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Kyrgyz political analyst Mars Sariyev believes Russia is running out of time. "China is becoming the dominant power here and popular feelings that could favour a new confederation of equals with Russia are being dashed by the Kremlin's bullying." A young diplomat at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges that the approach is self-limiting. "What we need is a tandem partner to begin integration and construct a sphere of economic influence like the Franco-German partnership that built the EU. But the generation above me behaves as if they are in a Cold War. And they will never treat Kazakhstan as an equal."

Russia is still an empire built of different parts and pipelines. The Kremlin is clinging to the Caucasus whatever the cost and throwing away chances for integration as by bullying its former colonies. This brings no benefits to ordinary people. Russia's hollow economy is in free-fall and over-reliance on oil is sickening its structures. Life is tough, mostly poor and short for ordinary people. The windfalls from oil are wasted in enclaves and rockets or simply stolen. Yet Russians enthusiastically cheer the self-destructive and illusory quest for empire, because this is the meaning of derzhava, the very idea of Russia itself. 

A new generation is reaching adulthood, born during the fall of the Soviet Empire and the chaos that followed. If they can re-imagine what Russia means they may still save it. Goethe and Schiller once warned their compatriots not "to become a nation", offering instead an alternative within their grasp: "Make yourselves rather — you can do it — more freely into human beings."

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Bill Corr
October 6th, 2009
10:10 AM
The dismemberment of the Soviet Empire caused tragic suffering ... even the remaining Pontic Greeks were involved as victimes

September 29th, 2009
3:09 PM
The "harsh consonant" "D"? Idiotic.

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