Russia Not About To Become An Iran Or A North Korea – OpEd


 It has become a commonplace among many liberal critics of the Putin regime that the current Kremlin leader is promoting the transformation of Russia into something like Iran or North Korea, ideocratic states isolated from the rest of the world, Andrey Nikulin says. But there are compelling reasons why if he tries, he will fail.

With all its problems, the Russian commentator says, Russia remains far more integrated with the rest of the world than either of those countries were even when their current regimes began the process of cutting them off from the world. Even now, Russians are unwilling to be as isolated as some in the regime would like (

No Kremlin propaganda will be able to eliminate from Russian mindsets “the conditioned reflect to go to Wikipedia in search of answers to questions” or completely eliminate “the understandings of decency and the beginnings of humanism that Russians have taken from Western culture,” Nikulin says.

The historical complexity of Russian society and its integration with the West which has shaped the current economic reality of the country makes Russia a very poor candidate to follow the course of Iran and North Korea, and developments in the former show that even if efforts are made to isolate a country they will be opposed and resisted.

Consequently, the commentator concludes, any effort to move in that direction will “either finish off both society and the country itself” before it gets half way to the Iranian or North Korean ideal and that once those threats become obvious, Russians will turn around out of “a sense of self-preservation and wander back to a dull future lit by Western suns.”

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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