Russian Analyst Says Putin to Become Monarch of Post-Soviet Space
Professor Igor Panarin, who grabbed headlines last November with his prediction that the United States would disintegrate, told the Izvestia newspaper that numerous factors, including last year's war with Georgia and the weakness of the global financial system, suggest that a new union will emerge around Russia. The new bloc, a result of step-by-step economic integration, would "not be formed on the model of the Soviet Union, but on the model of the European Union...
In describing the leader of such a union, I would use the word that Machiavelli liked to use - a prince," Panarin told the paper."The prince of the post-Soviet space would be Vladimir Putin. His main asset is that, firstly, he has authority among the national elites of the post-Soviet republics, and secondly, has produced effective results in the eight years he has led Russia. Our country is centralized and stable, and last August passed a test of its strength."
He called the August conflict between Russia and Georgia a turning point in Eurasian integration, as "Russia was then seen by the eyes of the world." The Americans and the Chinese decided not to interfere in the conflict, with the result that they lost all influence in the Caucasus region, he said. The conflict also had wider-reaching repercussions, he added. "We can see now that countries have essentially stopped hurling allegations at us, continual attacks. A few days ago the EU admitted that Georgia was wrong in its actions." Russia did not only succeed in ending the genocide in South Ossetia, but also "signed deals on placing military bases," setting the right political and military conditions for "processes of integration in the post-Soviet space." Under the world system envisaged by Panarin, there will be three centers of power - China, the European Union, and the Russia-led "EU-2."
The first to join Russia's union will be Belarus and Kazakhstan, whose president Nursultan Nazarbayev recently proposed a single currency for the region; the rest of the ex-Soviet republics, including eventually the Baltic States, will join later, he said. He noted China's support for Russia's idea of a new global reserve currency. "China should conduct integration in the Pacific region, and Russia in the post-Soviet space, based on their national currencies. The ruble and the yuan could become centers of gravity for the two countries, the basis of the new world super-currency." Panarin said that with the challenges facing the world amid the financial crisis, the process of integration in Eurasia can already be seen.
"The global economic and political system is on the verge of colossal changes. Now is the right time to think about the future of the global architecture - and its contours can already be seen."
"A unique situation is developing. Until recently there were many factors holding back the integration process in the post-Soviet space, but today the logic of the financial crisis demands new actions, which must succeed. In literally the past few days, several breakthrough foreign policy meetings have been held. An agreement was signed in Moscow on integration between Moldova and Transdnestr - the first breakthrough in 10 years. The unprecedentedly long talks between the presidents of Russia and Belarus - this is also no coincidence."
He suggested 2012 as a likely date for the process of forming a new union to be complete, with Putin initially elected for a five-year term. When asked about the current system of leadership in Russia, with Putin as prime minister and Dmitry Medvedev as president, he said it is bound to end soon. "The 'president-premier' system is very unstable for Russia. Our entire history has shown that two centers of power cannot strategically exist for long," he said. Panarin, 50, heads the international relations department at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.
Russia Backs Return to Gold Standard to Solve Financial Crisis
Russia has become the first major country to call for a partial restoration of the Gold Standard to uphold discipline in the world financial system.
Arkady Dvorkevich, the Kremlin's chief economic adviser, said Russia would favour the inclusion of gold bullion in the basket-weighting of a new world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund. Chinese and Russian leaders both plan to open debate on an SDR-based reserve currency as an alternative to the US dollar at the G20 summit in London this week, although the world may not yet be ready for such a radical proposal. Mr Dvorkevich said it was "logical" that the new currency should include the rouble and the yuan, adding that "we could also think about more effective use of gold in this system". The Gold Standard was the anchor of world finance in the 19th Century but began breaking down during the First World War as governments engaged in unprecedented spending. It collapsed in the 1930s when the British Empire, the US, and France all abandoned their parities. It was revived as part of fixed dollar system until US inflation caused by the Vietnam War and "Great Society" social spending forced President Richard Nixon to close the gold window in 1971. The world's fiat paper currencies have lacked any external anchor ever since. It is widely argued that the financial excesses and extreme debt leverage of the last quarter century would have been impossible - or less likely - under the discipline of gold. Russia is a major gold producer with large untapped reserves of ore so it has a clear interest in promoting the idea. The Kremlin has already instructed the central bank of gradually raise the gold share of foreign reserves to 10pc. China's government has floated a variant of this idea, suggesting a currency based on 30 commodities along the lines of the "Bancor" proposed by John Maynard Keynes in 1944.
In other news:
Prominent Chechen Killed in Dubai
The Russian authorities have confirmed a prominent opponent of the pro-Kremlin Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, was shot dead in Dubai on Saturday. Diplomats said Sulim Yamadayev's body had been identified by his relatives. Mr Yamadayev fell out with Mr Kadyrov last year and was sacked as commander of an elite security forces battalion. Saturday's killing is the fourth of a prominent Chechen since September, when Mr Yamadayev's brother Ruslan was shot dead while driving in central Moscow. The Chechen leader has denied any involvement in the killings.
Russia is poised to declare a formal end to its 10-year war in Chechnya this week, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow. But far beyond its borders, the bloody struggle for control of Chechnya continues, our correspondent adds. On Saturday, Dubai police said a 36-year-old Chechen man had been shot in the underground car park of a luxury residential complex. It took some time to confirm that the victim was Sulim Yamadayev. "I just received confirmation from the Dubai police that he was killed," Russian Consul Sergei Krasnogor told the Reuters news agency on Monday. The Yamadayevs came from of one of the most powerful clans in Chechnya. Sulim was a former separatist rebel leader who later switched to the Russian side, after then-President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Chechnya to retake control. Mr Yamadayev became commander of the elite Vostok security forces battalion, a unit of former rebels who have helped quell separatist resistance. In 2005, he was named a Hero of Russia, the top national honour. But last year, he was dismissed after falling out with Mr Kadyrov and later fled to the United Arab Emirates.
Spate of killings
Recently opponents have accused Mr Kadyrov's henchmen of systematically removing any opposition to his absolute rule, our correspondent says. However, Mr Kadyrov and his Moscow-backed government have denied any connection to the recent killings of several high-profile Chechens. In January, Umar Israilov, a former bodyguard for Mr Kadyrov who had accused him of torture and kidnapping, was shot dead on a street in Vienna. Then last month, a former deputy mayor of Grozny was shot dead in Moscow. In 2004, two Russian intelligence agents were convicted of killing a former Chechen president, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, in the nearby state of Qatar. Chechnya has been devastated by heavy fighting since 1994, when Russian troops first poured in to crush a separatist movement.