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...AS RUSSIA'S PLACE IN THE WORLD ALSO UNEVEN. Annual per capita income in Russia last year was $2,610, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 17, reported. By this indicator, Russia is in 97th place in the world, between Brazil and El Salvador. In average life expectancy, at 67.7 years Russia occupies 142nd place, between Iraq and Belize. In measuring the degree of satisfaction with their lives, the so-called happiness index, Russians are 79th in the world, between Moldovans and Ukrainians. In the number of cars per 1,000 people, Russia (156) lies between Macedonia and Trinidad and Tobago. In its level of corruption, Russia is in 28th place in the world, followed by Ghana. Finally, Russia is in seventh place in the world in the number of Nobel Prize winners (21) and in third place in the number of dollar billionaires (27). VY
RUSSIAN SPECIALIST SAYS COLOR MATTERS IN POLITICAL STRUGGLE. Vasilii Filin, the director of Moscow's VideoEcology center, said that the color orange chosen by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to symbolize his party has a mobilizing effect, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 17. reported. This is the color of prosperity and joy. In Russia it has been chosen by the new Our Choice party, led by Irina Khakamada. On the other hand, the color blue, chosen by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in his campaign against Yushchenko, was one of the reasons for his defeat in the presidential election. Blue is the color of stability and does not comply with the dynamics of political struggle, Filin said. In Russia, blue is the color chosen by Unified Russia. The most aggressive color is red, which from ancient times has been considered the color of revelation and revolution. Especially if it is combined with black, the color of protest and negation. In Russia, the red and black banner is the color chosen by the National Bolshevik Party of Eduard Limonov, "Argumenty i fakty" noted. VY
A senior Russian foreign-policy analyst says that Moscow's lack of attention to "the colossal deficit of human, investment, and other resources" in Siberia and the Russian Far East is leading to a situation in which that region may "simply slip away on its own" sometime in the future.
In an interview published online last week, Irina
Kobrinskaya, who is a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences'
Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said that the
loss of that enormous region would mean that "Russia would cease to
Indeed, Kobrinskaya continued, the departure of the Russian Far East would be "significantly more important" to the country than the loss of Russian influence in or control over Ukraine, and therefore this possibility should become "issue No. 1" for all those concerned about the future of the Russian Federation.
In measured language, the Moscow analyst made two additional points with regard to this possibility. On the one hand, she insisted that the loss of the Russian Far East is hardly inevitable or will necessarily occur "in the next three to five years." But at the same time, she added that it is "completely impossible to exclude" that possibility.
"If we do not change [the country's] immigration policy, if we do not make every effort to link this region economically [to the rest of the country], and if we do not develop real transportation ties" -- and "not just two roads or three pipelines" -- she argued, then the "quiet slipping away" of this enormous region will become more likely.
And on the other hand, Kobrinskaya said that her argument in no way implies that the Chinese or the Japanese are somehow about to "seize" this area, as many Russian nationalists have claimed in recent years. "Everyone [in these countries] perfectly well understands the situation," she said, and they won't try.
Instead, the worsening demographic and economic situation of the Russian Far East, she continued, is leading ever more officials and people there to consider that the best way out might be "to reach an agreement with the Japanese," who could provide more financing and investment than they currently receive from Moscow.
Yurii Pronin's article "The Siberian State: Fact or Chimera?" that was published in "Baikalskie vesti" on 15 April 2004 (available online at http://babr.irk.ru) shows just how accurately Kobrinskaya has depicted the feelings of people in the Russian Far East.
For three reasons, Kobrinskaya's argument is likely to attract far more attention and prove far more disturbing to officials in Moscow than have been demonstrations against the new border accord with Beijing and the possible return of the Kurile Islands to Japan, or often overheated suggestions by Russian nationalists that "the Chinese are coming."
First, she is a distinguished analyst of international affairs and especially of the situation along the Pacific Rim, someone whose judgments in the past have been generally moderate and mainstream. For her to say this now suggests that she and others examining the issue are truly worried.
Second, Kobrinskaya's language is remarkably dispassionate. She makes her argument on this point with the bare minimum of inevitably inflammatory adjectives and adverbs. Consequently, her words are likely to be read to the end by many in and near the Kremlin who would normally dismiss any such projection out of hand.And third, Kobrinskaya makes it clear that she does not want to see Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East "drift away" and that she is convinced that given the right policies, the central government in Moscow can and must do something to stop this process from going any further.
At the same time, however, Kobrinskaya's words have raised the stakes. If Moscow responds to the challenges she suggests the region poses, then the population of the Russian Far East will have reason to celebrate that region's continued integration into the Russian Federation.
But if the central government does not or does not do so in an adequate fashion, then an increasing number of people in that region may conclude, on the basis of Kobrynskaya's words and their own experiences, that if they should eventually decide to secede from the Russian Federation, Moscow will have only itself to blame.
BELARUS GRANTS EARLY RELEASE TO 14 RUSSIAN DEMONSTRATORS. The Minsk City Court on 30 April ruled to release the 14 Russians who were detained at an unauthorized antipresidential rally in Minsk on 26 April and subsequently punished with jail terms varying from five to 15 days (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 2005), RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Belapan reported. The court ruling followed an appeal by Russian Ambassador to Belarus Aleksandr Blokhin, which was broadcast by the NTV channel on 29 April. "This fact once again shows Belarus' readiness for the further strengthening of allied relations with Russia," Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ruslan Yesin commented upon the release of Russian demonstrators. ITAR-TASS reported the Russians left on 30 April on a train to Moscow without any marks in their passports banning future admission to Belarus. Meanwhile, five Ukrainians arrested at the same rally remain in jail in Minsk. The Minsk City Court is reportedly due to reconsider their fate on 2 May. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said on 1 May that the refusal to free the five Ukrainians reflects Belarus's "special attitude" to Ukraine, and added that Belarus "gives more attention" to relations with Russia, according to Interfax. JM
UKRAINIAN LEFTISTS STAGE MAY DAY RALLIES... Ukrainian Communists and other left-wing organizations staged a number of what were generally sparsely attended rallies in some cities to celebrate the May Day holiday, Ukrainian media reported on 1 May. In particular, May Day rallies reportedly gathered 2,500 people in Kyiv, 6,000 in Sevastopol, 5,000 in Donetsk Oblast, and 1,000 in Kharkiv. Speaking to demonstrators in Kyiv, Communist Party leader Petro Yushchenko denounced the policy of President Viktor Yushchenko as "pro-American" and likely to lead to "the impoverishment of the Ukrainian people and a split in the centuries-old fraternal relations with Russia," ITAR-TASS reported. JM
...AS PRESIDENT ATTENDS ORTHODOX EASTER SERVICES. This year May Day coincided with the Easter holiday observed by Orthodox and Greek Catholic (Uniate) believers in Ukraine. President Yushchenko attended Easter services in the Uspenskiy Cathedral (under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate) and the Volodymyrskiy Cathedral (Kyiv Patriarchate) in Kyiv in the early hours of 1 May, Ukrainian media reported. Yushchenko's schedule for the following week includes a vacation in Crimea from 2-6 May, the CIS summit in Moscow on 8 May, and celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II with veterans in Kyiv on 9 May. JM
U.S. BACKS UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S PEACE PLAN FOR TRANSDNIESTER. The U.S. permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Paul Jones, said in a statement distributed by the U.S. State Department that Washington supports President Yushchenko's initiative concerning the settlement of the Transdniester conflict, Infotag reported on 29 April. Speaking at the GUUAM summit in Chisinau on 22 April, Yushchenko proposed a seven-point plan aimed at resolving the long-running conflict (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 2005). Yushchenko's peace proposal would entail holding free and democratic elections in Transdniester under the aegis of the EU, the OSCE, the United States, and Russia, and the replacement of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Transdniester with international military and civilian observers. Jones said Washington will carefully study Yushchenko's initiative and will discuss it with Ukraine, Moldova, and other international mediators and interested parties. JM
The news media are under severe duress in virtually all of the countries of the former Soviet Union. In the former Soviet republics of Central Asia this condition is particularly acute.
The troubled state of Central Asia's news media is put into perspective by data from Freedom House's annual survey of press freedom. All of these countries fall into the category of "not free." Most disturbing, however, is the countries' trajectory. All of these lands, save Tajikistan whose ratings have improved since the end of that country's violent civil war, now enjoy less press freedom than they did a decade ago.
The tools of media manipulation and control range from the subtle to the brutal. Already marginalized independent media confront a range of obstacles, from unusually vigilant tax inspectors to physical violence, including the killing of journalists.
This systematic abuse results in a massive information gap that warps the development of these societies and deprives its citizens of the free flow of information that can bring about democratic progress.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the state television broadcast facility was of particular interest to protesters in Kyrgyzstan, who in March jettisoned the regime of then President Askar Akaev. The protesters' taking of the airwaves released the information spigot that had been all but closed to the opposition during campaign leading up to the recent flawed parliamentary elections.
The authorities in Tajikistan, which also held parliamentary elections in February, undertook their own campaign to rein in media. Citing alleged tax violations, the authorities shut down several newspapers, including "Adolat," "Odamu Olam," and "Ruzi No." Peter Eicher, chief of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said of the Tajik authorities' treatment of the news media that "it seems to represent a pattern of government interference with independent media and this has an effect which undermines democratic elections."
On the heels of recent events in the neighborhood, Uzbek authorities have reportedly initiated criminal proceedings against Internews, a media assistance organization, signaling another effort to limit independent media development in that highly closed country.
Turkmenistan, among the most repressive states in the world, is sui generis. The government controls all media, which is used principally as an instrument to promote the personality cult of the country's president, Saparmurat Niyazov.
The authorities in these countries seek to manage the news and deny information to their citizens with good reason. Without exception, the news on these regimes' governance performance is not good. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the authorities in all five former Soviet Central Asian republics have been mired in corruption and unable to deliver essential political goods to their people.
Shining a light on these problems would of course have a salutary impact. A free flow of news and information could precipitate a demand for greater responsiveness to societal needs. Such responsiveness is, however, something Central Asian leadership has shown little capacity or willingness to entertain. As events in Georgia, Ukraine and, now, Kyrgyzstan tell us, average citizens already have come to expect better governance from their leaders, despite the best efforts of these very same leaders to keep them in the dark.
The main features of media control include deep involvement of presidential family and close associates in ownership and management positions at broadcast and print news organizations.
In Kyrgyzstan, independent broadcasters have been virtually all owned or under the control of forces close to President Akaev, including his son-in-law and other family members. The print media has been a similar story, frequently practicing self-censorship in its political coverage.
Kazakhstan boasts a more modern media landscape, but print and broadcast outlets of import are owned or controlled by financial interests and parties affiliated with the regime. President Nursultan Nazarbaev's daughter, Darigha Nazarbaeva, controls major television channels. She also exerts significant influence over several major newspapers.
To meet the range of serious challenges that loom -- corruption, economic development, and security among them -- Central Asia needs its own information revolution, which would be a key catalyst for moving forward the democratic reform process. Events in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan suggest that the democratic impulse has real traction. Despite the best efforts to control information, word of mouth and new technology is inexorably conspiring to spread the word about democratic developments, even to the most remote corners of the former Soviet space.
Unlike in the Middle East, the citizens of Central Asia do not enjoy access to the dynamic and catalytic media outlets the likes of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah that are beamed via satellite into households throughout the politically repressive Mideast region.
This suggests that Central Asia's media reform will need to take root from within.
Toward this end, on 1 April Kyrgyzstan's media and NGO community made a public appeal for the creation of a working group that would draft legislation to establish independent public television and radio. The transformation of the country's state-controlled National TV and Radio Corporation into a genuinely independent, public station would set a valuable precedent in the region.
In Kyrgyzstan, expectations are very high, perhaps unreasonably so, for achieving swift and comprehensive reforms. Kyrgyz citizens and the outside world alike should hold no illusions about the magnitude of this challenge. The recent turn of events in Kyrgyzstan, as regards the media sector, could represent an important first step and sorely needed breath of fresh air on what is now a grim information landscape.
International watchdog organizations reacted quickly to Yoqubov's arrest. Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued press releases expressing concern for the journalist's safety. Noting that the charges against Yoqubov could carry a 20-year prison sentence, the two organizations quoted sources in Uzbekistan as saying that the authorities might be using an accusation of religious extremism to punish the journalist for addressing a hot-button political issue.
In an 18 April press release, the Committee to Protect Journalists quoted a March article Yoqubov wrote about the murder of Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Yoqubov argued that Gongadze's slaying "became a driving force [for Ukrainians] to realize the necessity of democratic reforms and freedom."
Pascale Bonnamour, head of the Europe desk for Reports Without Borders, told the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) on 20 April that Yakubov's arrest should be viewed in the context of recent events in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. "The fact that Yakubov is in prison serves as a warning to other journalists to monitor what they say," she said.
The U.S. State Department also expressed concern. "Our embassy is in contact with the Uzbek authorities and has urged observance of due process and fair and humane treatment for Mr. Yakubov," spokesman Adam Ereli said at a 19 April briefing published on the State Department website (http://www.state.gov). As noted in our 2004 Human Rights Report, in the past journalists have been harassed by the Uzbek government in an apparent effort to limit publication of critical stories. We will be following this case closely."
The National Bolshevik Party (NBP), which is Russia's oldest radical youth organization, was created in 1994 by radical writer Eduard Limonov, Eurasianism ideologue Aleksandr Dugin (who soon left the party), and rock musicians Yegor Letov and Sergei Kurikhin, as well as other counterculture figures.
Although according to its own statistics the NBP has 30,000 to 50,000 members and branches in 24 key Russian regions as well as in the Baltic states and the CIS, the party has no official status, as the authorities persistently refuse to register it. It has a network of regional and international websites and requests that its new members possess Internet skills.
The NBP's leader and cult figure is Eduard Limonov, 62, a man with an unusual history and one of the few Russian politicians with no links to the Soviet and post-Soviet ruling elite. Born in Kharkiv, Limonov was a member of the Soviet literary underground in the 1960s. In 1974, he emigrated to the United States, where he became close to American Trotskyites and anarchists. It was there that he wrote his best-selling novel "It is me, Eddie," (Eto ya, Yedichka), which has been translated into 15 languages.
Limonov soon moved to Paris, where he became a member of the French avant-garde literary salons and joined forces with French and European leftist and neo-rightist political radicals, including French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. In the late 1980s, he began to publish his articles in the national-patriotic press in the Soviet Union and in 1992 moved back to Russia. In 1994 Limonov launched the extremist ultranationalist newspaper "Limonka," which quickly began to attract various groups of young people frustrated by the hardships of reforms and embittered at the West.
Armed with his political experience in the West, Limonov proposed the creation of "revolutionary party of a new style" that could attract young people with a combination of extremist ultranationalist propaganda and "direct action" as practiced during the Maoist student protest in France and other European countries in 1968. Limonov suggested calling the new party the National Bolsheviks, as he believed that the word "communism" had been compromised by the reactionary policies of the Communist Party, which he also blamed for "losing the USSR."
While Limonov became the leader of the NBP, its chief
ideologue was Aleksandr Dugin (see
http://www.rferl.org/specials/russianelection/bio/dugin.asp), the main standard bearer of the neo-imperialistic doctrine of Eurasianism. Dugin was also a proponent of the idea of a "conservative revolution" pitting Eurasia against the Atlantic powers of Great Britain and the United States. Dugin was also an editor of the party newspaper, "Limonka."
Looking back at the NBP's activities in the 1990s, the leader of the rival Communist Party-controlled Young Left Front, Ilya Ponamarev, told kreml.org on 4 April that "the organization never was or is a youth movement at all."
"It is a postmodernist aesthetic project of intellectual provocateurs [in the positive meaning of the word] in which many bright and nontrivial personalities like Eduard Limonov, Aleksandr Dugin, Sergei Kurikhin, and [analyst] Stanislav Belkovskii were involved," Ponamarev said. "It was an effort, and, a quite successful one, to mobilize the most passionate and intellectually dissatisfied part of society (in contrast to the Communist Party, which utilized the social and economic protests of the leftist electorate). For this mobilization, the NBP used a bizarre mixture of totalitarian and fascist symbols, geopolitical dogma, leftist ideas, and national-patriotic demagoguery."
In 1998, Dugin and his followers left the NBP. After Dugin's exit, the NBP quickly moved to the left wing of Russia's political spectrum, accusing Dugin and his group of being fascists.
At that point, the NBP began having considerable problems with the Federal Security Service (FSB), since the special services always favored Dugin's Eurasianist philosophy. Or as 102-year-old KGB Foreign Intelligence veteran Boris Gudz claimed in the 2004 book "Geniuses of Intelligence," Eurasianism was invented in the 1920s by the OGPU, a predecessor of the KGB. Consequentially, the FSB regarded all opponents of Eurasianism, including the NBP, as enemies.
The conflict between the FSB and NBP was exacerbated by the tactics of "direct action," in which NBP activists publicly attacked people they considered symbols of the regime or domestic or foreign allies of the Kremlin. The NBP's favorite tactics were throwing mayonnaise or tomatoes at prominent public figures. Since 1998, such people as former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, and film director Nikita Mikhalkov were subjected to such attacks by the NBP, while former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Great Britain's Prince Charles were hit in face with bunches of flowers.
For these and other nonviolent actions that the NBP calls "velvet terror," many of its activists have been arrested and sentenced to serious prison terms. According to the NBP website (http://nbp-info.ru), more than 100 of its members have been in Russian prisons since the party's creation, while 47 are still serving sentences or awaiting trial.
In April 2001, Limonov and a group of his followers were arrested by the FSB in Altai under accusations of terrorism and preparing an armed rebellion in Kazakhstan.
Limonov awaited trial in jail until February 2003, when he was sentenced to four years in prison. Limonov pleaded not guilty and sought political-prisoner status. "We do not deserve to be called extremists. In the West, we would occupy a place between Greenpeace and Amnesty International, being a legal party and real political force, " he said, according to informacia.ru.
In prison, Limonov wrote the book "The Other Russia," in which he dropped much of the radical dogma of national bolshevism and changed his mind about the past and future of Russia. For example, in the mid-1990s NBP activists shocked people with chants of "Stalin, Beria, Gulag," but after personal experience with modern Russian prisons, Limonov and his followers stopped romanticizing state-security organs and began calling President Vladimir Putin's Russia a "police state."
Under pressure from State Duma deputies, Limonov was released in June 2003 and continued his political evolution toward a coalition with democratic forces and the left-wing opposition against the Kremlin. The product of this evolution was the new NBP political program released in 2004, containing almost identical points to Yabloko's, for instance.
According to the program posted at http://nbp-info.ru, the new goals of the party should be the development of civil society and restriction of state interference in public and personal life, facilitation of the registration and activity of political parties, development of independent media and allowing criticism of the president and government on state-controlled television, civilian control over law enforcement and the FSB, restoration of the social-security network, curtailing of bureaucracy, and the end of the war in Chechnya.
Since late 2004, the NBP has protested the cancellation of the direct election of governors and the botched monetization reform and enthusiastically supported the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. On 11 April the NBP together with the Communist Party, Motherland, Sergei Glazev's For a Decent Life party, and supported by Yabloko, organized an initiative group for a national referendum on social and political reforms "with a human face," Russian media reported.
If the political orientation of NBP in the last couple years changed visibly, the tactics of direct action remain unchanged and became even more provocative.
On 2 August 2004, a group of NBP activists broke into the office of Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov and occupied it for several hours, demanding Zurabov's resignation for his responsibility for the unpopular social-benefits reforms, the NBP's website announced. Using flash-mob tactics, the NBP called its followers to gather around the office to support the action. Eventually, FSB arrested most of the participants of the action and on 12 December seven NBP activist were each sentenced to five years in prison for the "seizure of a government office and mass disturbances."
On 14 December 2004, an even bigger group of NBP members occupied the presidential-administration visitors' room in much the same manner, to protest Putin's political reforms, nbp-info.ru reported. Thirty-nine members of NBP have been arrested and are still awaiting trial. They have been accused of "attempting to seize power and organize a mass disturbance." If convicted, they could face two to eight years in prison. They are scheduled to face trial in August.
Meanwhile, the NBP continues to defend the "right of the people to revolution." The weekly "Limonka," No. 271, declared on 16 April that Russia is on the eve of revolution. "The people awoke during perestroika, and fell asleep for a while, now they have awakened again to discover what kind of moral monsters are governing them. And they rebel against these monsters. Moral complaints against the authorities are the main engine of the colored revolution."
Some political analysts believe that the only kind of revolution that can happen in Russian is a leftist-socialist and/or nationalist-patriotic revolution. If that is indeed the case, NBP, with 10 years of experience in confrontation with government, its own list of political prisoners, and tactics of direct action, will likely be at the eye of the revolutionary storm.
In his state-of-the-nation address on 25 April, Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised the West by calling the Soviet Union's collapse the "biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." Putin said, "For the Russian people, it became a real drama. Tens of millions of our citizens and countrymen found themselves outside Russian territory. The epidemic of disintegration also spread to Russia itself."
Outside Russia, Putin's declaration has sparked debate over the gravity of the Soviet Union's demise compared to other geopolitical catastrophes such as World War II.
Some Western publications have suggested that the rise -- rather than the fall -- of the Soviet Union might have been the real catastrophe of the 20th century.
In Russia, however, Putin's statement has failed to create much controversy. Instead, it has been met largely with indifference, tacit agreement, and even enthusiasm.
Boris Kagarlitskii, the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies in Moscow, said he tends to agree with the Russian president.
Kagarlitskii said the fall of the Soviet Union and its ensuing chaos affected, at least initially, tens of millions of lives across a massive territory. And the changes, he argued, were not always for the best.
"It is very clear that for the great majority of Russian people, the disintegration of the Soviet Union was a personal catastrophe," Kagarlitskii said. "It was also a catastrophe for a tremendous majority of people in Tajikistan, quite a lot of people in Uzbekistan, and so on, including many people in Ukraine. Because families were divided, people's lives were ruined, living standards collapsed, the minimal standards of human justice, and very often of freedom, were also neglected."
Another reason Putin's statement has failed to surprise Russians is the fact that it comes from a former member of the Soviet secret services.
Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst at the Carnegie Center in Moscow, said Putin's comment indicates some personal nostalgia for the Soviet Union, since its collapse marked the end of his career as a KGB officer.
Putin's declaration, he said, was mainly intended as an olive branch to Russia's elderly and veterans ahead of the 9 May celebrations in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The reform in January of Soviet-era social benefits had riled pensioners, thousands of whom had staged protests for weeks across the country.
Petrov said Putin's Soviet nostalgia would have found a receptive audience in older Russians who have seen their living standards steadily decline since 1991.
"[Putin's declaration] has to be understood in the broader context of the president's address, which was pronounced in such a tone as to be pleasant to all categories of citizens," Petrov said. "Such thoughts are particularly popular among the elderly and the veterans, in whose eyes Putin's image was greatly tarnished by the monetization of benefits at the beginning of the year."
Traditionally, the state-of-the-nation address is devoted to reviewing the government's performance in the past year and outlining its future course.
Analysts were therefore perplexed by the prominence of historical events in Putin's speech, and why he sought to place the fall of the Soviet Union in a global context.
Petrov said Putin is obviously concerned by the recent protests that toppled governments in former Soviet republics Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia had been very critical of the protests, but had failed to curb them.
"I think that [Putin's declaration] is definitely linked to the events that are taking place on post-Soviet territory," Petrov said. "It is in part a reaction to global tectonic processes, changes -- to the transition from a post-Soviet existence to a fundamentally new life on this territory."
Putin also used his state-of-the-nation address to make clear he would not tolerate similar events on Russian territory. He said authorities would react to any unrest with what he called "legal but tough means."