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Driving away from CIS

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Igor Botan / May 15, 2006
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The August 2006 CIS summit in Kazani has declared 2006 as “the year of CIS”. The motive is that this structure turns 15 in December 2006. However, the main political events that happened in the past 2–3 years and scheduled for the first half of 2006, with the participation of CIS members, do not predict anything good for this organisation. The recent May 4–5 Vilnius summit with the participation of some CIS members associated in GUAM, the May 22-scheduled GUAM summit in Kiev and the July-set G8 summit in Sankt-Petersburg have the problem of relations between Russia and CIS on agenda either because they are part of GUAM or it envisages the Russia-Belarus Union. These events seem to be part of a political context with major implications for the Successor 2008 Operation.

“Civilised divorce”

A statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said while on a working visit to Armenia in March 2005 that the “European Union was created as an integrating structure, while the CIS, on the contrary, like a structure of civilised divorce of former Soviet republics,” was interpreted as a deliberate announcement of intention to get rid of CIS. President Putin has reiterated the function of CIS to ensure the “civilised divorce” at the Kazani summit after half a year. In this regard, the decision to declare 2006 as “year of CIS” was received as a joke of a special refinement, especially because semi-official political researchers of the Kremlin have explained the affirmation of the Russian president in terms that the “civilised divorce” will start with the “monetisation” of economic relations within CIS. It is true that President Putin called for the maintenance of the “humanitarian dimension of CIS” at the May 8, 2005 informal CIS summit; that means to preserve the role of Russian in the former Soviet area and to keep relations with war veterans.

The Russian authorities kept their word, as the beginning of 2006 as “Year of CIS” has entered in history through Russian TV channels, which demonstrated how first-ranking functionaries of GAZPROM started imposing the “monetisation” of economic relations and the “civilised divorce”. The event had an extraordinary impact, preventing the imminent appearance of other shocking developments resumed at introduction of true economic blockades on relations with Moldova and Georgia, partly with Ukraine. The latter was attracted more visibly in the “humanitarian dimension of CIS” through support of Russian media for actions of regional administrations in the south-east area of the country, where the Russian is being made official language. Even more, propaganda makers from Russian TV channels have reported about “finding” of secret prisons of CIS in Ukraine. It makes no sense to discuss details in this regard because they are well-known.

It is clear from what was said above that the announced “civilised divorce” has become a “driving away” from CIS. However, the contrary is followed in reality. The ostentatious support for the separatism in Moldova and Georgia, but especially the recent orders of President Putin “to stop subsidising the Belarusian economy” (it means to increase the natural gas prices approximately three-fold), if “the most devoted partner of Russia” doe not accept an immediate integration with Russia under the conditions imposed by this country, confirms only the fact that the “civilised divorce” camouflaged like a “driving away” from CIS finally aims at a temporary, not definitive separation from former Soviet republics and an eventual political destabilisation and dramatic worsening of social-economic situation, so that the idea to join Russia seem remedial for “chased” countries. Of course, this would happen after getting rid of leaders of CIS states who “have deteriorated the relations with Russia.” If not so, dignitaries of the Kremlin administration would not be part of guests of the two congresses of Moldovan nationals in Moscow. Indeed, this is an old formula used by Lenin, who said that “we must get apart first in order to come together later,” (для того чтобы обьедениться нужно вначале размежеваться).

It is important in this situation to take into consideration that, as a rule, the strongest and the cleverest carries the main guilt in dangerous conflicts and fights between members of a community. Nobody wonders who is the strongest and the cleverest member of CIS; it is Russia for sure. Perhaps Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has appreciated “the exceptional analytical skills of Vladimir Vladimirovich” in this meaning. Indeed, President Voronin is not very exact in his appreciations — the institution which has educated Vladimir Vladimirovich has “exceptional analytical skills”.

Why “civilised divorce” comes now?

An answer to this question would be that favourable conditions for the operation “Successor 2008” are targeted at the end of the second presidential mandate of Vladimir Putin. Making order in CIS before the transfer of authority to the successor seems to have a major importance in this regard.

Let’s not forget the need to ensure an appropriate function to the one who transmits the “inheritance”. It would be fool to believe that a trust rating of approximately 70 percent may be dissipated in vain after the “transfer of authority” to successor. It is presumed for the time being that the post of president of the Russia-Belarus Union could be appropriate to President Putin. Truly, this would explain the recent economic pressures on Belarus, the most devoted partner of Russia. However, we should not forget the proverbial modesty of Mr. Putin, who may be overwhelmed by charm discretion of Great Deng Xiaoping. The problem is that the role of Great Deng may be played in a well-done system. Another problem is that Great Deng had carefully pushed China to a certain direction, while Putin pushes Russia to another direction. Something was done in this regard but much work is still to be done and little time is left until March 2008. From these reasons, these suppositions are not senseless, no matter how speculative they are.

President Putin hinted that he cannot follow the examples of authoritarian regimes in Central Asia, Belarus and of a Smirnov from a self-proclaimed Transnistria in order to extend the number of presidential mandates by modifying the Constitution. The international media ascertained that this does not sound good for lots of pretensions of Russia, including of G8 member. Thus, it seems that there is no alternative of a “controlled succession” such as “comrade Volk” (Lupul) from Washington to be successor of the “strategic partnership” of comrade Medvedev (Ursul) from Moscow. President Putin has already delivered statements in this regard, confirming the validity of the eventual transfer of authority to a person whom he trusts[1].

However, the problem of “controlled succession” is in deep connection with quality of “inheritance”. President Putin himself is a successor of President Boris Eltsin, successor who seemed at the beginning to be “controllable” by oligarchic circles close to the “family” of President Eltsin, who had identified and promoted him, but could not control him later. Unquestionably the loss of control was due to the inheritance of Eltsin to Putin instead of ensuring immunity. That inheritance was too grave not to raise the revolt of “patriots”, but especially of those with “hot hearts, cold heads and clean hands” — the only persons whose word of officer honour could guarantee the immunity of Eltsin in exchange of the transfer of authority. From these reasons, it is important to understand what “inheritance” President Putin will leave to his successor, so that not to lose the control under an eventual burden of circumstances. In particular, it is important to understand the impact of this “inheritance” on relations and fate of CIS.

Heritage of Putin

It seems that President Putin will leave an impressive inheritance to his successor:

  1. a veritable “vertical of the state power” set up instead of a disobedient regime, which failed however to discourage corruption, but, on the contrary, fuelled it. It was logical to be so in the virtue of its construction, as any vertical of the power generates trafficking in influence and corruption;
  2. a “state corporatist” capitalism set up instead of an oligarchic capitalism, which did not contribute to the rise of the critical share of small- and medium-sized business, as indispensable premise for natural political-economic stability. Putin has acknowledged the technological backwardness of Russia in a recent address to the Russian Federal Assembly, saying that the Russian rouble should turn into a freely convertible coin through creation of a commodity exchange, which would sell Russian products: “gas, petroleum and others”. The charm discretion of Putin did not allow him to give details and say what did he mean when he said “others”, of course, besides weapons and other raw materials;
  3. a specific political-economic stability, based in functioning of a corps of high-ranking public dignitaries who are also administrators of the most important state-owned companies which control huge inflows of billions of dollars. They are part of those with “hot hearts, cold bodies and clean hands” with some exceptions. They loved and served the Homeland in the virtue of “specifics of profession” and oath before presidency of Putin, but they are now motivated to love it much more after being entrusted the control and management of inflows of billions of dollars. Their main feature is that they know technologies to demonstrate their permanent utility, that they cannot be replaced, suggesting through their conduct that their leave would be equal with a catastrophe. They ensure control on xenophobe organisations, on “humanist-progressive” organisations which protest against the first. Thus, those protesting vehemently intervene after assaults on synagogues, killing of people on racial and ethnic reasons. They know how to make the functioning mechanism to be strictly controlled and ensured from propagandistic viewpoint;
  4. a huge propaganda machinery, which has replaced a faulty but pluralist information environment;
  5. a system of political parties of exclusively patriotic orientation, which besides the ruling party Yedinnaya Rossia contains other liked and controlled nationalist parties such as LDPR, Narodnaya Volea (recent substitute of the chauvinistic party Rodina) etc., that eliminated the precedent system of parties, in which communists, liberals and several liberal and social-liberal parties held a competitive share;
  6. a new mythology[2] about “exclusive” right of the Great Russia, which substitutes the historiography. The awarding of the highest state orders to the deputy heads of the State Duma, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Narodnaya Volya leader Sergey Baburin, by President Vladimir Putin for “Merits towards Homeland” and respectively Order of Friendship are some, is an eloquent signals Zhirinovsky, for example, praises himself that Putin implements his political ideas since he came to the power. Logically, Putin has awarded him for this. Sergey Baburin gives public explanations for what kind of “friendship” relations he was awarded, outlining the fact that it is related to Abkhazia and Transnistria in CIS, “where Russia’s interest must be protected.” Thus, the Zhirinovsky-Baburin movements, which had earlier been considered marginal, were recognised and highly appreciated and ennobled by Russian state. These orders will have a mobilising effect on other Russian politicians of the same orientation. As for example, the deputy chairwoman of the committee for foreign policy of the State Duma, Natalia Narocitskaya, a leader of Rodina, says openly that it’s the time “to gather Russian lands” and explains publicly why Stalin is better than Lenin — Stalin had managed to bring the borders of the USSR to the limits of the former Russian empire after the World War II. The embarrassing side of this kind of patriotism is that it generates human victims. Curiously, but last April, right in the period when the 10th Synod of Russian People took place, when the Russian Orthodox Church launched “a new human rights concept” different of the “western” one and before the awarding[3] of Zhironovsky and Baburin, Russian skins (whose number is estimated at approximately 50,000) killed some people from ethnic and racial hatred.

Of course, such a “heritage” confirms only the supposition that it must be transmitted to one who deserves and on basis of personal confidence of that who will make the transfer, not to anybody on basis of some “free and fair elections”. Under these circumstances, the states “driven away” from CIS will be unlikely enthusiastic with an eventual comeback to a new orbit of influence of Russia.


  1. Political pressures and economic blockade on some states in CIS, including Moldova, will have a very negative impact which will be visible after a couple of months. However, the “driving away” of Moldova from CIS shall not be treated like something similar with “chasing from Heaven”, as some economic-financial and political valves have been and will open to it: restoration of relations with IMF; restructuring of external debts by the Paris Club; accepting as full rights member of the South East European Cooperation Process; perspective of signing an Agreement on Autonomous Trade Preferences in relations with the European Union; expected entry in CEFTA. It is important for Moldova to know how to benefit of these opportunities in order to reduce the negative effects of the “driving away” from CIS. In this regard, the internal democratisation remains an indispensable imperative, which conditions any kind of pro-European perspectives;
  2. Consolidation of GUAM expected at the May 22–23 Kiev summit is as welcome as possible. In order to protect their interests against “heritage” of President Putin, GUAM must coordinate its actions very minutely in order to give a consolidated answer to this defiance. As for example, the uncoordinated speculation of the problem that Georgia and Ukraine will withdraw from CIS seems to be inopportune. This problem must be analysed from all aspects, by calculating the political and economic consequences, the eventual support of other states and international organisations. Although the restoration of good relations with Russia shall remain an objective of major importance, the “driving away” from CIS must be influenced in a manner to produce the unexpected effects for Russia, which has initiated it. Thus, the gradual “driving away” of CIS members shall turn into a collective escape and this should be done approximately after a year, in the mid-2007, when President Vladimir Putin will start preparing the “transfer of authority” to the eventual successor. This would be an “asymmetrical” but adequate and legitimate answer to Russia’s actions. If this happens, the withdrawal from CIS will be the best proof of failed foreign policies of President Putin, who has declared the “civilised divorce” but promoted a policy of “chasing” from CIS. The Zhirinovsky-Baburin circles and other much obscure circles will have to react to this failure in order to demonstrate that they have truly deserved the high state awards for “merits and friendship”. The nature of eventual reactions could motivate the Russian public opinion to examine carefully the “heritage” of President Putin and eventually to decide at the March 2008 elections if they need such a succession or an alternative;
  3. Political parties in Moldova should probably reduce the intensity of altercations related to the “April 4 vote” in order to focus on demarcation lines in the pro- and against NATO coordination system and this would correlate with trends from other GUAM states.
  1. “Как гражданин гражданину”, Наталья Меликова, Независимая Газета, 15.05.2006
  2. See series of excellent articles of Alexandr Kabacov and Yuri Bogomolov at
  3. By accident, President Putin awarded the two Russian patriots on April 20, on birthday of Hitler
Public opinion in Moldova concerning Euro-Atlantic integration New customs regime and Ukrainian factor: Main piece of resistance or weak link?