What has been brewing all these weeks has happened. People’s protest rallies that did not stop in the cities of Donbass, Kharkiv region and Novorossia (East and South of present-day Ukraine) since the moment of seizure of power in Kiev by pro-American Eurohunts and Ukrainian nationalists, entered a new stage. April 7 in Donetsk in the building of the regional state administration held a meeting of the Republican People's Council of the Donetsk region. The Council adopted the text of the Act of the establishment of the Donetsk People's Republic. People’s activists also proclaimed Kharkiv People’s Republic. For similar actions are ready in the New Russia. The Republican Council also decided to appoint a regional referendum no later than 11 in May 2014. It was no longer just about the status of the region within Ukraine, but also about joining Russia.
The leaders of the movement appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request (reminiscent of a prayer) to protect the population of the region from the Ukrainian "authorities" and nationalists, including by introducing temporary peacekeeping forces into the region. "In the case of aggressive actions of the illegitimate Kiev authorities, we will appeal to the Russian Federation with the request to introduce a military peacekeeping contingent ... Only in Russia do we see the only defender of our culture of the Russian world. Only the peacekeeping contingents of the Russian army will be able to give a convincing signal to the Kiev junta, which came to power through weapon and blood, "- said in a statement.
In response, the Kiev "authorities" began to suppress popular protests: detentions, arrests, and pulling into the region units of forces under their control, groups of Ukrainian nationalists, as well as professional (including, according to media reports, foreign) mercenaries. This is called "restoring constitutional (!) Order" and "combating separatism" (albeit with historical Ukrainians themselves are separatists).
And at the same time - to the promises of some concessions and backroom negotiations. On April 11, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk declared that the Rada should adopt a law on a local referendum and that appropriate changes should be made to the legislation. He also said that changes to the constitution should be adopted before 25 in May, stressed that Kiev intends to balance power between the center of Ukraine and the regions, and also promised the citizens of the country the opportunity to speak their usual language, including Russian.
Will the protest movement be finally suppressed - by force or through such promises and half-hearted "compromises" (from which the Ukrainian "authorities" will immediately refuse, only the situation will allow)? The probability of this is high, given that the Kiev "authorities" and the militants feel behind their backs the powerful support of the United States and its allies. And Donetsk residents, Kharkiv residents, Odessa citizens (unlike Crimeans) have to rely on themselves - after all, the Russian leadership reacted coolly to the local initiative, continuing to insist on the need for federalization of Ukraine.
A number of media outlets tried not to focus on the demands of the protesters. They talked about movement as about ... "antimaydannom" (an obvious anachronism), reducing it only to the desire of people who want to live in a single country - Ukraine and "be heard by the Kiev authorities." The emerging feeling is such that the people again humbly ask. And about federalization - as the only way to preserve Ukraine (although no one bothered to explain why it should be artificially preserved, especially in the current borders).
And yet, people can not win. And the movement in the Donbas, Kharkiv region, in Novorossia (as in the Crimea) is truly popular. It's only the beginning. The main thing took place: the republics were proclaimed. It was publicly said that the question of reunification with Russia could be raised at regional referendums (as in the Crimea).
The Russian leadership sees a way out of the political crisis in Ukraine in constitutional reform, the main component of which is the federalization of the country. The need to introduce a federal structure, Putin said in his speech on the occasion of the reunification of the Crimea with Russia. After that, the idea was picked up by others. On the need to hold referendums in the regions of Ukraine on their status (as part of Ukraine) and its transformation into a federal state, providing the Russian language with equal status with Ukrainian (where it is desired) and the right of the regions to independently determine national, cultural and economic policies, the Russian side says at the talks with the current owners of the situation in Ukraine - the United States.
But is federalization real, as is this constitutional reform itself? Will it put an end to the crisis? Can you satisfy the interests of all Ukrainians and at the same time save her as a country?
By "federalization" everyone understands what he wants. For residents of Donbass, Kharkiv, Novorossia, federalization is a synonym for autonomy, the creation of autonomous republics / republics that have practically unlimited rights and sovereignty and are in closest relations with Russia (such should be minimal with Kiev), or generally follow the path of Crimea. The Ukrainian "authorities" by "the extension of the rights of the regions" mean insignificant delegation of economic and administrative powers from Kiev to the localities (including not appointment, but elections of heads of administrations). The Russian side in federalization sees precisely that federal relations (albeit broad in the national-cultural, administrative and budgetary spheres) - while preserving the integrity of Ukraine.
In theory, everything appears smooth and gracious. Regions hold referendums. Ukraine becomes a federal state in which national, linguistic, cultural and socio-economic policies are carried out by the regions, and Kiev remains under common prerogatives: foreign policy, defense, etc. Ukraine is becoming a non-aligned state. The threat of joining NATO, capitulation to the EU (Euro-Association) and Ukrainian nationalism has been eliminated. The rights and interests of all residents of the country are respected, and agreement prevails in society.
Handsomely. But impracticable. The federation will not solve the problems that it is supposed to solve. Federation in Ukraine will not. And if it does, then there will be no "Ukraine".
Federation - mission impossible?
Let's start with the fact that she will not be allowed to appear. It will not allow referendums to take place - unless these referendums are held by the will of the residents themselves, without the consent of the Kiev “authorities” (as in the Crimea). But in this case, talking about "federalization" as an end in itself and preserving Ukraine in its current borders will simply be meaningless, and another question will be put up for these referendums - about reunification with Russia.
They will not be allowed to spend, because the pro-Western “power” (“politicians” and “owners of life” are oligarchs), the Ukrainian nationalists, and the citizens of central and western Ukraine zombied against the very idea of the referendum and the federation areas. This is interpreted and perceived as "separatism" and as the intervention of Russia, which through these areas will control the whole of Ukraine.
First, it undermines their political, economic and ideological power, their position as an "elite", their management methods and economic basis - after all, the main national product is created in the South and Southeast. These same regions are the most important in a strategic sense, and without them, Ukraine is turning into a geopolitical inferior entity. The federalization, in which the regions (South and Southeast) will have significant rights in the socio-economic and national-cultural areas, deprives the central authority of governing and distribution functions. The capital also loses its economic and financial base - there will be nothing and no one to feed the subsidized West and the Center.
Secondly, this idea undermines the foundations of Ukraine’s foundation as an independent state and historical phenomenon — the Ukrainian national project itself, claiming the whole of this territory as “its own”, and its people - as “Ukrainians” or as people who need to be done "Ukrainians". To make Russian a state language, to allow the free existence of Russian culture and historical memory, different from those on which the Ukrainian national project is based, and "Ukraine" as its political embodiment, means the failure of this project and the collapse of the ideology of its followers.
And the national, ideological factor is very important. But he is overlooked by fans of the idea of federalization (that is, the preservation of Ukraine - in a slightly modified form, but not affecting its foundations). For two decades, the Ukrainian idea (or, in other words, Ukrainian nationalism in its various forms and degrees of radicalism) has been made the basis of the worldview of millions of Ukrainian citizens. Especially in the West of the country and, less so, in the central regions and Russian-speaking Kiev, and among the groups serving the Ukrainian statehood, settled in other regions (the apparatus, humanitarian intelligentsia, journalists, "grant-eaters", etc.), even if they are outcasts.
For the Ukrainian system of cultural and national values, there is another social group that can be called liberal-Westernist (regardless of the language that people prefer to speak). They are supporters of the very "European choice", they consider Ukraine "Europe", and therefore they treat Russia coldly and hostilely - as a foreign country, alien to the historical path and way of life. The ideology offered by the Ukrainian idea is, for them, a guarantee of the pro-Western course, a guarantee that "Ukraine" will be "not Russia". This ideology is the most dangerous (more dangerous than Ukrainian nationalism as such), and together with the latter it forms the ideological basis of the current Russophobia.
That is why these people will oppose constitutional reform with all their might. Any statements that give and will be given by representatives of the Ukrainian "authority" about granting rights to the regions and about readiness for reforms are nothing more than maneuvering and deception. As they say, to promise is not to marry.
Third, the United States and its allies are opposed to federalization — for them it will mean, if not a loss of control over all of Ukraine or its part, then certainly unnecessary difficulties. Ukraine is a matter of principle for them. If the Americans go to any agreements with the Russian side (which, if desired, can be treated as concessions), they will only be temporary and tactical.
But suppose that through Russian-American negotiations (and it is here, the fate of Ukraine, which the pro-Western lobby and nationalists have transformed from a subject of world politics into an object) is decided, will succeed in achieving a US agreement on the federalization of Ukraine. And they will tell their puppets how to act. Then the elections (scheduled for May 25) must pass simultaneously with or after the referendums. Will it be done?
Yatsenyuk and Turchinov made it clear what will happen. But it is hard to believe in it, even if one considers that Kiev has a Crimean example in front of its eyes and is forced to reckon with Russia, and beware of the temptation to forcefully suppress the protesting people. To arrange referendums after the elections will no longer be necessary: the power will become "legal." And negotiations on their conduct can last forever - the Kiev authorities will not agree to them.
If Kiev "authorities" and their curators agree on holding referendums and constitutional reform, their content will be emasculated. What questions will be submitted to a referendum and who will formulate them? Kiev "authorities" and their proteges in the field. And the size of the independence of the regions (of course, within the framework of Ukraine - there will be no talk of any way out of it) will be maximized.
But suddenly they took place. How will the West and Center vote with Kiev? They will not support the idea of federalization - after all, it will hit their interests and ambitions (economic, ideological, powerful). And it turns out that some areas are for keeping Ukraine as they were, and others for their special status. And those who are against federalization - the majority - in terms of the number of regions, and quantitatively (there is no longer any Crimea). Some will try to proceed to constitutional reform, others will sabotage and sabotage it. Will such referendums be valid and will their results be recognized? Indeed, in this case, they again denote the actual collapse of the country.
And there is another option that transatlantic puppeteers can use, who are not going to make concessions to Russia, but who want to do everything by proxy. The “rotten liberal government” that has succumbed to the pressure of Moscow is replaced by the forces of the “champions of Ukrainian independence” - the Right Sector and their associates. After all, the "militants" and "liberals" are parts of one whole, they are controlled by the same forces and set in motion as needed, supporting and shading each other, but outwardly maintaining "independence" and even sometimes joining each other "conflict". If, all of a sudden, referendums are held, and Ukraine is federalized, the system - for the reasons stated above - will not be viable. Will the state, torn by the ideas of revanchism, mutual hatred and nowhere contradictions, be able to function independently as such?
Either everything will remain as it is (or almost as it is) - that is, the federative South and East will continue to allocate significant capital to the capital for the maintenance of both "general state needs" and the West with the Center who will hate the "separatist schidnies", but at the same time live at their expense and administratively and ideologically rule the country). Either they will pay almost nothing to the federal budget, but this will lead to a financial, economic and social crisis and collapse — first of all subsidized areas, and then the country itself. And to its collapse. Or turning into a buffer state divided into spheres of influence, and the capital (and formally the whole country) will be controlled not by Russia, but by the West. That is, again decay.
Who will rule in Kiev (and therefore the whole country) - there is no doubt. These will not be people friendly to Russia. And it is logical that the constant factor in such a federal state will be the struggle of Kiev (and the United States behind it with its allies) with the South and the East for the reduction or elimination of their regional powers. Power and initiative are on their side. And this means a permanent crisis: with parliamentary stupors, Maidan, coups, hidden terror. Moreover, even in a federalized Ukraine, power and foreign policy functions will remain with Kiev (what is their ideological basis to guess easily, and is it possible under such conditions the existence of a nationwide army and police?). And with the intervention of the West - and therefore, Russia. The crisis has no prospects for termination and ways to resolve.
"Old Rake": USSR-2
Thus, federation is impossible and non-viable. Ukraine has collapsed, and it is pointless to save it. If someone seriously believes that he can control all of Ukraine and keep it in the field of Russian influence and the orbit of the Customs Union, then these are naive dreams. Pro-Russian (not to mention "all-Russian"), its west and center will not become anyway, especially after, as they call it, "the Russian occupation of the Crimea." For this, decades have been missed, in which the central government (then Soviet) preferred to engage in the creation of new nations and their states by splitting the all-Russian national and political space. Not to mention two decades of separatism. The political process and the national sphere is the field of activity of mythology. Myths do not disappear. For example, such as "Ukraine is a European nation and country" and "West is a paradise on earth", "West will help us." It is these myths (part of the Ukrainian idea) that will continue to determine the consciousness of millions of people in Ukraine who do not want friendship and close ties with "aggressive Asian and culturally and ethnically alien to Russia". Interested internal and external forces will try to make these myths spread even more. And the Western "carrot" (even non-existent) for such people will always be sweeter and more attractive than the Russian - even the most realistic.
Why, despite the obvious, continue to cling to the unity of Ukraine? Someone does not accept decay, even realizing its inevitability. Others do not want to give a part of the Russian world (first of all, Kiev and the Center) or simply the geopolitical space of Ukraine into the hands of euro lobbyists, nationalists and the USA, believing that it is necessary to fight for it all. But the main reason is different.
Obviously, the Russian leadership continues to think in categories not of Russia, but of a certain "USSR-2", which would include certain republics of the former USSR (including Central Asia and its population). Of course, not on those conditions, but remaining independent sovereign states - in the form of one or another "Eurasian" integration scheme. And Ukraine is among them. For this, it needs everything, not its parts, who feel that they are Russia and would be included in its composition directly. Through these regions, one can try to exercise influence over the entire federal Ukraine. And to counteract the attraction of its other parts into the orbit of the United States and Co.
The idea is sensible, but ... They don’t care that Ukraine is originally and permanently anti-Russian project. They believe that anti-Russianness is something insignificant, and they will be able to neutralize it - for example, requesting radical manifestations ("Bandera"). Here you can see the same approaches and methods as when the USSR was: “Ukrainianness” and “Ukraine” - this is good and right (if it is “Soviet”, “international”), but Ukrainian nationalism is bad, because it is ” the enemy of the workers "and" friendship of nations. " Exactly the same approach to the struggle for "the sympathy of the people of Ukraine" is inherent in the Russian authorities. Although it is clear that without a real struggle for the consciousness and national choice of people, without countering the Ukrainian project by affirming the all-Russian idea (and its Russianness as a part), this “neo-Soviet-Ukrainian” activity will eventually be zero.
And, as in Soviet times, the Donbass and Novorossiya were given to Ukraine in order to retain and ideologically educate "peasant Ukraine" with the help of their working class, and now these regions have a similar task: to keep the anti-Russian and pro-Western parts of the country. For this, we need a bankrupt construction - "Ukraine", which includes Novorossia, Donbass, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk. But in the old bottles do not pour new wine.
Soviet policy failed. The USSR collapsed (because it was a “union of republics”, not “Russia”), the regions turned out to be “Ukraine”, the West retained its attractiveness, and it was unrealistic to defeat Ukrainian nationalism with those methods (without abandoning the Ukrainian idea itself). The same will happen now.
Managing Ukraine through the support to the south and east (especially without the Crimea) is an unrealizable idea. For this influence will focus either on these regions themselves (if the center allows), or they will evaporate as the central authorities strengthen and the inevitable attraction of these regions ’elites into the general Ukrainian context - where they will always be strangers if they don’t embark on the" Ukrainian "political national and ideological position.
And what will it be for the "elite"? Were people from the “Party of Regions” (like Sergey Tigipko or Oleg Tsaryov, characteristic of the Ukrainian establishment, not at all “pro-Russian”, but rather euro-oriented and Ukrainian-centric figures)? Or such figures as the mayor of Kharkov, Gennady Kernes, and the former head of the Kharkiv regional administration, Mikhail Dobkin, who merged the oppositional “Maydan” movement, who frustrated the formation of the “Ukrainian Front” and ran over to the side of the Kiev “authorities”? There is no need. And even more so it is not worth remembering about Yanukovych in connection with binding to potential "subjects of the federation". The regions should lead the new - national and truly pro-Russian leaders, who will not dissolve in the Ukrainian "political elite".
The only thing that a federation can do is to become a way of legal consolidation of what has already become a fact - the collapse of Ukraine, for the civilized divorce of the regions. But this path, again, seems unrealistic. And in Moscow, they will prefer to preserve Ukraine (albeit a federal one). After all, Russia should serve the interests of the "USSR-2", and not vice versa. Is it because there is a certain division of spheres of influence between the USA and Russia? And therefore, the situation with respect to continental Ukraine does not resemble the Crimean one? I do not want to believe in it, but you should not reject such an option.
May 25 elections will be held, and the power will be "legitimate." Their results are recognized - and not because the pro-Russian candidate wins. There are none. They cannot appear - not only in the current conditions, but in general - under the Ukrainian project this is impossible by definition. Participation in the elections of "candidates from the south-east" is explained (besides their personal ambitions and interests of the groups that nominated them) by the need for election organizers to give them legitimacy and to attract people to the polling stations. The West and the Center will come to the polls in the majority. For residents of eight regions along the Kharkov-Dnepropetrovsk-Odessa arc, ignoring the election will be the best way out. But if they are held simultaneously with the referendums, it will automatically mean Russia's recognition of the May 25 election. And with them and everything that happened in Ukraine, starting with the winter of the 2014 year. This will be a “price to pay for compromise” and “federalization” - no matter how large the regions receive their new powers.
Everything is very similar to the situation of the end of the XVIII century with the so-called "sections of the Commonwealth". Then Russia, to the last (and to the last section), tried to preserve all of it in its sphere of influence, and also as a buffer state on the borders with Prussia and Austria — the initiators of the divisions. But the West and the Polish Russophobes did everything to prevent such Russian policy from failing. Russia was forced to go into sections. So it will be now. The late federalization project is good in theory, but unrealistic and unviable. And you have to take your own - that which considers itself "Russia" and did not betray the memory of its ancestors. The fact that alone fights for their rights - raising as a symbol of their national choice the Russian flags, not the Ukrainian ones.
And with the games in the "USSR-2" and the preservation of the Russophobic project "Ukraine" it is time to stop. We must take care of Russia.
Marchukov Andrei Vladislavovich, Senior Researcher, Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences
The article was carried out within the framework of the Basic Research Program of the History Section of the OIFN RAN "Nations and the State in World History", the direction "Problems of Nation-Building and Nationalism". The project "Ukraine at the intersection of identities: the formation of national communities and nation-building (XIX - early XX centuries)", 2012-2014.