Rinalds Gulbis: Latvians Who Occupied Russia


30.08.2012.  www.delfi.lv

This August 27, in the conference hall of Tallink Hotel, the political scientist, economist and writer Nikolai Starikov made his presentation. The event, attended by the State Controller Inguna Sudraba, Alexnder Gaponenko, “Harmony Center” activist Rinalds Bushkovs, as well as journalist Andrei Mamikin and popular Russian journalists, had a really large audience who were obviously interested in N.Starikov’s address and answers to questions.

The US – sponsor of the world radical nationalists

Starikov’s main message on that occasion was the created by himself and quite popular theory about universal conspiracy of the Western countries initiated even in early 20th century and continued up to nowadays. Starikov has even written a book on this theme, titled “Russia’s Main Enemy. All Evil Comes from the West”. However, some other ideas offered by Starikov, were more attractive for the audience, such as “Why EU is foredoomed to failure” and “Who is sponsoring the nationalists of all countries”. I shall return to the first theme a little later, but the question “who is the sponsor of all countries’ nationalists” was answered by Starikov as follows: they are surely the US and Great Britain, sometimes also France. Because, according to him, they are these three countries that have inspired the current unrest in the Middle East, with the aim to improve their own poor financial situation. Thereby Starikov has concluded that the Western countries, while sponsoring nationalists on the global scale, do not allow peace anywhere in the world. Also NATO, according to Starikov, continues to exist just because of economic considerations, for, after the collapse of Warsaw Pact block, there is no moral grounds anymore for NATO to exist at all. Starikov himself, as the conspiracy theoretician who is looking for the universal conspiracy motives and actors, has been described by a number of the popular in Russia persons. For example, one of the Russian opposition leaders Alexei Navalny has said the following about Starikov: “I cannot disallow all the writers, poets or average citizens to live in their conspiracy theories. If a person wishes to think about the third force – CIA, aliens or somebody else – let him think that way”.

Starikov’s historical truth

Starikov often calls himself as historian, although, as it is known, in 1992 he graduated from a higher school as economist in chemical industry. However, it does not prevent Starikov from proposing the ideas which can be considered as obvious falsifying of historical facts or simply the conspiracy theories presented by Starikov as historically actual facts. He denies occupation of the Baltic countries explaining his opinion by the assumption that, since Latvians regard the Peace Treaty of 1920 as legal, then the one signed in 1940 should be also regarded as legal. By that Starikov probably means the ultimatum delivered by the USSR to Latvia on June 16, 1940. Starikov also indicated that in case Latvians insisted on significance of the fact of occupation, Russians, too, would charge Latvians with occupation – Russia, according to him, was occupied by them in 1918 – most probably meaning by that the time when the 6th Tukums Regiment of Latvian Riflemen were guarding the train of Soviet Russia’s Government when in March 10-11, 1918, it moved from Petrograd to Moscow with the following guarding of the Government also in the Kremlin of Moscow.

But the loudest applauds aroused, and urging to continue the initiated case was expressed after Starikov’s statement that Mikhail Gorbachev was the traitor of the people and state and that he had intentionally destroyed the Soviet Union. Presently a group of Moscow lawyers and Starikov himself are trying to achieve renewal of criminal case against Gorbachev brought in 1991, but closed short after that. According to Starikov, Gorbachev is the traitor because he has allowed the collapse of the greatest state ever, and the collapse has indirectly killed several million people, so he has to be regarded also as the mass murderer. Renewal of this case has already been denied by the Court of First Instance, but Starikov promised the enthusiastic audience to proceed to Strasburg in order to force Gorbachev to appear before the court and receive a just punishment.

“Format A-3”, “Impressum” and Russian networks

Lectures, delivered by lecturers similar to Starikov, are organized on regular basis by the club “Format A-3”. In its turn, this club has been set up by Russian television channel “Rossija” and newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. The club, according to its founders, is the twin of the media club “Impressum” established five years ago in Estonia. The club “Impressum” was included in the report of Estonian Security Police (KaPo) as the organization whose objective is to “penetrate the subconsciousness of decision makers thereby forcing them to make their choice and decisions in the favour of Russia”. The fact is of interest that both “Impressum” and “Format A-3” have similar membership, besides, Estonian political scientist Juhan Kivirähk indicates that the club “Impressum” have close links with the Alexander Dyukov’s organization “Historical Memory”. The “Impressum” board member Galina Sapoznikova is simultaneously also head of “Format A-3” and journalist of the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, she has been included by KaPo in the list of persons disloyal to the state of Estonia who use the media trying to influence the public opinion in Estonia.

It should be mentioned, though, that the media club “Format A-3” is operating intensively not only in Latvia, presently it is much more active in Moldova and the Crimea. According to Moldovan policy researchers, the club organizes such events in Moldova which have a direct impact on the opinion leaders, urging them to refuse a closer cooperation with European Union, NATO, as well as drop Moldova’s plans to rejoin Rumania some day. The club has also initiated publication of books on Moldova’s history describing a specific Moldovan ethnos which, according to the authors, differs considerably from Rumanians, besides; they state that it is rather Slavic. “Format A-3” is operating especially intensively in Moldova’s autonomous region of Gagauzia. This region claims more independence within Moldova or even a full self-determination, and these initiatives are supported also by a number of Russian politicians and mass media such as information agency “Regnum” once headed by Modest Kolerov.

It should be stressed that even in 2009 the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Russia had to support the mass media in the foreign countries, and since that statement various Russian media activities have been carried out in all the former USSR member states, not only in the Baltic countries.

The fact is significant that Russia realizes its interests abroad, including influencing the public opinion, not only through various non-governmental organizations, but also with the help of Russian federal agencies and foundations such as “Rossotrudnichestvo” (Россотрудничество), foundation “Russkiy Mir” (Русский мир), movement “International Russia”, anti-Fascist association of organizations “World without Nazism”, A.Dyukov’s centre “Historical Memory” and historian Natalia Narochnitskaya’s research centre “Historical Perspective”. All the above mentioned foundations and federal agencies have a broad network of subsidiaries and cooperation partners implementing specific projects sponsored by the state of Russia. The aforementioned meeting with Nikolai Starikov in Latvia was also organized by the media club’s “Format A-3” cooperation partner in Latvia – newspaper “Subbota”.

The main objective of all these organizations is to discredit national countries, stressing that such states as Estonia or Latvia cannot exist – Nazism revives, and human rights are violated there. However, two other goals are much more harmful: stimulation of nostalgic sentiments towards the period of the former USSR and much closer Latvia’s integration and cooperation with Russia, creating a mythical image of Russia as the land of well-being and prosperity. These organizations are “educating” the audiences which are easier to manipulate – young persons and elder people, as well as specific groups capable of influencing on a broader scale the public opinion – opinion leaders, academic circles and the media representatives.

Discrediting of European Union is the most obvious objective of the club “Format A-3”, this is the issue discussed by practically all the invited experts during the events in Moldova, in the Crimea and also at the recent meeting in Riga.