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December 9, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8397

Russian Expert Vladislav Inozemtsev: Putin Is Not Today's Asian Leader, He Is Yesterday's European Leader

December 9, 2019
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8397

The Russian economist and sociologist Vladislav Inozemtsev recently published an article, titled "Vladimir Putin is 100% European", in which he challenged the notion that Russia is a half Asian country and therefore authoritarian rule is natural to it.

Inozemtsev's article appears to target Russian intellectuals like Sergey Karaganov, former foreign policy advisor to Russia's Presidential Administration (2001-2013) and a dean at the prestigious Higher School of Economics, who support the idea that Russia is as legitimate a successor to Genghis Khan's empire as China.[1]

According to Karaganov, in the East, Russia finds itself at home. "They [in the East] are not hampered by political or cultural missionary activity," Karaganov specified, "We must move, and move in the only direction possible to us for the time being — eastwards. But this movement is not forced or involuntary; rather, it is a way home, to our unique Eurasian character."[2]

However, Karaganov said that this move towards the east is hindered by many factors, among them the fact that the Russian intelligentsia is ashamed of acknowledging this Asian "half" of themselves. According to Karaganov, it's time to stop feeling ashamed that historically Russia is Genghis Khan's successor and therefore is committed to the authoritarian system of government and not to liberal democracy. "If we were not authoritarian and centralized, we would not have existed in our current borders. But shame comes from ignorance as well," Karagonov stated.[3]

However, Inozemtsev rejects this view of Russian identity and Russia's system of government. Russia, counters Inozemtsev does not have an Asian "half", but is 100% European, and so is Russia's head of State. "Vladimir Putin is not an Asian tyrant, he is not the leader of a resuscitated [Mongol Golden] Horde; he is 100% European," Inozemtsev wrote. He situated Putinism within a Westphalian view of sovereignty, stressing that like the European absolute sovereigns, Putin considers the country his own property, and believes himself justly entitled to distribute all conceivable privileges to his favorites and friends. According to Inozemtsev, this is not Asian despotism, but European rule to the core.

"Isn't all this the European way of managing things? Where are all the European values someone will ask? To which I respond. All that was described actually took place in Europe. Borders were redrawn; dissidents were expelled; fortunes were made by buying out tax revenues. Except that all this took place in the past – 200, 300, 400 years ago. Putin is not today's Asian [leader] but yesterday's European [leader]," Inozemtsev wrote.

Inozemtsev then stressed that Putin is not rejecting "Europe" but modernity, and that Russia is not pivoting to Asia but is submitting to the archaic past.

According to Inozemtsev, Putin's "unprecedented popularity" in Europe derives from the recognition that he is a European leader, and not an Asian one. However, he is not perceived as a modern European leader, but as the ruler of an olden European state, where the leaders were all-powerful, and thus evokes a certain nostalgia. "He represents a true life history of the continent, which the Europeans (with a few well-known exceptions) used to be proud of and marvel at," Inozemtsev concluded.

Below is Inozemtsev's article:[4]


(Source: YouTube.com)

Putin Does Not Reject 'Europe' But Modernity

"I had the opportunity to participate in Berlin at two events devoted to Russia and Europe. One convened Europeans, the other Russians. At both they talked about Putin, about his authoritarianism, the eradication of democracy in Russia, about the 'Russian people' and about the Russians living in Europe. Everywhere doubt was betrayed over whether Russia was really part of European civilization. Everywhere they recalled the 'pivot to the East' and the Asiatic features of our country.

"I tried to introduce dissonance into the speeches of the orators with theses that I have long repeated but that on that day emerged in streamlined and consistent order.

"Vladimir Putin is not an Asian tyrant, he is not the leader of a resuscitated [Mongol Golden] Horde; he is 100% European, who incorporates a Westphalian view of sovereignty. He is a European, who considers it his right to inculcate among his subjects the religion or ideology that treats him kindly. He is a European, who has no scruples about seizing the territory of other states, when those weaken or are unprepared to defend themselves. He is a European, who harshly punishes his minions for apostasy and free thinking. Finally he is a European, who considers the country as his property, and that he is justly entitled to distribute all conceivable privileges and sinecures to his favorites and friends.

"But isn't all this the European way of managing things? Where are all the European values someone will ask? To which I respond. All that was described actually took place in Europe. Borders were redrawn; dissidents were expelled; fortunes were made by buying out tax revenues. Except that all this took place in the past – 200, 300, 400 years ago. Putin is not today's Asian but yesterday's European. He is doing what was acceptable for many centuries until our blessed era. He does not reject 'Europe' but modernity. Russia is not pivoting to Asia but is submitting to the archaic, but none of the European intellectuals or politicians sees this.

"Furthermore, it is precisely such an understanding of what essentially took place, that I think provides an explanation for Putin's unprecedented popularity in Europe and the readiness by many European politicians to cooperate with him in one form or another. For the latter, the Russian president does not appear as an African king or an Asian dictator. He is the head of a European state of the past, in which the leaders were all-powerful (which they cannot allow themselves now). He represents a true life history of the continent, which the Europeans (with a few well-known exceptions) used to be proud of and marvel at. Urging them to approach an evaluation of current Russia solely from the perspective of its state of democratic procedures and defense of human rights is to a large degree senseless.

"That is of course painful.

"However, at the same time a similar discourse provides a clear an unambiguous response to two most important and constantly discussed questions:

"Is Russia naturally an integral part of Europe? Unconditionally!

"Will it ever be similar to today's Europe? Yes, within a matter of centuries."

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