Monday, November 29, 2004

THE GHOST OF STALIN

Ukraine held elections in November, and they were seriously flawed. The current Prime Minister claimed to have won, and the opposition took to the streets. It seems like most international commentators agree that the opposition actually won the election. Now the east of the country is going to hold a referendum on its "status" within Ukraine. This is because the east of the country is majority Russian-speaking and has not ever reconciled completely to being Ukranian, rather than Russian.

And so Stalin's ghost continues to stalk the former Soviet Union. Stalin moved Russians into the Baltic, moved various ethnicities within the south of the old USSR, and drew "national" borders that included unreconciled minorities. None of it seemed to matter when the Soviet Union was intact. However, now we have this conflict in Ukraine, the problem of the Kaliningrad exclave, the various ethnic conflicts in Georgia and the Crimea, and the intractable Chechnya problem. Stalin set a time bomb to punish anyone who ever tried to break the USSR into its elements, and we continue to see the reprecussions today.

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