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Russia Needs A Fundamentally New Vision Of Its Role In World Affairs / Россия нуждается в принципиально новом видении своего места в мире


Press Contact: Natalya Petroff, Phone: 917 288 0722E-mail:communications@rccmb.org


Russian-speaking Diaspora Experts Respond to Vladimir Putin’s Speech At the United Nations

September 28, 2015, New York City. – A group of community leaders and international affairs experts in the Russian-speaking diaspora have issued a statement reflecting their shared concern over the negative and isolationist message that Russia’s present government has been sending to the international community, as exemplified in President Vladimir Putin’s address at the United Nations General Assembly, and the dangerous, counterproductive policies behind this message. Even though the likelihood that the present Russian leadership will abandon its confrontational posture toward the Western world, its immediate neighbors, and internal dissenters is not promising, we believe it is our responsibility to help advance solutions and approaches that, over the longer term and under a different government, will help make Russia a better global citizen and a better, non-threatening geopolitical neighbor. With this purpose in mind, our community leaders and experts have contributed their comments on Putin’s address to the UNGA, while emphasizing the need for a fundamentally different vision of Russia’s place in the international community and its role at the United Nations.

“Putin’s speech, which had been billed in Russia as epochal or groundbreaking, one that would place the West, and President Obama personally, before a stark choice between cooperation and peace on the one hand and World War III on the other, was another dud that has further exposed him as an international pariah,” said Alexei Bayer, head of KAFAN FX business consulting services and member of the Advisory Board of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation. “Most analysts had expected exactly what they got: a vague stew of self-justifications, platitudes and attempts to please the ‘world public opinion’, as the present government in Moscow understands it. It’s a one-tune Putin, incapable of learning or understanding anything. His one-day trip to New York was a waste of time and money, confirming to Western leaders that he is not someone they can do business with over the long run. They can afford to wait as long as it will take for him to exit. Unfortunately, Russia risks spending those years languishing behind the new self-imposed iron curtain, in economic trouble and on the margins of the international agenda. What a stark contrast with Pope Francis’ visit to the United Nations.”

“Vladimir Putin’s speech showed the lack of a clear vision of a constructive role that Russia could play in the world,” said Dr. Natalia Mironova, President of the Movement for Nuclear Safety and Member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Public Policy and Law. “It was filled with obscure hints and self-serving revisions of history, such as attributing the founding of the UN to the 1945 Yalta Summit, and with veiled threats to the West, implicit in his words about millions of refugees and the possibility of armed Islamic militants from European countries coming back home. Instead, the Russia that we aspire to see sooner than later must bring to the UN a fundamentally new vision and commitment to dealing with the most pressing problems of humanity, such as the growing inequality, poverty, and hunger, the threat of climate change, and others addressed in the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals. And, as one of the powers that has impacted the internal situation in other countries, from Ukraine to Syria, in the pursuit of its own goals, Russia must fully share with the West the responsibility for welcoming and resettling refugees from these countries.”

“President Putin wants to present himself as a peace-loving ‘firefighter’ extinguishing international conflicts when in fact he possesses a consistent track record of an arsonist in regional conflicts who uses Russian soldiers as cannon fodder for political machinations,” said Ilya Zaslavskiy, international energy expert and Bosch Fellow (2014), Chatham House. “Russian security and intelligence agencies allow the flow of Islamist radicals from Russia and other former Soviet countries into Syria and Iraq, to join the Islamic State, while the Kremlin supports dictatorships in Iran and Syria, all the while blaming the West for the region’s problems. Russia under Putin has been an unpredictable factor in the politics of the Middle East and its energy trade. Russian government’s behavior rather than Putin’s words should serve as a wake-up call for governments, particularly those in the Middle East which did not vote to condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea at the UN last year. Russian arms and economic aid will continue to flow into Iran and Syria and some will end up in the hands of terrorists that threaten these countries and the whole Middle East. Russia’s real long-term interests ought to be to avoid unnecessary involvement in conflicts in the Middle East, seal its borders to incoming and outgoing radical militants and to engage in diplomacy and trade with reasonably responsible parties in the region. This seems unlikely at present.”

«President Putin said nothing at the UN about Russia’s relations with its former citizens currently living abroad, even though this topic has been used in Russia’s domestic propaganda to inflame nationalist passions,» said Dr. Alexander Bolonkin, co-chair of the Board of Directors of American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights and President of the International Association of Former Soviet Political Prisoners. “Truth is, the Russian government owes a large debt to its former citizens that it has no intention to pay. It refuses to pay pensions to former Soviet employees who emigrated from the country prior to 1992, after working for Soviet government, some of them for 30 years or more, and were deprived of citizenship and its entitlements upon leaving the USSR. And it has shown its disrespect for the heroes of the Soviet-era human rights movement by having reduced compensations paid to former political prisoners to the ludicrous sum of 1 USD for every month of their hard labor in penal colonies. A future Russian government will have to apologize to these people and their families and set up a tangible compensation program in order to gain credibility as a true friend of Russians abroad.”

“As Russian-Americans, we are gravely concerned with the pronouncements and the policies of the present Russian government that have made Russia, instead of being a source and a supporter of innovative solutions to major world problems, increasingly a source of security problems for its neighbors and partners,” said Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski, co-chair of the Board of Directors of American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights and member of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council. “The absence of democratic accountability and the mass emigration of professionals, including international affairs professionals, have contributed to a confused, paranoid and deeply insecure worldview producing violent behavior that has brought international sanctions and the worst isolation of Russia from its Western partners in modern history. We in the diaspora must help our country of origin to identify and develop peaceful exit strategies for its future government from the present dead end, for our own sake and for the sake of world peace.”

The authors of this statement have formed a task force that will continue the work on developing democratic and internationalist responses to the challenges facing Russia in world affairs and building up the organizational and intellectual resources of the Russian-speaking diaspora in order to support and advance positive changes in Russia and its foreign policy when these changes inevitably begin.

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