Review period: November 16-30, 2022
In 2022, we should consider the developments in the post-Soviet countries in the light of the ongoing Russian military aggression in Ukraine. The decisions of these countries are also dictated by Russia's military aggression. The 62th publication reviews important and/or interesting events in post-Soviet countries which are directly related to Russia’s war against Ukraine.
See also the 50th publication which reviews the developments from February 21 to March 3, the 51st publication which recounts Moldova’s response, the 52nd publication which covers the response of the Central Asian countries, the 53rd publication – about the response of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the 54th publication about the key messages of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the Russian military aggression and the 55th publication about the response of Belarus to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
CSTO Fiasco in Yerevan
Main Event: On November 23, 2022, a summit of the leaders of the CSTO member states was held in Yerevan. On the same day, the one-year term of Armenia's chairmanship in the organization ended.
[The CSTO is a military alliance which unites Russia's allies in the post-Soviet space - Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan].
Event in Details: The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, openly expressed his displeasure with the CSTO’s decisions where the organization failed to protect the allied country in the military conflict with Azerbaijan. Mr. Pashinyan questioned the CSTO’s effectiveness.
In the second Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2022, Armenia was defeated and lost a large part of territories occupied during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. According to Armenia, it has experienced aggression from the Azerbaijani side at least three times in the last two years. The situation is aggravated by the fact that CSTO members could not stop Azerbaijan's aggressive actions and the organization fails to reach a common decision on the subject. The border conflict was particularly severe in September and claimed the lives of 200 soldiers. Armenia appealed to the CSTO for support during the September standoff; however, it received only a promise to send observers while the organization made a snap decision to dispatch a military unit to Kazakhstan in January.
In his speech, Vladimir Putin acknowledged some of the problems plaguing the CSTO and said that more efforts are needed to bring peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan; however, the Russian President did not specify the problems he was talking about.
CSTO Summit in Yerevan. Source: odkb-csto.org
A compromise was reached on 15 of the 17 decisions; however, an agreement could not be reached on the final document of the summit - its content was unacceptable for Armenia since the CSTO document on providing assistance to Armenia did not contain proposals of the Armenian side. One of Armenia's demands was the final resolution to include a clause through which Azerbaijan would be forced by means of political and diplomatic acts to withdraw its troops from the territory of Armenia to their original positions as of May 11, 2021.
After the CSTO summit, Nikol Pashinyan also met with the Russian President in a bilateral format.
On November 22, representatives of civil society and the pro-Western opposition held a protest rally in Yerevan and demanded the CSTO’s withdrawal from Armenia. The demonstration had an anti-Russian character. Russia and the CSTO’s inaction in the confrontation with Azerbaijan strengthened anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia.
Why the Event is Important: The CSTO summit in Yerevan proved once again that the military alliance is powerless to protect Armenia's interests and oppose Azerbaijan in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The widespread perception that CSTO members see themselves more as allies of Azerbaijan is being revealed during every crisis or at organization summits which ultimately damages the CSTO’s reputation as a military alliance both within the organization and globally.
Kazakhstan’s Newly Elected President Visits Moscow
Main Event: On November 28, 2022, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, paid his first official visit to Moscow and met with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
Meeting Between the Presidents. Source: akorda.kz
Event in Details: This is Kassym Jomart Tokayev’s first official visit outside the country after winning the snap presidential elections on November 20. During the visit, Mr. Tokayev also met with the Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin. The Presidents of the two countries participated in the video conference, entitled XVIII Forum of Interregional Cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan, which was held in Orenburg.
As Kassym Jomart Tokayev stated, Kazakhstan remains Russia's main strategic partner. His choice to come to Moscow on the first official visit is symbolic and the ties between the two countries remain as strong as ever. According to Vladimir Putin, the relations between the two countries have a “special character” and they should strengthen economic ties, especially amid the international trade crisis.
Vladimir Putin also put forward the idea of establishing a “gas union” with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan which would create a gas transportation mechanism between the three countries and with other states, including China. Ruslan Zheldibay, the Kazakh President’s spokesman, confirmed that the parties believe that detailed negotiations between experts are necessary to find a rational solution to the aforementioned problem.
Within the framework of the official visit, Vladimir Putin and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also signed a declaration in connection with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries.
According to media reports, Ukraine was not the main topic of talks between the Presidents. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev did not mention the issue of Ukraine in his inaugural speech which took place on November 26. Reportedly, the President of Kazakhstan refrains from making statements supporting Russia's military aggression in Ukraine. In official statements leaders of Kazakhstan have always emphasized their support for the territorial integrity of countries.
It is interesting that after the visit to Moscow, the Kazakh President paid an official visit to France on November 29-30.
Why the Event is Important: Although Kassym-Jomart Tokayev does not share Putin's views on Ukraine, the relations with Moscow are critically important for Kazakhstan since the countries have the longest land border in the world and Russia is Kazakhstan's main trade partner. Mr. Tokayev’s first official visit to Moscow as president-elect indicates that Kazakhstan is trying to balance its foreign policy which does not support Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine; however, there are also efforts to maintain a certain degree of cooperation with the Kremlin.
Monument to Catherine II to be Dismantled in Odesa
Main Event: On November 24, 2022, the Executive Committee of Odesa supported a decision to dismantle and relocate a monument to the Founders of Odessa whose central figure is a statue of the Russian Empress Catherine II.
Event in Details: The Executive Committee of the Odesa City Council unanimously supported the decision to dismantle the monument and relocate it. The committee also supported the dismantling of a monument to the Russian General Alexander Suvorov.
The decision was preceded by an online survey on the monument dismantle which the city authorities conducted in October. On November 6, a wooden fence was put around the monument.
Dismantling of the Monument to Catherine II. Source: union.net
In 2007, Catherine’s Square was restored in Odesa. During the restoration, the monument to the Founders of Odesa was erected on the square which is a copy of the monument dismantled by the Bolsheviks in 1925.
In addition, the Kharkiv City Council reported on November 9 that the bust of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was dismantled in Kharkiv, Ukraine. In April, a monument to Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov was dismantled in Kharkiv. In August and October alone, more than 130 streets and squares in Kyiv, whose names were associated with Russia or the Soviet Union, were renamed. A similar trend can be observed in other cities of Ukraine.
Why the Event is Important: Before Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, Kharkiv and Odesa were one of the most pro-Russian cities populated mostly by Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Moscow's military aggression has changed the mood not only in central and western Ukraine but also in Ukrainian regions which were pro-Russian before the war. This indicates the defeat of the policy aimed at creating a Russian world in Ukraine.
Parliament of Moldova Recognized the Holodomor
Main Event: On November 24, 2022, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a declaration recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.
Event in Details: According to the declaration, the man-made and pre-planned famine in Ukraine was aimed at the physical destruction of opponents of the communist regime. The declaration was supported by 54 MPs of the pro-Western Party of Action and Solidarity. MPs of the pro-Russian Bloc of Communists and Socialists left the session.
In addition to Moldova, the Senate of Ireland also adopted a resolution recognizing the famine of 1932-1933 as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. On November 30, the German Bundestag also recognized the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.
The events of 1932-1933 are officially recognized as genocide in Ukraine. According to the data of the Ukrainian History Institute, the Holodomor took lives of four million people in Soviet Ukraine alone. Ukraine marks the Day of Remembrance to the Victims of the Holodomor in November.
Why the Event is Important: The Kremlin sees the recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide and an act against Ukrainians as an anti-Russian decision aimed at rewriting history and blaming the Soviet/Russian state.
SBU Raids Monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate
Main Event: On November 22, 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) conducted “counter-intelligence measures” in several monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, including in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.
Event in Details: According to the SBU, the “counter-intelligence measures” were aimed at revealing “subversive activities” of the Russian Special Services. There is an increased risk of attack, sabotage and hostage-taking in places where large groups of people gather. The purpose of conducting a search in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is to prevent Russian spies from using the territory of the monastery for sabotage and reconnaissance, as well as for storing weapons.
“Counter-Intelligence Measures” in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Source: Image from Telegram Channel
Other Pro-Russian Activities
On November 15, another investigation was launched into the performance of a pro-Russian song by parishioners during a religious ritual in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on November 12.
On November 18, the Ukrainian Special Services revealed new facts of subversive activities of a diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, in the Vinnytsia region. According to the investigation, the head of the diocese prepared propaganda materials justifying Russia's military aggression and occupation of the southern and southeastern regions of Ukraine. In the propaganda materials, the cleric called for the seizure of power and the change of Ukraine's borders.
The Chairman of the Synod Department for Society and Mass Media Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vladimir Legoyda, called the events held in the monasteries an act of intimidation and called on everyone to make maximum efforts to stop the persecution of believers.
Why the Event is Important: The Russian Church and its Head, Patriarch Kirill, overtly support the Kremlin's military aggression in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is under the influence of the Russian Patriarchate, is a tool of Moscow's foreign policy which the Kremlin tries to use for its political purposes. Such measures of the SBU are aimed at preventing hostile actions of the clergy under the influence of Russia in the conditions of war.
Russia Creates its Own Narratives about the History of the Black Sea Region
Main Event: On November 15, 2022, the Russian Historical Society hosted a round table entitled the History of the Russian Black Sea Coastal Region: Involvement of New Entities and Friendly States of the Russian Federation in the Process of Developing a Unified Historical Space.
Event in Details: The event was organized by the Youth Club of the Russian Historical Society. Club members and representatives of the Russia-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed People’s Republics, the Zaporizhzhia region and Abkhazia participated in the round table.
According to the Chairman of the Russian Historical Society, Konstantin Mogilevsky, the society has offices in the occupied Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Melitopol and Mariupol. As he said, the task of the offices is to assist their colleagues from the occupied regions to integrate into the scientific and public life of Russia as soon as possible.
Conference. Source: rublev-museum.ru
Konstantin Mogilevsky also spoke about the plans to open a society office in the occupied Abkhazia. According to him, consultations have already been held on this issue.
Milana Bzhania, the Advisor to the Minister of Culture of the de facto republic of Abkhazia who is also an employee of the Abkhaz Institute of Humanitarian Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the de facto Republic of Abkhazia and a teacher at the “State” University of Abkhazia, delivered a speech at the event.
Several reports were read at the event. These included “The Genesis of the Inclusion of the Black Sea and Azov Regions in the Historical and Cultural Space of Russia” and “Donbass as Part of the Russian World: History and Modernity.” Representatives of the Abkhaz delegation talked about the ways of development of historical science in the de facto republic of Abkhazia and the role of young people in the formation of historical awareness.
Why the Event is Important: Russia is trying to shape and develop its own historical narratives. In this regard, one of the priorities is the formation of such a historical narrative about the Black Sea coastal region which will contribute to the development of the Russian vision of history in the occupied regions of Ukraine and Georgia. At this point, when Russia has occupied a large part of the Black Sea coastal part of Ukraine and Georgia, the existence of appropriate historical narratives legitimizing the occupation/annexation is important for Moscow.
Moscow Hosts the 10th Conference - Russia. Georgia. Christian East. Spiritual and Cultural Relations
Main Event: On November 16-17, 2022, Moscow hosted the conference - Russia. Georgia. Christian East. Spiritual and Cultural Relations.
Event in Details: The conference was held at the Andrei Rublev Central Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and Art. The 10th annual scientific conference was dedicated to the memory of Davit Arsenishvili who was the organizer and first director of the museum. Metropolitan Nikoloz of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo and Kari also took part in the conference.
The conference program included reports on the study of the Christian culture of Russia, Georgia, Syria and Ethiopia. The conference also discussed the activities of prominent figures of the Georgian Church in Russia.
Why the Event is Important: For Russia, religion is a foreign policy “soft power” tool which the Kremlin uses to strengthen its influence over Orthodox states and to demonstrate religious unity among these countries.