Friday, June 29, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Spy Charges Against Moscow Ethnographer Part of Broader Attack on the West

Paul Goble

Vienna, June 29 – Charges by Russian nationalists that a senior Moscow ethnographer is a Western spy are even more disturbing than they may have first appeared not because these allegations are true but because they are part of a broader effort to drive from Russian public life anyone with close ties to the outside world.
Earlier this month, several extremist Russian nationalist writers charged that Valeriy Tishkov, the director of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, was spying for the West by means of his EAWARN research group, charges for which they adduced no real evidence and which naturally Tishkov denied.
Because these charges were so absurd, most people dismissed them as the latest example of the often-overheated world of marginal groups of extreme Russian nationalists, people whose stock in trade seems to consist of little more than attacking in the most virulent way groups and individuals they do not like.
But new article by one of those who originally leveled the charges against Tishkov suggests that this action may be even more menacing because it appears to be part of a carefully orchestrated plan to demonize and thus isolate any Russian with Western contacts and ideas ({4B99A899-B6FD-461A-A4BD-F23BFC2F6E22}&data=).
Aleksandr Dugin, the leader of the Eurasian Movement, spent little time repeating his earlier charges of espionage but instead focused his attention on what he said is the new reality in Russia, one in which there is no longer a place for “the architects of perestroika,” “ideologues of the Yeltsin system,” and “Western liberals.”
Three aspects of Dugin’s newest article merit attention. First, the Eurasian leader carefully soft-pedaled his earlier espionage charges, an indication perhaps that he and those behind him recognize that he and they had gone too far in charging someone who has lived his life on public view with espionage.
Second, Dugin dismissed Tishkov and others of the Western liberal tradition as “rootless” people, a term with disturbing resonance for those who remember the late Stalinist period. Moreover, the Eurasianist continued, Tishkov’s ideas about constructed identity are simply wrong.
Dugin almost certainly said this because Tishkov in his initial response to the earlier charges pointedly suggested that Dugin was making the charges against him out of spite because the ethnographer had criticized Dugin’s work on Lev Gulmilyev and Eurasianism.
And third, Dugin said that Tishkov could nonetheless remain head of an academic institution and even express his noxious views in the media. But Tishkov’s continued presence in the Social Chamber is, in Dugin’s words, “if not impermissible then at the very least an anachronism.”
Indeed, he continued, having Tishkov there in a position where he can influence policy is almost the same thing as having Berezovskiy as deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council or Chubais and Gaidar as members of the government, something he said “in Putin’s Russia is a nonsense.”
“Tishkov is an anomaly,” Dugin concluded, and that is why the ethnographer is struggling against the current, against President Putin’s efforts to transform Russia into a genuinely independent country rather than one subject to the dictates of Western governments and ideologies.
For many people in the Russian Federation and the West, this latest article may appear more “reasonable” and “respectable” than were the baseless espionage charges, but in fact, it is far more disturbing because it is far more carefully calibrated and because it is directed against more people.
Indeed, Dugin clearly demonstrates that he is moving with the broader current of political life under Putin, a current that he welcomes but that other more powerful people seem set to exploit to ensure that there will not be any place in Russian public life for Tishkov or anyone else with Western contacts or an independent mind.

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