say hello to them, and they genuinely smile. The Language platform is very important. After the Anglo-Saxon world uses English as a way to create platforms in different countries, including India. The Russian language is unifying for the Eurasian area.