In late January the National Fund for Democracy held a book launch party for “The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won and Lost,” by author Ilyas Akhmadov. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a shot: “The event that has taken place in Washington evokes, to say the least, perplexity”, the MFA statement reads. According to the Ministry, Akhmadov is a militant, a terrorist, a criminal, for whom an international search warrant has been declared by Russia. The Russian foreign policy agency is dissatisfied that in the USA “they have provided [Akhmadov] a platform for appearances, moreover in organizations, which, like the ‘National fund for democracy,’ are financed from the federal budget of the USA.”
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Oh, how well I understand all the fire and fervor of indignation of the Russian MFA: they are eternally indignant, but hardly anyone pays them any attention; they come up with things and propose them, but the world looks upon these proposals most often condescendingly, as they would the ideas of a mentally ill individual. The MFA heaves with all its diplomatic strength, but as a result of these travails for Russia around the borders – sheer enemies and foes.
I can’t recall right away a single independent country recognized by all states that would unequivocally position itself as friendly towards Russia. Not even Byelorussia, after all! (Although Lukashenko’s regime does remind one of Putin’s regime in many ways). In recent years, Russia’s got among its friends Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il (or whoever it is that rules over there, in their closed country?). Yes, also among friends by necessity – South Ossetia and Abkhazia, who have been recognized by the little-known-to-anybody state of Nauru.
I can’t help but recall about that multitude of facts when Russians get in trouble in different countries (upheavals, like recently in Tunisia; planes that don’t fly out (as in the case with the Icelandic volcano); tourist problems (annually and frequently)… And in practically all such cases the Russians count least of all on the help of Russian embassies and consulates: they understand – this, as a rule, is useless. Besides showing off and imperial habits, puffing up cheeks and carrying out dubious functions, there is nothing behind the facades of Russian ambassadors. Recently, political scientists in Bishkek recounted to me about the, to put it mildly, unsuccessful work of the Russian embassy in Kyrgyzstan in the period of the latest upheaval.
What else does the agency that spawns foes for my country engage in? Well, it, it turns out, reads the books of those whom it considers enemies and terrorists. Former leaders of Ichkeria – are in their, it goes without saying, number.
I had met with Ilyas Akhmadov in Washington. And already then, as it seemed to me, Ilyas was paying little attention to the meddlesomeness of the Russian MFA. I think that the international organization Interpol too is not in any great rapture from the quality of those documents that the Russian side provided to them with the objectives of the «international search» for Akhmadov.
As for the claims and dislike of the MFA of the RF towards the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), they have been well known for a long time. It is recalled how in one Russian pro-state/pro-Putin yellow newspaper, an item was published that the NED – this is, no more and no less, one of the structures of… the CIA. Such an impression that the item was written as a dictation exercise from the MFA and FSB of Russia.
I can not but recall such an incident as well. The Kennan Institute had invited me to Washington under a research program. After one of my appearances, an employee of the Russian embassy walked up to the director of the institute with a marching step and expressed the indignation of the Russian MFA by the fact that the institute had not only invited me to the USA, but had even provided a podium for an appearance. The director, of course, was surprised, but was able to report to the MFA-nik that in the USA there is still a democracy.
To be honest, I feel sorry for the MFA-niks: at a time when the whole world is living in the 21st century, they, poor fellows, are eking out their existence someplace during the times of the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody has yet explained to them, poor fellows, that there is such a political order in a state, based on a recognition of the principles of government by the people, freedom and equality of citizens, and that this order is called democracy. This is under democracy that they give people with different views the freedom to write books and to appear from a podium. This is under democracy that they don’t sit journalists criticizing the power in jails and camps. This is under democracy that they don’t sit political competitors in jails and don’t beat them with a truncheon on the head. This is under democracy that they don’t restrict the opportunities for the work of non-governmental organizations to the limit. This is under democracy that they don’t treat any oppositional utterances right away as «playing into the hand of supporters of terrorists “…
…It seems, I understand the Russian MFA: an ideal world in the presentation of its employees – this is such a world in which there is one point of view – that of the leadership of the «United Russia» party and its «national leader» V.V. Putin. Everything else needs to be declared «evoking indignation, perplexity and playing into the hand of terrorism».
Thank God, there are people and countries that do not share this point of view of the world.