Georgian parliamentary elections and geopolitical situation in Caucasus. Interview with WAKHTANG MAISAIA

rozm. Aleksandra Gryźlak

[interview originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 10, grudzień 2016, ss. 73-82]

(…) Georgian society is not anti-Russian, but definitely anti-Kremlin. Sentiments against Vladimir Putin and his policies are very strong in Georgia. This was expressed in the recent elections – parties which expressed pro-Russian views and arguments lost, and gained very small numbers of votes. Examples of this trend are parties like, Industry Will Save Georgia or United Democrats. All parties in the new parliament refl ect a very pro-Western vision of the future of Georgia, including the Alliance of Georgian Patriots. The only exception is the one future member elected in constituency representing the Industry Will Save Georgia party. Despite some irritation with the slow process of NATO and EU integration, in all polls, Georgian society continues to express its willingness to join both organizations. Russia failed with its so-called “soft power” in Georgia. The Russia-sponsored think-tanks and media propaganda all failed. Now the Kremlin is conducting more “hard power” projects.


How to Make Sense of the Donbas in the Russian-Ukrainian Confl ict in the 21st Century

Hiroaki Kuromiya

[text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 9, lipiec 2016, ss. 11-22]

The war Russia unleashed against Ukraine in the spring of 2014, which continues to this day, has brought the Donbas in Ukraine to the attention of the entire world. The ongoing war is being fought almost entirely in the Donbas, an industrial centre of coal and steel, and the fortress of allegedly pro-Russian separatists, producing thousands of casualties, both military and civilian. Unlike Crimea, the Donbas, or the Donetsk Basin, has never been a household name in any country outside the former Soviet Union. The fact that little is known about the Donbas and its past makes it difficult for outsiders to comprehend the present situation, let alone to place it within the wider historical context of Ukraine and Russia. To make matters worse, Moscow’s overwhelming propaganda machine has capitalized on this ignorance to distort the historical and political background of the present war in the Donbas.
This essay addresses the issue of the historical identities of the Donbas and seeks to provide a framework to understand the present war in the Donbas.


Russian Propaganda and „Soft Power” in Georgia

Dimitri Avaliani

[text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 9, lipiec 2016, ss. 59-63]

The Russian government does not hide that its main goal is to restore its influence in the former Soviet republics and prevent them from integrating into European structures. In an attempt to achieve this objective, Russia is using all available means, including hard power – the direct military invasions of Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014) – as well as “soft power”.
In this struggle, information is Russia’s most effective tool. Moscow started the information war against Georgia a long time ago – when Georgia regained independence in 1991. Since then, Moscow has been trying to turn Georgian public opinion in favour of the Kremlin. Putin’s efforts have intensified dramatically during the last few years.


Zapis dyskusji „Russian Neo-imperialism. A Myth or a Threat?”

Adam Balcer, Roman Backer, Mikołaj Iwanow, Paweł Kowal, Andrew Nagorski

[niniejszy tekst pierwotnie opublikowany został w: 
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 8, październik 2015, ss. 13-34]

Dyskusja odbyła się 12 lipca 2015 roku, na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim, jako część XII dorocznej konferencji Warsaw East European Conference 2015 „Russia and its Neighbors” zorganizowanej przez Studium Europy Wschodniej UW. Dyskusję moderował Adam Balcer.


The Gordian Knot: Crimean Tatar-Russian Relations after the Annexation of Crimea

Justyna Prus, Konrad Zasztowt

[text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 7, kwiecień 2015, ss. 23-37]

On 18 March 2014 Russian Federation annexed Crimea, part of Ukraine, after illegally taking military control of its territory and organising an unrecognized referendum on independence of the region. This article’s goal is to analyse how the annexation and following Russification of the political, social and legal system affected the minority of Crimean Tatars and its relations with Russia. Crimean Tatars, in their majority opposing the annexation and Russian policy, have faced political repressions, civil rights abuses and intimidation. Russian policy towards the minority aims at forcing them to accept the ‘new reality’ without granting them freedom of political activities and right to cultivate their cultural heritage, when it’s inconsistent with Russian policy and ideology. The question of Crimea as de facto part of Russia is treated briefly in this article, while its primary goal is to show the developments and complexity of Crimean Tatar-Russian relations.


Possible Effects of the Ukrainian Revolution for Russia and Belarus – Modern Trends

Liudmyla Datskova

[text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 7, kwiecień 2015, ss. 41-52]

The development of the Ukrainian political situation continues to raise the question of possible similar scenarios in other post-Soviet countries – mainly Belarus and Russia. How do the recent events in Ukraine affect relations between the authorities and society in those countries? Are the societies of those countries ready for changes? What is the level of public support for the current political regimes and political institutions in those countries and what direction of international integration do the societies in Russia and Belarus support?

The continuing and ever-present situation in Ukraine in the last two years has provoked many questions in other countries with a similar political and social situation, as well as a shared past with Ukraine – part of the 20th century Soviet Empire.


Farther Neighbour: A Critical Estimation on Turkish Reception of Ukrainian Revolution and Crimean Crisis

Hasan Aksakal

[tekst pierwotnie opublikowany w://text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 6, październik 2014, ss. 25-35]

Introduction: Ukraine’s and Crimea’s Representation in Turkey
Ukraine, but mostly the peninsula of Crimea and Crimeans have been one of Turkey’s most important sources in social, political, economic and cultural terms. To write briefly about the historical background; Crimea was conquered by Turks in 1475, remained as an autonomous region within the Ottoman Empire for centuries and was the abattoir and granary of Istanbul until 1774. That same commercial-economic flow continued indirectly until 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War after II. Yekaterina annexed the region in 1783. Within these centuries, Crimean Khanate served as a frontier Beylik against the ‘increasing power’ of Russia. Certainly, when one says Ukraine and Crimea, a big number of people and themes come to one’s mind. One of them is Hürrem Sultan (originally; Roxelana, 1500-1558) who was Ottoman Sultan Suleiman The Magnificient’s wife and originally an Orthodox native of Ruthenia. Not only her but tens of Ottoman Valide Sultans and odalisques had been brought from slave bazaars of Ukranian and Crimean lands to Istanbul and reached the highest points in the protocol of Topkapı Imperial Palace. In addition, Ottoman cavalries consisted especially of Crimeans. Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Dynasty always preserved good relations through bonds of matrimony and in case one day the Ottoman Dynasty had not possessed a male heir, according to the agreement, the Khan of Crimea would have acceded to the throne.

Indeed, the power of Turco-Crimean relations is not limited to the facts mentioned above. If we come back to the present time, we come across to many famous names of Crimean origin having existed since the emergence of modern Turkey. Gaspıralı İsmail Bey [Ismail Gasprinsky, 1851-1914] a pioneer of Turkish nationalism who created the motto of Pan-Turkism having written the phrase “Unity in language, in thought, in work” [“Dilde, fi kirde, işte birlik!] continuously on the newspaper that he published, was Crimean. Cafer Seyidahmet Kırımer (1889-1960) and Yusuf Akçura [Yosif Aqcura, 1879-1935], two of the prominent intellectuals of Turkish-Tatar culture, have an important place in the history of Turkish thought. Of the last Ottoman statesmen, Ahmet Tevfik Pasha (1845-1935), the last Ottoman Grand Vizier (prime minister), was a descendant of the ancestry of the Crimean Khanate.

Refik Halit Karay (1888-1965), one of the crucial writers of the modern Turkish literature, came from a family who migrated from Karaim/Karaites’ region. Infl uental Aziz Nesin (1915-1995) and Çetin Altan (b.1927) were the other two Turkish men of letters of Crimean origin. Probably the most important Turkish actor Cüneyt Arkın (b.1937), famous football player İlhan Mansız (b.1975), NBA star basketballer Ersan İlyasova (b.1987) are the sportsmen of Crimean Tatar origin, the latter two having played for Turkish national teams. Famous conservative industrialist Sabri Ülker (1920-2012) is also one of the best-known faces of Crimean Tatars. In addition, there are three scientists of Crimean-Tatar origin who are greatly respected in today’s Turkey. One of the greatest historians alive, Prof. Halil İnalcık (b.1916) teaching in Bilkent University, Prof. Kemal Karpat (b.1924) from department of History at Wisconsin University, and Galatasaray University’s historian Professor İlber Ortaylı (b.1947) have Crimean-Tatarian origins. Especially İlber Ortaylı is probably the most famous and popular intellectual of our times in Turkey. Considering their images combined with the attention paid to Prof. Ahmed İhsan Kırımlı (1920-2011), Prof. Atilla Özkırımlı (1942-2005) and his son; international expert on nationalism studies Prof. Umut Özkırımlı (b.1970), and once again from Bilkent University, historian Prof. Hakan Kırımlı (b.1958) by academic world, the reputation of people of Crimean origin as human resource means very much to Turkey.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that the relations between Turkey and the Tatar-Turkish community living in Crimea are not as in a high level as they should be. For Turkey, Crimea is not more than the personal representation of Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu, The Head of Mejlis of The Crimean Tatar People (Mustafa Abdülcemil oğlu Cemilev (Qırımoğlu), Russian: Мустафа́ Абдулджеми́ль Джеми́лев, Ukrainian: Мустафа́ Абдульджемі́ль Джемі́лєв). Here the paradoxical situation reveals itself: For within Turkey’s population consisting of 77 million people, according to the answers given to surveys, there are 600 thousand to 5 million people who consider themselves Tatar or of Tatar origin.1 These people, who have been inhabited to cities such as Ankara, Eskişehir, Çanakkale, Konya, Bolu and Kastamonu which show similar characteristics to Crimean climate,2 are seen to preserve their tradition and culture through various non-governmental organisations and associations. The most important ones among these societies are Âlem-i Medeniyye (, Bizim Qirim Halgara Cemaat –Bizim Kırım International Organization (, Emel Kırım Vakfı (emelvakfi, Motherland Crimea (, Crimean Tatar Cultural and Mutual Aid Association ( The on-going publication tool of Emel Kırım Derneği (, journal of Emel Dergisi reached at 241 issues, and Kırım Derneği’s journal Kırım Bülteni reached at 76 numbers. A careful intellectual Turk can understand the writings published on the web sites of these organizations as much as he/she understands Azerbaijani language. It is possible to say that members of these organizations practice both Crimean Tatar nationalism and Turkish nationalism with a dualist sense of belonging, as it has been observed in many other emigrant societies. In brief, in spite of such close cultural-political-historical ties, Turkish society’s overall indifference to Ukrainian Crisis and Crimean issue throughout 2014 has been remarkable. The fact that only over a hundred people attended two meetings entitled “Give Voice To Crimea!” held on 2 March 2014 in Ankara and on 8 March 2014, then 20 May 2014 in İstanbul’s most crowded center, İstiklal Avenue is a clear example of this indifference. While only in Ankara and Istanbul thousands of Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian students study at the universities and thousands of Ukrainians live permanently in İstanbul, it is very surprising that almost none of these people participated in the meetings. In this sense, we need to remind that the political agenda of that time was full of the investigation on the alleged malpractices of Erdoğan Government, Syria and ISIS crises and two crucial (local and presidential) elections which were held in 30 March and 10 August.

Views of Ukrainian Revolution From Turkey
The protests that began on 21 November 2013 in Kiev’s Euromaidan Square had the appearance of a peaceful protest against corruption, which had been continuing in Ukraine in acceleration for some time, bureaucrats’ setting up their own cadres in public offices, pressure on media, essential human rights violations, moving away from the European Union membership perspective and Viktor Yanukovych’s increasingly authoritarian traits. This scene would be exactly the same as the one in Turkey if we only changed the date to 30 May 2013, the place to Taksim Square in İstanbul and the leader to Tayyip Erdoğan. Artists like Ruslana became the representatives of the opponent youth on the stage, as it had been the case also in Turkey. Ukrainian people’s principal demands such as social peace, justice and democracy in compliance with Western standards have also been the same as the demands expressed during Gezi protests. However, the difference was that the Yanukovych government acted more patiently than Erdoğan administration; until the crisis began to cause people’s death… Developments were reported in the same way by different flanks of the Turkish media during the very first days. Nevertheless, in the following days, mainstream newspapers and TV channels, which have become completely loyal to Erdoğan government for the last couple of years and which have constituted nearly 75 per cent of the media in Turkey, began to report news giving countenance to Yanukovych with a view to not proving the Gezi protests right. The discourse was aligned with their views during June-July 2013’s Turkey: The phrases such as “Ukrainian marginal groups”, “attempted coup by illegal
organizations”, “a provocation by Western media”, “Soros effect”, “the possibility of a CIA-led operation” were expressed several times by Pro-AKP (Erdoğan’s Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi/Justice and Development Party) commentators on the subject of Ukraine. In fact, after German pianist Davide Martello, who had played songs of peace to the protesters in Taksim Square for two days non-stop, played piano in Euromaidan as well, Yeni Şafak and Sabah newspapers – one is owned by Erdoğan’s son-in-law and the other by Erdoğan’s daughter-in-law’s family – wrote “Pro-Gezi Pianist Showed Up In Kiev” and “Kiev’s Gezi”. The newspaper Star, which is completely in Erdoğan’s control too, wrote “Look Where They Have Made The Copy of Gezi” while Haber Vakti, which makes militant publications, wrote “Dark Hands Have Brought Gezi to Kiev.”3 Journalist İbrahim Karagül, who has many readers in conservatist milieus, wrote in one of his articles in Yeni Şafak: “(In Tahrir as well as in Taksim) masses’ anger was mobilized in favor of Others’ interests. This mobilization proved unsuccessful in Turkey. Now, Ukraine is going through a similar process. Slogans, organization styles, powers behind those people, colors and voices are totally same in two countries.”4 Karagül, who had first praised the challenge by Tahrir protests to a dictator, then saw them as a doomed Western-led operation just because he considered the ones in Taksim as a coup attempt. In fact, this view was shared by many people within Pro-Erdoğan milieus. Tahrir became a bad thing after Gezi and was replaced by the protesters in Rabia Place and the willingness to show solidarity with Ikhwan-ı Muslimin (Muslim Brothers in Egypt). And now, Kiev was the third station. The scenario was completely the same, but the actors were little bit poorer in Ukraine under the circumstances of tough winter climate, so maybe some fractions among Gezi’s ‘illegal’ groups would be in help for Kiev’s angry pro-West bourgeois youth?

However, the shift of the wind changed after Kiev police’s fierce reaction following a long wait and the violence in Ukraine Parliament strengthened the opinion that Yanukovych would lose his seat. Pro-government mainstream media in Turkey began to prepare special news declaring that little progress had been made really in Ukraine on the subjects of democratization and transparency since The Orange Revolution in 2004 and to broadcast some discussion programs, short documentaries and special analysis-news directed at understanding the roots of the crisis. As a matter of fact, Turkish public opinion got a shock after Yanukovych secretly left his mansion for escaping to(ward) Russia. His escape, taking away his bathroom equipments made of gold, collections of classical cars and other details, was a typical behavior of dictators (or at least of authoritarian leaders), and it is possible to say that this situation set Yanukovych’s image to zero in the eyes of all Turkish people, socialists and conservatists alike.5 At the same time, Turkish politics was tense and fist-fights were occurring in Turkish Parliament as in Ukraine. After an opponent leader from CHP was punched, comments took place in social media telling that Yanukovych’s members of parliament (MP) had the mentality as Erdoğan’s MPs and that Turkey needed a couple of people like Vitali Klitschko who has been a leader of the Euromaidan protesters and a professional heavy-weight of 2.03 meters height boxer. Similar reactions were expressed after another view which reminded of Turkish police, who used excessive violence, caused 11 people’s death, over 8 thousand people’s injuries and sexual harassment against woman protesters. When the police humiliated a detained person by making him take all of his clothes while the weather was -10 Celcius degrees, Turkish TV-watchers and social media users showed a transient sensitivity towards what happened in Ukraine. But, as I have noted earlier, the approach to the subject was generally not more than ‘a look from a far distance.’

However, the sudden outbreak of the Crimean crisis and the emergence of several death news caused the content of the news to cover Russian expansionism. Discussions about whether the situation would initiate a ‘New Cold War’ were generally held with a reference to the Ossetia and Chechnya experiences and reviews almost uniformly began to express that Russia, having tested its military power, had given a message to both the ex-Soviet countries and global actors. At this very point, Crimea’s cultural, historical and political importance to Turkey was remembered for the first time. The referendum process generated organizations held by Crimean emigrant associations centered in İstanbul and Ankara, round table meetings of thinktanks, conferences on Crimea organized by universities. But this, as Dr. Vugar Imanov from the International Relations department of İstanbul Şehir Universitesi told during a personal meeting on 6 May 2014, also shed light to how superficial the perception of Crimea and Ukraine was. Newspapers, think-tanks, universities were caught unprepared and Imanov, who is of Azerbaijani origin and who wrote a doctoral thesis on Eurasianist thought, said that many TV channels, universities and associations in İstanbul invited him because they had not found another person with a knowledge on the subject. He was right. The truth is, there was not one expert focusing completely on the study of Ukraine in Turkey…

Analysis of the Turkish Mainstream Media’s Discourse
Then, in the post-Yanukovych period, what are the prominent reviews on Ukraine? When we look at the titles which have been read most and got the biggest attention in various newspapers and news portals, we can say that two different tendencies have become subjects to two separate and superficial
analysis. For instance, it is possible to see, among the news that have been seen most in pro-Erdoğan media, a news entitled “Ukrainian crisis served Turkey” (30.07.2014) by the newspaper Sabah mentioning the rise of the Turkish air transport and an analysis by Gönül Tol on the newspaper Akşam (17.03.2014) speculating that the crisis could be “an opportunity for Turkey” Turkish among the news that have been seen most in pro-Erdoğan media. In fact, the same approach – not surprisingly – is seen on the newspaper Yeni Şafak in this way: “Ukraine crisis will energize Turkey” (16.03.2014). While Russia’s Voice (Rusya’nın Sesi in Turkish), a portal broadcasting from both Russia and Turkey, has made propagandist broadcasts like “Crises in Syria and Ukraine Are Bringing Russia And Turkey Closer” (21.05.2014), the portal America’s Voice (Amerika’nın Sesi in Turkish) put forward an analysis entitled “Ukraine Crisis Is Affecting Turkish Economy” (26.04.2014). Dutch analyst Joost Lagendijk, who is a former GreenLeft Member of the European Parliament and served as the joint chairman of the Turkey-EU Parliamentarians delegation, wrote “There is no exit for Turkey in Ukraine crisis” in his article published in the newspaper Zaman (14.05.2014) while senior writer Sami Kohen (18.04.2014) from the newspaper Milliyet and political scientist and leading commentator Fuat Keyman from the newspaper Radikal (05.03.2014) argued that Turkey has not had the luxury of starting a power struggle over the crisis. All of these recent three writers underlined that one needed to watch future military-political developments more carefully instead of focusing on Yushchenko or Yanukovych, Ukraine or Russia, Europe or Eurasia equations. In fact, new assessments made during Minsk Talks at the end of August 2014 seem to have begun to confirm the rightness of these three writers.

In this sense, it seems possible to draw some conclusions from our collection of news and columns taken from the websites of Turkey’s most popular newspapers Zaman, Posta, Sabah, Milliyet, Star, Akşam and Hürriyet. Accordingly, based on the columns which have been read and shared on Twitter most, we can say that Turkish media has covered Ukrainian Revolution and Crimean
Crisis from the following perspectives:
1) Energy Crisis and energy security
2) Protests, Protestors and linkages to Gezi Park protests.
3) Writings reminding of the need to preserve Turco-Russian relations
4) Effects of the crisis on the tourism in Turkey
5) The position and security of Crimean Tatar-Turkic community

Issues such as analysis on the subject of Ukraine’s territorial and national integrity, the situation of the tradespeople exporting goods and services to Ukraine, Turkish students studying in Ukraine remained in the back-ground almost as if they were merely details. On the other hand, reviews on the flow of natural gas have been the primary theme or among the primary topics on the agenda within the 84 columns out of 140 (published during the period between 1 December 2013-10 September 2014) that we have examined and that have different contexts. As for the number of written and mainly oral declarations made by the government which were broadcast on the evening news of the most popular TV channels, it was 87 between 21 November 2013-1 September 2014. It means that every single review was made per every four days, picturing on its own Turkey’s level of interest towards the region.6

As to the humanitarian dimension of the events, it is perhaps the most neglected part. Within Turkish media, which is proud of trying to take lead in aiding to the humanitarian crises in Syria, Palestine, Somalia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Libya and even Haiti, there has not even been a proposal, throughout the process, to organize an aid campaign for either Orthodox and Catholic Ukraininans or Muslim Crimean Tatars.

Turkish Government’s Approach To The Crisis
From the second half of 2013 onwards, Gezi Park protests, the bribery and corruption operation against certain ministers and Erdoğan’s family, the scandal created by arms sent from Turkey for using in Syrian Civil War, the hostile competition between Fethullah Gülen Movement and pro-Erdoğan milieus, local elections at the end of March, and finally the process of presidential elections in 10 August occupied Turkish Government’s –actually not only the
government’s) agenda.

Within this time period, Ukraine crisis has always been considered less than the subjects mentioned above as and also less than ISIS issue, Israel’s attack on Palestine, the disaster in a mining enterprise in Soma, where more than 300 workers died, and a number of social explosions connected with nearly 2 million Syrians living in Turkey. In addition, it should be kept in mind that Erdoğan Government’s relations with Gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Emirates) capital and Russia has become more close as it has distanced itself from European Union. Today, Turkey has a foreign trade relation worth more than 50 billion dollars with Russia; there are lots of structuring projects in Russia which are made by Turkish companies, also Russia is the basic arrival for Turkish clothing products, beer, chocolate and so on.7 For the last couple of years, nearly 4 million Russian tourists have visited Turkey annually and Russia still continues to be Turkey’s predominant natural gas supplier. It should also be noted that a “Putin fear” has been present within Turkish public opinion who has been watching authoritarian Putin’s uncompromising attitudes for nearly 15 years. It should be kept in mind that Erdoğan, who has been criticized by many people over “resembling Putin” since 2010, has been willing to have good relations with the Russian President and appointed Yiğit Bulut (b.1972), a Russophile journalist, as his principal adviser. Within the context of these conditions, one would not expect Turkish government to engage in Ukraine after all, with which it does not possess very powerful political-economic ties, compared to its relations with Russia. Thus, from the beginning of the crisis onwards, Russia’s steps towards Ukraine have not been considered as a crisis in which Turkey can get involved due to its primarily and directly affected position, as it has been the case in Syria. Aside from having maritime boundaries on the Black Sea, Turkey would be affected secondarily and indirectly from the tension between Russia and Ukraine-for instance when Russia’s revisionist attitude would be considered together with its reflections on the Caucasus. If we look at it from a broader context, the issue has been taking shape within the general balance between the West and Russia. For this reason, The Western World and its institutions stepped forward as the leading actor in the political efforts directed at solving the issue. Turkey will continue in the future to try to harmonize its NATO led Trans-Atlantic security policy and its own regional approach. At this point, it is worth mentioning that Turkey has traditionally followed a policy that has shunned remaining in between during a crisis between The West and Russia.

Similarly, “In the last couple of years, Turkey has compartmentalized its relations with Russia, as it has done with Syria and has been careful to not to be affected by regional crises. Therefore it needs to oversee delicate balances throughout this crisis in which Russia is directly involved.”8

Within the context of the conditions that we have written thus far, let us take a look at how Ankara is approaching to the subject although Turkey has not been able to show an active presence during this crisis. A written declaration made by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 6 March and with the number 77, on the subject of the referendum decision of The Parliament of Crimea Autonomous Republic related to Crimea’s status, was giving important clues concerning our point. A language as well-balanced as possible was used in the statement and it was declared that referendum would not contribute to the resolution of the crisis, but that it could result in dangerous outcomes which could cause serious splits among different groups in Crimea. Following matters were put forward in the declaration: 1) We are against all kinds of fait accompli in the region. 2) The referendum can cause new fractures and negative results in the region. 3) Turkey is very sensitive about Crimean Tatars with whom we share similar ancestries. 4) A solution which will be “based on the political unity and the territorial integrity of the country, within the context of democratic principles, in accordance with international law and agreements” should be found. 5) For this, an environment of “reconciliation” and “dialogue” should be provided between related parties.9 Turkey, with this declaration, was putting forward in a sense its principal sensitivities connected with the crisis as well as a solution to the crisis. Nevertheless, developments so far have shown that Turkey has not been effective even as a “passive mediator.”

When we look at the general picture, conditions seems to be different this time for Turkey, from those during Russo-Georgia War in 2008 when Turkey’s stance was close to Russia, and developments are pointing out an inevitable choice similar to that in The First Crimean War (1853-1856). But under present conditions, the ongoing confidence crisis in Turkey’s relations with the West and the relationship of dependency within Russo-Turkish relations show that a choice of this kind will not be easy either. What’s more, Turkey’s ongoing internal crisis constitutes a leading factor which makes this kind of choice more difficult. Turkey is almost being attempted to be left out of this new big game through certain internal, artificial and controlled crises, whereas Turkey needs to have an active role in this crisis which directly interests it. At least, as it was mentioned above, Crimean Turks dimension and the security of Black Sea region necessitates it. And also “2023 Vision” which has been referred many times by Erdoğan…10 Let’s not forget that a passive Turkey which is left out of The Mediterranean and Black Sea will not be able to, a large extent, to develop a medium-long term policy! Thus, the “strategic depth” perspective expressed very often by Erdoğan-Davutoğlu duo and their claim about producing proactive foreign policy seem to lead Turkey to take on revisionist Russia which is for a status quo in Black Sea.

Turkey’s Movement Capability
Despite all, “Eurasian Union” -which appears to us in the way of protecting the process of cooperation in Turco-Russian relations, which has not broken down in spite of 2008 Georgia and 2011 Syria crises and which has been identified by Erdoğan government with Shanghai Five after 2010- bears a central importance for this government together with “Turkey’s Sunni backyard.”11 What’s in question here is an effort to form a new balance against the West and to use the common geography as a source of power through cooperation instead of an area of competition-conflict.12 This pursuit of unity, attempted to be brought into being after 11 September 2001 around the axis that joins Russia and Turkey, is now about to sink into the deep waters of the Black Sea because of differences of approach that started to conflict not in Ukraine but in Crimea.13 In this context, Foreign Minister of the period –now Prime Minister- Ahmet Davutoğlu’s statement that Turkey will make any efforts to keep Crimea as a part of Ukraine is very important.14 Here appears a clear differentiation from Russia. Now, what will happen in this situation? How will Turkey answer the questions starting with “which” and “how” that appear in the context of the phrase “any efforts” underlined by Davutoğlu’s statement “We will make any efforts to guarantee Crimea’s future”? This is a question which is bound to remain unanswered for the time being… But it seems possible by the way of “a dual flexibility.” In fact, as Prof. Selçuk Çolakoğlu pointed out, state-owned Turkish Airlines’ (THY) decision of restarting flights to Crimea on 14 April 2014, contain certain political messages beyond being an economic decision. Likewise, “Turkey’s lack of participation even in weaker EU sanctions against Russia can be interpreted as a reflection of the policy of protecting relations with Russia.”15

In conclusion, although Turco-Russian relations move on the way of cooperation through Putin-Erdoğan relations, Russia’s historical demands on the Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Straits still continues to exist and Turkey’s statement, which was expressed at the highest level, on the subject of Crimea’s remaining in Ukraine is being tested in Crimea just as Russia’s imperial power, which is being examined also in Crimea.

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ written reaction numbered 279 related to the conflicts on August shows that in a potential crisis between the West and Russia, Turkey will have to play the role of being “a part of the Free World” and will understand through experience that it will not be able to make a long-running alliance with Russia due to historical and political realities.

Hasan Aksakal, PhD – Researcher at the Faculty of Political Sciences Istanbul University. Editor of a Journal Gelenekten Geleceğe. He specializes in Turkish history 19th-20th cc and contemporary situation in the Black Sea region.

1 According to Prof. Karpat, the amount of Crimean Tatars who fleed to Ottoman Empire from 1783 to 1922 is approximately 1.800.000 people. See at: Kemal Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1800-1922: Demographic and Social Characteristics, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison-Wisconsin, 1985, p.66.

2 Hakan Kırımlı, Turkiye’deki Kırım Tatar ve Nogay Yerleşimleri, Ankara: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2012.

3 (online), 02.12.2013. “Kiev Gezi’si”, Akşam, 10.12.2013. “Gezi’ci Piyanist Kiev’de Ortaya Cıktı”, Sabah, 23.12.2013, http://, (online), 09.12.2013. Star, 24.12.2013.

4 İbrahim Karagul, Tahrir, Taksim, Kiev… Ya Dershane Krizimiz?, Yeni Şafak, 04.12.2013.

5 (online), 23.02.2014. (online), 23.02.2014. as-sirra-kadem-basmisti-izi-bulundu/haber-847316 (online), 23.02.2014.

6 I thank for these statistical data.

7 “Rusya-Turkiye Toplam Ticaret Hacmi 50 milyar Dolar”, Zaman, 10.06.2013.

8 Şaban Kardaş, Turkiye ve Ukrayna Krizi: Suriye Krizinin İzduşumleri, Ortadoğu Analiz, Sayı: 62, (May-June 2014), s.6. Kardaş is an associate professor from the department of International Relations at TOBB Ekonomi Universitesi and the chair of ORSAM, a pro-Erdoğan think-tank in Ankara.

9 ). (online), 06.03.2014. Also see M. Seyrettin Erol, “‘Ukrayna-Kırım’ Krizi ve‘İkinci Yalta Sureci’”, Karadeniz Araştırmaları Dergisi, Sayı: 41, (Spring 2014), p.10.

10 Erol, p.12-13

11 Kadri Gursel, Erdogan Serious in Turkey’s Bid for Shangai 5 Membership, Al Monitor, 5 January 2013. turkey.html (online), 1 September 2014.

12 Ahmet Davutoğlu had mentioned this critical balance in his famous book entitled Stratejik Derinlik in 2001. See more at Davutoğlu, Stratejik Derinlik: Turkiye’nin Uluslararası Konumu, İstanbul: Kure Yayınları, 75th edition, 2011, pp.119-182.

13 Deniz Berktay, a Turkish journalist with Cumhuriyet from Kiev, reminds us of the historical perspective. Online correspondence with Berktay, 09.09.2014. Also see, Erol, p.13.

14 , (online), 02.03.2014.

15 See more in Selcuk Colakoğlu, “Turkiye’nin Ukrayna-Rusya Krizinde Tavrı”, USAK Analiz, (online), 20.04.2014.

EU Association of Ukraine vs. Russia’s Counteractions

Vitalii Martyniuk

[tekst pierwotnie opublikowany w://text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 6, październik 2014, ss. 11-22]

Geopolitical location of Ukraine between the world poles of power has forced the nation to make a choice concerning its future foreign policy direction. Previously, trying to become a bridge between different parts of Europe, Ukraine was balancing and maintained neutral position thus relying upon the international security guarantees stipulated in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Nevertheless, the existing world order excludes the possibility of uncertainty and Ukraine has made its choice – integration into the EU. Starting from the very beginning of Ukraine’s independence, Moscow has been reacting painfully on each Kiev’s attempt to become closer to the EU. Russia understood that its greatness could never revive without Ukraine, and without this Russia could never become a full-scale world actor. As such, the European integration of Ukraine became a red rag and a target for Moscow at the same time. As soon as Ukraine makes a step towards the EU, the Russian side used to react immediately: politically or economically. For instance, right before the launch of the EU Eastern Partnership (May 2009), in the winter of 2009 Russia initiated a “gas war” against Ukraine, as a result of which many European states found themselves on the brink of energy crises caused by the stoppage of natural gas supply from Russia (Moscow groundlessly put the blame on the Ukrainian side)1.

Despite all obstacles, Ukraine has been moving towards the signature of the Association Agreement with the EU. Russian leaders were not waiting lazily and prepared their own scenarios, which they planned to launch if the Agreement was signed. In fact Russia is currently putting into action one of such scenarios. Being under pressure from Moscow the former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych refused to integrate Ukraine into the EU. However, the people of Ukraine, European by spirit, expressed its strive to live in a European state and won the Revolution of Dignity. This urged the Kremlin to launch previously prepared plan directed at destroying Ukraine as a state. The results of the launch of this plan are annexation of the Crimea, destabilizing of the situation in the South-Eastern regions of Ukraine and actual war in the Donbas.

So, why the Kremlin continues to add oil into fire, even realizing that the Ukrainian people will not obey? Firstly, current unchangeable Russian leadership (Putin de facto and de jure rules Russia for the last 15 years) does not reject its plans to transform Russian Federation into “the Russian Empire”, which will look like a car without one wheel without Ukraine.

Secondly, development of democracy in Ukraine creates obstacles for Russian leaders to build authoritarian state with humble population, which could be continuously robbed and exploited.

Thirdly, further economic and technological development of Ukraine with the help of the EU will inevitably lead to reducing dependency of Ukraine on Russian mineral resources (natural gas, oil) and low-technological Russian products. Simultaneously, all Ukrainian enterprises and business will have to start using European standards of doing business and in case of Russian refusal to cooperate with them in some spheres – redirect their products to new markets. That is why Moscow continuously announces that the Association Agreement with the EU will be harmful to Ukrainian economy and cause serious losses, as long as Russia could not possibly have preferential conditions of economic cooperation with the state creating a free trade zone with the EU. In fact, the Russian producers have already been losing formidable Ukrainian market and inexpensive and so necessary Ukrainian-made spare parts for their machine producing sphere, namely
for the Russian defense industry.

Fourthly, Russian capital (it is worth remembering that Moscow rulers in fact control it) has always been trying to broaden its presence in Ukraine, but the European norms of doing business create obstacles to it. As such, Russian capital has not used to operate under transparent rules and as it is better adapted to “black” and “grey” business schemes.

Despite counteractions from Moscow, Ukraine continues its course towards the European integration, and on 27 June 2014 Ukraine signed the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union, which was ratified by the European and Ukrainian parliaments on 16 September 2014. At the same time, Ukraine as well as the European Union will have to take into account the Russian factor in their bilateral relations, the factor that will remain an obstacle.

However, the signature of the Association Agreement opened a new page of deepening relations with the EU, which implies reaching real political and economic integration of Ukraine into the European Community. For Ukraine, this means a step forward towards further development of its political system, democracy, civil society, economy, security and other spheres. This also includes stabilization of the situation in the Eastern Europe, which will settle all problems and disputes by means of negotiations and compromises being inspired by the EU example, without expressing threats and use of arms or other forceful means, which the Russian Federation uses.

It seems that the Ukrainian state and its people are ready enough for drastic changes and transformations envisaged by the Association Agreement with the EU. Firstly, political will of the current Ukrainian leadership is directed at continuing the European integration process in Ukraine. This was declared at the European Council meetings by the Ukrainian Prime-minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk right after the victory of “Maidan” on 6 March 20142 and confirmed by the newly elected President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, in Brussels on 30 August 20143.

Secondly, all previous economic (milk, meat, pastry) and energy wars have already forced Ukrainian businessmen to look actively for other then Russian markets and new suppliers that was stimulated by clear and concrete rules of the European market. Besides, de facto military struggle with the Russian Federation and limiting actions on behalf of Ukraine, including the law on sanctions against Russia adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on 14 August 2014, force Ukrainian manufacturers to redirect their products to other markets and search new business opportunities as well.

Thirdly, and more importantly, Ukrainian people’s support to the European integration is growing fast. During last year only, the number of supporters to European integration among the Ukrainian population has grown by 10%. According to the surveys made in May 2013, 41,7% of Ukrainian respondents supported integration of Ukraine into the EU, in December 2013 this number grew to 46,4%, and in May 2014 reached 53%4. This was largely caused by Russia itself and its aggressive actions towards Ukraine, which not only united the people of Ukraine but also changed its views. These Russian actions also caused significant changes in the views of the population in the Eastern Ukraine.

Growing people’s support creates a solid groundwork for the successful implementation of the Association Agreement, establishes conditions for achieving positive changes in Ukraine and stabilization of situation in the Eastern Europe.

Political dimension of the Agreement
The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU actually consists of two parts: political and economic. On 21 March 2014, the Ukrainian Prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed the political part of the Agreement that worried Russia much less than its economic part. Political dimension envisages rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU, establishing continuous political dialogue and in fact reforming the country5.

According to the Agreement, Ukraine has to use European norms of administration, rule of law, human rights, protection of ethnic minorities and basic freedoms. Ukraine will obtain possibilities to deepen its participation in policies, programs and agencies of the EU, which will help considering Ukrainian position within them.

Adapting Ukrainian administration system to European standards is expected to increase efficiency of the state agencies, decrease the level of corruption, and improve state financial administration and state and local budget planning processes, as well as to improve existing social policies6. These are changes expected by the Ukrainian people. As shown by the opinion poll conducted in May 2014 by the Ukrainian Fund “Democratic Initiatives”, Ukrainians insist on immediate anticorruption reform (63% of respondents), social services sector reform (50%), healthcare system reform (50%), reform of judiciary and prosecution (45%), law-enforcement bodies’ reform (39%)7.

Public expectations of above mentioned reforms consolidate the Ukrainian society because people on the West and on the East of Ukraine want them. Justification of these expectations as result of successful reforms can become the criteria for the Ukrainian society to assess fulfillment of the Association Agreement and in fact the overall process of integrating Ukraine into the EU. Simultaneously the process of visa liberalization for Ukrainian citizens continues. As mentioned by some politicians in the EU, signing the Association Agreement is expected to fasten this process as long as a separate chapter of the Agreement (Title III) is devoted to this issue8. The document clearly stipulates: “The Parties shall take gradual steps towards a visa-free regime in due course”9.

Arrangement of secure borders is one of the elements of the EU visa liberalization process. With regard to the current situation, the Ukrainian-Russian border is the most problematic part of the Ukrainian border, as long as nowadays Russia uses its imperfection to transport armament and human resources into the Ukrainian territory10. It would be worth deploying EUBM mission on the Eastern Ukrainian border to arrange safe, protected and secure border with Russia.

Significant portion of the association process is security dimension, especially with regard to the current situation in the Eastern Ukraine. Almost all goals of the political dialogue envisaged by the Agreement have to do with providing security11. At the forefront of cooperation between Ukraine and the EU there are tasks of broadening cooperation in international security and crisis management spheres; achieving peace, security and stability in Europe; building dialogue in security and defense spheres; support to principles of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. Their practical performing in the process of implementation of the Association Agreement has to be directed to reforming and strengthening security sector of Ukraine, modernization and supplying new armament to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as joint efforts of Ukraine and the EU to establish probably new security order all over the Europe (possibly in the OSCE framework).

Although the Association Agreement has not yet come into force, existing challenges force both Ukraine and the EU to cooperate in crises management as mentioned in the Article 10 of the Agreement12. This will become one of the first real tests to efficiency of the Association Agreement. United action of Ukraine and the EU to counteract Russian aggression, with the aim to restore territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, is an inclusive part of implementation of the Agreement. Having taken multiple obligations envisaged by the Agreement and meeting all demands of the EU, Ukraine must be sure that the other party will stick to its obligations and will show unity and consistency in accomplishing the EU Common foreign and security policy.

The armed conflict in the Eastern Ukraine erupted for reasons artificially created by one party – the Russian Federation, which is to be held responsible for the destabilizing situation in the Eastern Ukraine – in direct proximity to the European Union. The EU has already done much to settle the conflict including the imposition of three waves of sanctions, active participation in the negotiation process, providing full support and assistance to Ukraine. Acknowledgement of Russian aggression against Ukraine by the EU, stipulated in Conclusions of the Special meeting of the European Council on 30 August 201413, is a very important step in this regard. The EU also took an obligation to provide financial and material aid to Ukraine (by the end of the year Ukraine expects to receive 250 million euro grant and 510 million euro preferential loan) and continues to insist on the fast settling of the conflict.

As long as Moscow has acted aggressively and decisively towards Ukraine, counteractions must be quick and decisive. It is worth mentioning that using negotiation process as the only means to settle 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict has led to the fact that territorial integrity of Georgia has not been restored by now. Diplomatic efforts must be backed by stronger arguments because the current Russian authorities unfortunately use its forceful impact in international negotiations.

The end of Russia’s aggression policy in the Post-Soviet area would be an indication of the EU success and demonstration to European nations, which have already signed the Association Agreement with the EU, such as Moldova and Georgia, that due to integration to the EU they can achieve their important political objectives including preserving territorial integrity, stability and security.

Economic advantages of the Agreement for Ukraine
Economic part of the Agreement envisages the creation of a free-trade zone between the EU and Ukraine, which is definitely a positive step for Ukrainian economy, as long as it will allow further liberalization of Ukraine’s market. According to experts from the Institute of economic studies and political consultations, this will strengthen competition and lead to the improvement of the quality, lower prices and to some extent will slower the inflation14.

Growing volume of mutual trade between Ukraine and the EU is expected to have positive influence on Ukrainian economy, broadening share of Ukrainian goods at European markets, increase of European goods nomenclature at Ukrainian market, which is expected to stimulate Ukrainian economy to improve price policy.

For now, the volume of trade exchange between the EU and Ukraine is almost the same as between Russia and Ukraine. For instance, foreign trade of goods between Ukraine and the EU in 2013 has reached $43,81 billion (27% of the overall Ukrainian foreign trade)15, at the same time trade of goods with Russia equaled to $44,96 billion (27,7%)16.

It is worth mentioning that starting from 2012 the overall trade between Ukraine and Russia began to decrease. So, the trade grew in 2011 by 33,5% compared to 2010, but in 2012 it decreased by 7,4% and in 2013 by 12,6%. This trend was preserved in early 2014. It can be concluded that decrease of mutual trade between Ukraine and Russia is not connected to the signature of the Association Agreement with the EU, that has become a widely speculated topic among adversaries to Ukrainian European integration (first of all inside Russia). This trend began in times of V.Yanukovich presidency, two years prior to the date of the expected signing of the Association Agreement. Probably adversaries to the European integration of Ukraine try to explain decrease of the volume of trade between Russia and Ukraine and hinder economic integration of Ukraine into the EU. The latter has been partly put into existence.

Despite other nations, even post-Soviet Moldova and Georgia, Ukraine is forced to participate in trilateral consultations with Russia and the EU concerning real risks for Russian-Ukrainian relations, possibly arising from the free-trade zone between Ukraine and the EU17. Despite the conduct of several rounds of such talks, including talks on the highest level with the participation of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and President of Russia Vladimir Putin18, the Russian side continues to send signals of displeasure about the Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, and this signals are even accompanied by threats on behalf of Moscow. For instance, on 29 August 2014 Russian minister of economic development Alexey Ulyukayev stated that Russia will impose protective measures, if the EU and Ukraine reject its proposal to amend the Agreement19.

It is obvious that the mentioned threats and tough position of Russia were partly effective because at the Trilateral ministerial meeting on 12 September 2014 the representatives of the EU, Ukraine and Russia took decision on “delaying until 31 December 2015 the provisional application of the DCFTA while continuing autonomous trade measures of the EU to the benefit of Ukraine during the period”20. The main reason of this decision was ability “to fully support the stabilization of Ukraine”, as mentioned in the Joint Ministerial Statement, that witnessed full desire of the EU not to jeopardize the current fragile state of seize-fire, which was reached by the Trilateral Contact Group on 5 September 2014 in Minsk21, and not to provoke Russia to further escalation of the conflict on the East of Ukraine. At the same time, this decision is not a real obstacle for the Association process of Ukraine. Firstly, according to the Article 486 of the AA, the Parties can provisionally apply this Agreement in part and firstly concerning DCFTA. If the EU took corresponding decision, the Parties might start establishing the free trade area from the first day of October 2014, taking into account that the Ukrainian Parliament ratified the Agreement on 16 September 2014, but experience of the Western Balkans showed that a period between signature of the Association and Stabilization Agreement and beginning of implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement (as part of ASA in Balkan variant) was long to 1,5-2 years. Secondly, a real process of establishing a free trade area, according to the Article 25 of the AA, may last 10 years at maximum starting from the entry into force of this Agreement, that is after ratification by the EU, which envisages ratification procedures in all 28 member-states, the European Parliament (ratified on 16 September 2014) and corresponding decision of the European Council. According to the mentioned experience of the Western Balkans states, the whole ratification procedure in the EU can last several years. Thirdly, the EU tries to save correlation between the EU-Ukraine DCFTA and the CIS FTA to stimulate development of economic cooperation in Europe and push Russia to continue economic and trade relations with Ukraine. Fourthly, nobody inhibits Ukraine to apply unilaterally those positions of the AA, which lead to improvement of its economic system.

Reform of the Ukrainian economy and its adapting to the EU standards, envisaged by the Agreement, continues and, as estimated the Ukrainian minister of economic development P.Sheremeta, will “show the export potential of the state”22. This means that after synchronizing Ukrainian legislation, technical regulation and standards with the EU criteria Ukrainian producers will have a direct access to the European market, which will increase the export volume and thus will help increase the domestic production in Ukraine. According to assessments of the Ukrainian experts, harmonization of Ukrainian standards with European ones by only 50-75% will lead to 0,8% growth of Ukrainian GDP per year23.

This process is not an easy one for Ukrainian producers, as long as negative balance in trade with Russia is $4 billion and at the same time negative balance of trade with the EU is $10,3 billion. In other words, big number of Ukrainian producers is now oriented to the traditional Russian market, operate under Russian standards and will be forced to modernize their production. Due to possible imposing of limiting sanctions by Russia, part of them will be forced to transfer to European standards and search new markets for their products, but part of them will keep possibility to operate in the Russian market.

Those Ukrainian producers who are oriented towards the Russian customers announce the need for a long period (up to 5 years) to prepare themselves before the beginning of operating within the free-trade zone with the EU. Nevertheless, the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda was adopted in June 2009 and in fact became a prototype of the future Association Agreement with the aim of fulfillment of its separate provisions24. This means that Ukrainian producers have already had the needed 5-year term to prepare them for the economic integration into the European Union and had to begin this process at that time.

Implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will have positive consequences for the Ukrainian population. As the experts from the Institute of economic studies and political consultations estimate, the Agreement will lead to increase revenues of citizens, lowering prices due to growing proposal and competition, improving quality of goods and services in the market. The last one is closely connected to harmonizing Ukrainian legislature with the European in spheres of food products security and technical regulation. However, prices for some other products may increase (first of all it concerns goods which are protected by copyright legislation, i.e. computer software, movies, medicament etc.), and law quality workers will be forced either to increase their professional level or to search new job opportunities25.

The Agreement envisages increase of cooperation between Ukraine and the EU on regional policy issues that is aimed at support to development of economically backward territories, and in rural areas policies. The success of such cooperation will mean improving life conditions, decrease of unemployment and growing welfare of separate regions.

Consequences of the Agreement for the Eastern European region
No doubt that signing of the Association Agreements with Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia is to some extent demonstration that the idea of the EU Eastern Partnership appears to be not only another form of cooperation but a real effective project of the EU to spread European values in the Eastern European region, and as it was mentioned by the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, a signal of effectiveness of the EU policy in the East26. In other words, this puts into action the main idea of the EU Eastern Partnership: strengthening democratic processes in states of the Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus, assisting them in modernization and establishing the rule of law, adopting European standards and creating frameworks for further rapprochement of the Eastern partners with the EU. In future these processes will have to provide political and economic stability in the Eastern European states, which is needed nowadays.

Government administrating procedures, reformed in accordance with the EU standards, straight and understood by the Eastern European peoples, will allow these states not to change their foreign and domestic policy vectors depending on results of every election. This will help stabilizing situation both in every state and the whole region.

By signing the Association Agreement each state, including Ukraine, has shown that their foreign policy is unchanged and aimed at integrating into the EU. This foreign policy vector is considered unfavorable by Russia, which tries to preserve its influence in the post-Soviet space by using the dirtiest methods of destabilizing the situation. Among the six nations of the Eastern Partnership only Belarus has no conflict situation on its territory. This is reached due to support of Russian initiatives in the post-Soviet space by the Belarus leadership (CIS, Customs union, EurAsEC). All other nations have either active or frozen conflicts directly caused by Russia’s actions: Ukraine has Donbas and Crimea, Moldova has Transnistria, Georgia has Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have Nagorno-Karabakh. By keeping these regions unstable and by threatening to quickly destabilize the situation there, Russia still manages to preserve its influence in the Eastern Europe.

In case of Ukraine, Russia did not create conflict zones on its territory just immediately after the USSR collapse because it managed to influence Ukrainian political leadership and effectively use economic means of influence (gas, milk and other wars). At the same time Moscow strengthened gradually economic, information, political and even military influence in the Ukrainian Crimea, a base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, simultaneously trying to tie Ukrainian Donbas to Russia with the use of ideology and economic means. For this Russia used various tools: religious proximity; nostalgic sentiments about careless Soviet past; inclusion of these territories into the Russian Empire (historical factor); Russian language and “the need to protect it”; demonstration of better life within Russia (in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, while hiding miserable state of other Russian regions); stable political system (which role was played by authoritarian regime in the RF), and some other factors. All these were supported by a large number of Russian politicians, political scientists, political technologists and the Russian mass media. When it became clear that Ukraine can ultimately move away from Russia, Moscow used its influence in the Crimea and Donbas trying to transform these regions into zones of instability and hinder Ukraine’s movement towards the EU. That is why signing the Association Agreement with Ukraine, as well as with Georgia and Moldova became shocking news for Russia.

Despite internal disputes within the EU on ways of settling the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine, today the EU shows readiness to cooperate actively with Ukraine in the security sphere that is envisaged in the Association Agreement. For instance Article 9 of the Agreement “Regional stability” stipulates: “The parties shall intensify their joint efforts to promote stability, security and democratic development in their common neighborhood, and in particular to work together for the peaceful settlement of regional conflicts”27. Without doubt this article in the text of the Agreement took into account the conflicts existing at that moment, first of all in Transnistria, Abkhazia, Southern Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. However it should also encompass the conflict continuing in the Donbas.

The EU and its member-states put much effort to settle this conflict, but positions of some European states can lead to relatively moderate position of the EU, while aggression from the Russian side against Ukraine grows. In this case stability, security, and democratic development can be threatened, thus causing the appearance of new source of tension within the common neighborhood which contradicts basic principles of the EU Common foreign and security policy.

This situation currently is favorable only to one party – Russia, which uses all possible means, from military intervention in the Eastern European states to economic blackmailing of the EU member-states, to reach its goals.

So, the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine is directed at political and economic development of the nation, stabilizing the situation within the state and in the overall Eastern European region. However unwillingness of Russia to lose control over this region and Moscow’s actions, directed at fueling existing and creating new conflicts zones, tend to further destabilize the situation. Russia tries to reach it in order to show inability of the EU to guarantee peace and stability and in order to hinder further spread of the EU values upon the whole Eastern European region.

Vitalii Martyniuk – Vice-president of the Center for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”, Foreign policy expert of the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research. Specialist on EU energy policies, EU Foreign Policy and EU-Ukraine relations.

1 V.Martyniuk, Ukraine and the EU in the Gas Post-Confl ict Situation: Three Development Options, Research Update, Vol. 15, 3/563, UCIPR, Kyiv, 2009,

2 Statement of the Heads of State or Government on Ukraine, Brussels, 6 March 2014,



5 Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, Article 1


7 European integration of Ukraine: experience of neighbors and prospects of consolidation of society, Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation,

8 Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, Title III

9 Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, Article 19

10 Андрій Дихтяренко ≪Олексій Данилов: Війна в Україні закінчиться розвалом Росії≫, 07.08.14, ≪Обозреватель≫

11 Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, Article 4

12 Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, Article 10

13 Conclusions, Special meeting of the European Council, 30 August 2014, p.3.







20 Joint Ministerial Statement on the Implementation of the EU-Ukraine AA/DCFTA, Brussels, 12 September 2014;

21 Protocol on the results of consultations of the Trilateral Contact Group, signed in Minsk, 5 September 2014;



24 Association Agenda Ukraine-EU, MFA Ukraine



27 Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, Article 9.

Ukrainian Role in the Transnistrian Conflict Settlement in the Framework of the OSCE Chairmanship*

Hanna Shelest

[tekst pierwotnie opublikowany w://text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz" nr 4, październik 2013, ss. 57-63]

In 2013 Ukraine holds the chair at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is one of the highest profile roles in the international arena the country took since the declaration of its independence. Ukrainian Chairmanship of the OSCE can become an instrument and a chance for Ukraine to advance its international standings and to promote its status in international relations. However, OSCE Chairmanship is not only a great honor but a challenge too. For Ukraine one of such challenges is a settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, as it stays the key question for the regional security policy. As far as it has always been a part of the mediation and peacekeeping activities of Ukraine as Transnistrian region bordering only Ukraine and Moldova could not stay out of the Ukrainian concern, this very issue was announced as one of the priorities for the Ukrainian Chairmanship in January 2013.1

OSCE and the settlement of the Transnistrian Conflict
In 1993, the OSCE (then the CSCE) established a Mission in Moldova to support efforts to find a peaceful solution to this conflict. The main objectives of the Mission are to assist in negotiating a lasting political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, to consolidate the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, and to reach an understanding on a special status for the Transnistrian region.2 OSCE is one of the official mediators in the resolution of the Transnistrian conflict. Mission in Moldova has constantly facilitated direct negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol and actively cooperated with all mediators and observers. This is the very organization which reached the biggest success in confi dence-building measures and agreements on basic principles of the relations between the two conflicting parties. Despite the interruption of the official talks in the “5+2” format in 2006, OSCE Mission directed its efforts on organization of the informal meetings, the goal of which were renewal of the official format. During 2008-2009 the process of informal negotiations was intensifed. Furthermore, confidence-building measures between two parties were expanded in 2008, when the experts meetings in the groups of common interests in social and economic spheres have been started.

OSCE actions in this direction have been intensified in 2011, among others, by organization of the conference under the auspices of the OSCE and support of the German government, which took place in September 2011 in Bad Reichenhall, and by the revival of the offi cial talks in the “5+2” format, which took place during another round of consultations in Moscow on the 22nd of September 2011. Last years this conflict got a new attention due to the increased interest to this question on the side of the international community, renewing regular negotiations in the “5+2” format, as well as the progress in resolution of some “technical” issues and confi dence-building measures.

In all conflicts at the post-soviet space the OSCE as a mediator tried to be a link between the conflicting parties, but also between the different mediation and peacekeeping efforts in the region. At the same time it is necessary to point out that OSCE actions in the peace process are concentrated in two tracks: confidence building measures, people to people contacts and political settlement. Problem of the Transnistrian conflict settlement is one of the key ones at every annual OSCE Ministerial Meeting, and with a certain periodicity the chairing state proposes a new initiative on peaceful settlement of this conflict. Stepping-up of the negotiating process due to the Lithuanian and Irish Chairmanships’ priorities set in this sphere is a good background for continuation of this trend from the Ukrainian side.

The role of Ukraine
Ukrainian Chairmanship in the OSCE in 2013 is not only an important basis to enhance Ukrainian role in the negotiating process, but also to achieve a progress in a resolution of this conflict. This possibility is due to the fact that Ukraine has a high level of awareness and understanding of reasons of the Transnistrian conflict, its course of events during all the time of the existence, as well as a new context which has appeared after the change of power in Moldova in 2009 and in Transnistria in December 2011.

Ukraine is perceived by the confl icting parties not only as a peaceful and impartial partner, who is interested in a regional stability, but also as an adequate interlocutor, who understands problems of the post-communist states. Moreover, it is perceived as the less interested in territorial claims and claims of other character to the parties to conflict. From the very beginning Kyiv has officially supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Moldova and stand for conflict settlement by peaceful means only on the terms mutually acceptable for conflicting parties. It is important to emphasize that once Moldova and Transnistria advocated Ukrainian involvement in the peace process as a state, which for their opinion has not been biased and has not have geostrategic interests in the region. Ukraine always presents its territory for meetings and consultations between the representatives of Chisinau and Transnistria. Despite the fact that Ukraine has had an official status of mediator together with Russia and OSCE since 1994, and guarantor of peace (together with Russia) since 1997, for 10 years Ukraine has been not actively involved in the Transnistrian peace process, just joining the discussion of some narrow issues of the confidence-building. In April 2005 the situation has changed, as Ukrainian authorities proposed a comprehensive peace plan, presented at the GUAM summit in Chisinau, named after then President of Ukraine – The Yuschenko Plan. Not all points of that plan have been implemented, among others because of a low-intensity of the Ukrainian diplomats work in this direction. However it brought several serious shifts – the EU and the USA was invited to join the peace process, so the “5+2” format (Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE + the EU and the USA) has been created, which is still perceived as a main negotiating format. Even more, the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) was created to facilitate border issues settlement. If at the beginning it was purely technical mission, right now the confidence-building and conflict-settlement elements has been incorporated. In 2013, Ukraine as a Chair, appears in a unique situation when it unites two “voices” (its own and OSCE) in the “5+2” format.

The settlement – risks & challenges
However, one cannot abstain from mentioning the risks that Ukraine faces as the OSCE Chair in the Transnistrian conflict settlement. First of all it’s a competition of some international mediators. Then, it is a desire to play leading role without accommodation of the positions with other involved parties resulting in inability to concentrate attention of the conflicting parties on the concrete plan of the peace settlement and reduction the weight and authority of the OSCE as a mediator.

As far as the role of the Russian Federation is very well-known, one should not ignore positions of other interested parties. For the opinion of Vladimir Yastrebchak (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Transnistrian) fragmentation and lack of coordination in the activities of Moscow and Kyiv to a great extent lead to the wheelspin of talks, low level of performance of the undertaken political-diplomatic efforts, impeding the potential, which both states have.3 Back in 2001, when Romania was chairing in the OSCE, it was not “allowed” to deal with the Transnistrian confl ict, perceived by many as a partial actor. Some Romanian experts even predicted that Ukraine would also be not allowed to be very active in this direction so not to overtake leading roles of others involved. However it hasn’t happened and Ukraine is still seen as a good broker to facilitate the process.

Yet on February 15, 2005 President of Romania T. Basescu during negotiations in Moscow raised a question of Bucharest involvement in the confl ict resolution process in Transnistria, underlining that if that problem was important for Ukrainian security, so in that sense it was also important for Romanian.4 Russian leadership has returned to this question in October 2010, when upon the results of the trilateral negotiations between leaders of France, Germany and Russia in Deauville (France), President D. Medvedev stated that success of the Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict settlement depended not only on Russia, Moldova, Transnistria and the European Union, but also on Romania. Active work of the Russian Federation on Romanian involvement can be seen as a desire to minimize the role of other mediators, including Ukraine. At the same time, for Romania, one of the main tasks is minimization the role of Russia in the region, especially in Moldova – so all this leads to a paradox. Within the years Romania has been balancing between desire to be an independent mediator and necessity to consider joint position of the EU. Despite some independent steps, in November 2010 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania T. Baconschi stated that Romania took part in the Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict settlement only as a member of the European Union.5 In some way it makes life of Ukraine easier as it takes away from the stage one of the competitors, but at the same time, Ukraine could have Romania as its ally contrary to the Russian position. Mutual interest in a quick settlement of the Transnistrian conflict makes these two states natural partners. Both countries can take responsibility for the security in the region, presenting additional arguments for Russian military withdrawal.

The second risk Ukraine might face as the OSCE Chair, is reluctance of the conflicting parties to revitalize the peace process and to compromise, what is backed by the unwillingness of the parties to accept Ukraine in particular, and the OSCE as a whole, as an influential mediator. Ukraine took a quick start in the negotiation process as the OSCE chair in January 2013 conducting first negotiations with the representatives of Moldovan and Transnistrian establishment during the visits of the Chair-in-office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Kozhara and the OSCE Chairperson’s Special Representative for conflicts Amb. A. Deshchytsia. It brought some expectations, which were broken by the further denial of the Transnistrian side Mr. Kozhara’s statement that they are ready to move to the political settlement issues6 and de-facto fail of the meeting in Lviv on the 19th of February 2013, when leaders of Transnistria rejected to participate. First round of negotiations in the “5+2” format, organized in 2013 under the Ukrainian Chairmanship “brought some disappointment for those, who believed in “magician” who united for the OSCE statuses of a mediator and a guarantor”.7 Other experts perceived Lviv meeting as a failure of Ukraine, as neither the place had been selected properly (Chernivtsy or Odessa looked more logical) nor the agenda had been prepared carefully, when Ukrainian interests were not taken into account as well as previous agreements were not considered.8 Ukrainian Minister was quick in announcing the breakthrough in the negotiations, which some perceived as wishful thinking and others as unwise haste that resulted in a sharp reaction of both Transnistria and the Russian Federation and influenced further low level of negotiations in Lviv. For Ukraine, who is not a freshman in these negotiations, such mistakes cannot be excused. As a result a new round of negotiations in May 2013 in Odessa has to be started with the lower level of political representation and issues to be agreed.

In opinion of Artem Fylypenko (Head of the Odessa Branch of the National Institute for Strategic Studies) if the agreement on free movement of goods and people between Moldova and Transnistria has been signed in Lviv it would be perceived as a certain breakthrough and a success of the Ukrainian diplomacy. But this has not happened and it became clear that Tiraspol acts in the wake of Moscow policy, and the latter is not very interested in Ukraine getting certain benefits from the OSCE Chairmanship.9 For the next rounds of negotiations Ukraine should make additional efforts to ensure meetings of the leaders of Transnistria and Moldova to happen. However, an internal political crisis in Moldova and political instability in Transnistria can also disturb Ukrainian plans for dialogue’s intensification.

Peacekeeping format – is it time for changes?
One of the problems that still exist is a current peacekeeping format in the region, which does not correspond with a current state of affairs. De facto this mission should transform from military into police one, have a mandate to observe and control the border, renovate the rule of law and monitor human rights, etc. But now its extra militarization just provokes fear in the region, which has a negative psychological effect not reflecting the real situation.

Back to 2006, during the Belgian OSCE Chairmanship this question was raised for the first time. The Belgian proposal would place the reformed peacekeeping operation under the OSCE’s aegis. It would include troops from “many countries,” but Russia would alone provide 30% to 40% of the troops (this is formulated as: “no single country should provide more than 30% to 40%”). Structurally, 75% of the manpower would consist of military troops and 25% of police and civilian observers.10 However it has not happened. Yet in November 2010 President of Romania T. Basescu proposed to change Russian military to European one – this proposition has not been realized either.

There are statements of the EU member-states and the USA on necessity to withdraw Russian military (except peacekeepers) and the rest of ammunition according to the commitments which Russia took at the Istanbul Summit of the OSCE in 1999, which will be logically if Ukraine joins. Nowadays there is a possibility to present such a position from the Ukrainian side as a position of the chairing of the OSCE state, which should promote compliance with the decisions adopted under auspices of this organization.

In four main conflicts at the post-soviet space – Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria – Ukraine and OSCE are on the different levels of inclusion. Transnistria conflict demonstrates the highest level of involvement for both. Thus Ukraine should correlate its initiatives and adjust its ambitions to realities of the resolution process. One of the positive elements of Ukraine as a mediator is its readiness not to monopolize the peace process, but to attract other mediators, minimizes risks of accusation in partiality. So for Ukraine, the OSCE is one of the main platforms for reaching political agreement between the conflicting parties, as represents an established and credible format for negotiations.

As for now Ukraine is more striving to the demonstration of activity, not having real propositions, so it can lead to the practice of “initiatives for initiatives”. Therefore Ukraine needs to return to the practice of preliminary consultations that will lead to the successful dynamics of its OSCE Chairmanship.11 Moreover, as situation around Lviv meeting showed it is necessary to remain calm and silent about the preliminary agreements reached before their fi nal implementation.

As for now Ukraine should organize most of the next negotiations at its territory. Ukraine should facilitate continuation of negotiations between two sides simultaneously in two dimensions. On one side confidence-building measures should be discussed, which are connected with practical questions that can be resolved between the parties, as well as level of people to people contacts. On the other side, the political settlement and dialogue on the final resolution and status of Transnistria should take place. The initiative to launch a standing Civil Society Forum on Transnistrian confl ict resolution has been being discussed within the Ukrainian civil society which also tries to be actively involved in the peace process.

If this year efforts succeed, Ukraine will have a chance to propose a new plan for Moldova and Transnistrian Moldovan Republic coexistence. It can be based on an idea of the self-governed region with a delegation of authorities (e.g. as a Scottish devolution). However, taking into account concerns of Tiraspol and Moscow some guarantees should be presented. For example that Moldova will not join another state, will continue being neutral and a guarantee of linguistic and humanitarian rights of the ethnic minorities, which inhabit the territory of the self-proclaimed TMR. As for now, none of the mediators is ready to present a new peace plan for the Transnistrian settlement. Nevertheless the search for the new formats of coexistence should be continued, as with the Moldovan and Ukrainian ways towards European integration, Transnistria should make a choice of its future, which is now hampered by the fears of possible Romanization.

Hanna Shelest, PhD – Senior Researcher at Odessa Branch of the National Institute for Strategic Studies. Specializes in conflict resolution and security in the Wider Black Sea and the Middle East regions.

* The following text has been submitted in Summer 2013 and therefore it analyses only the first half of the Ukrainian presidency in the OSCE.

1Protracted conflicts, human trafficking and media freedom amongst Ukraine’s OSCE 2013 priorities,, (Accessed 1 February 2013).

2OSCE Mission to Moldova,, (Accessed 15 March 2013).

3Владимир Ястребчак: Согласованные действия России, Украины и Приднестровья как средство от ≪заморозков≫,, (Accessed 20 March 2013).

4Мир в Приднестровье: Румыния хочет ≪приложить руку≫,, (Accessed 15 February 2013).

5Урегулирование приднестровского конфликта без Румынии,, (Accessed 25 December 2012).

6Глава МИД Приднестровья вслед за президентом опровергла ложь главы МИД Украины,, (Accessed 23 January 2013).

7Владимир Ястребчак: Согласованные действия России, Украины и Приднестровья как средство от ≪заморозков≫,, (Accessed 28 February 2013).

8Ю. Збитнев, Львовский провал Кожары, „Хвиля”,, (Accessed 21 February 2013).

9A. Филипенко, Приднестровье не торопится подыгрывать Украине ИА, „Тирас”, lipenko-pridnestrove-ne-toropitsya-podygryvat-ukraine.html, (Accessed 21 February 2013).

10V. Socor, OSCE’S Belgian Chair Proposes Reformed Peacekeeping In Moldova, „Eurasia Daily Monitor”, Volume 3, Issue 195,, (Accessed 21 February 2013).

11Владимир Ястребчак: Согласованные действия России, Украины и Приднестровья как средство от ≪заморозков≫,, (Accessed 28 February 2013).

Between East and West: Gaiaz Iskhaki and Gabdulkhai Kurbangaliev

Hiroaki Kuromiya and Andrzej Pepłoński

[tekst pierwotnie opublikowany w://text originally published in:
"Nowy Prometeusz nr 3, grudzień 2012 r., ss. 89-105]

The Muslim population in the Soviet Union was sizable. According to the 1937 census, the only Soviet census taken under Stalin that surveyed the faith of the Soviet population, there were more than eight million (to be exact 8,256,550) Muslims (Magometane). They accounted for approximately 8.4 percent of the surveyed population of 98.4 million adults, or the second largest religious group after Christians (of  all denominations), far larger than all other groups of believers (Jews, Buddhists, and others).1 Muslims resided all over the country, with concentrations in Central Asia, the Idel-Ural (Volga-Ural) region, and the Northern Caucasus. While the numbers in the 1937 census are difficult to verify with complete accuracy, the substantial Muslim population in the Soviet Union naturally attracted the attention of foreign strategists whose goal it was to dismember the multi-national Soviet Union and to let the national minorities achieve independence from Moscow.

In the West, the Polish-sponsored Promethean movement was the best known and the most important of such foreign conceptions. In the East, Japan had its own version of a Promethean movement, although it was inherently an imperialist scheme directed against the Soviet Union. In both movements, Muslims played a critically important, if not central, role. The anti-Moscow Muslim leaders were divided, however, with regard to where they would find the most reliable and the strongest support for their goals. The divisions reflected different views of their identity and of the future. In a rapidly modernizing world, were they to belong to the West (Europe or Occident) or to the East (Asia or Orient) or somewhere else altogether? What was the future for the Eurasian Muslims? The liberal course of the “nation” sponsored by Poland (behind which stood Britain and France) or the pan-Islamic or pan-Turkic movement supported by Japanese imperialism? What was to be done about the successor of the Ottoman Empire, Ataturkian Turkey, which, having distanced itself from pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism, followed a “Western” secular path while seeking a rapprochement with the atheist Soviet Union?

The present essay discusses the clash of these visions that played out in the mid-1930s in the Far East between two Muslim leaders: Mukhamed-Gaiaz Iskhaki (Iskhakov) (Gayaz Isxaqiy, Ayaz Ishaki, Gaiaz Iskhakyi, 1878–1954) and Mukhammed Gabdulkhai Kurbangaliev (Muhammed-Gabdulkhay Kurbangaliev, 1889–1972). It was a critical time for Muslims in Eurasia. In the West, Poland and the Soviet Union had concluded and ratifi ed a non-aggression pact, dashing the Muslim hope for Polish support for anti-Soviet movements. Although Hitler’s regime of explicitly anti-Soviet Nazism emerged in Germany in 1933, its racist ideology was inherently anti-Muslim (and anti-non Aryans). In the East, Japan invaded northeast China (Manchuria) in 1931 and the following year established a puppet government (Manchukuo) which appeared to some Muslims to foreshadow a future of Eurasian Muslims living under Soviet and Chinese imperialism. Yet Manchukuo was the product of Japanese imperialism. Ironically, the end result of the clash between the two Muslim leaders was political triumph for Moscow.

Mukhamed-Gaiaz Iskhaki

Iskhaki was not the most notable among the Muslim leaders in the Promethean movement. He contributed just a few essays to the journal Prométhée, the organ of the movement, as compared to Mustafa Chokaev (Chokai, Shokai, Chokai-ogly, 1890–1941), a Kazakh who wrote much more frequently for the journal. It was, however, Iskhaki, not Chokaev, who engaged the East more directly in the 1930s. As the biographer of Iskhaki, S.M. Iskhakov has noted, Iskhaki remains a somewhat mysterious figure: there are many puzzles and contradictions in his life. Iskhakov (who may be related to the subject of his work), attributes this to the lack of reliable information. Still he concludes that the often-accepted image of Iskhaki as an irreproachable ideological fighter as portrayed in today’s literature is not convincing.2 Who was he, then?

Iskhaki was born in 1878 into a mullah family in the village of Iaushirma (Kutlushkino) near Kazan. He studied in madrasahs and at a teacher’s college in Tatarstan. Exactly when he became politically active is difficult to pinpoint. Iskhaki began to publish early and already by 1899 he was famous, known as “the founder of Tatar literature,” and as a correspondent of Maksim Gor’kii.3 By 1901, when he was only 23, Iskhaki was already involved in illegal political circles. Seeking answers to the “backwardness of the Muslim world,” Iskhaki called on the Tatars to combine the “European path of development” with the spirit of Muslim “reformation.”4 He was sympathetic with the populist party of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, although in 1905 he supported only a cultural union of Muslim peoples and was against the creation of a Muslim political party. After arrest and exile, he fled to Istanbul. He returned to Russia in 1910, only to withdraw to Turkey quickly. He was disappointed, however, by the Young Turks movement, claiming that in Istanbul there was “no Muslim culture at all.” Iskhaki went back to Russia’s capital where he was arrested and sent back into exile. Amnestied on the occasion of the tercentenary (1913) of the Romanov dynasty, Iskhaki returned to St. Petersburg. While engaged in literary writing, he published newspapers and contributed to a journal by the liberal Russian Constitutional Democrats as well.

In 1917 Iskhaki took active part in political life. He spoke against the “national-territorial construction” of Russia and for “national-cultural autonomy.”5 Like many other leaders of the national movements (such as Mykhailo Hrushevs’kyi who subsequently, in 1918, became the first president of the independent Ukrainian National Republic), Iskhaki was reluctant to support the outright independence of his homeland which he called “Idel-Ural.” He advocated instead an “autonomous state.” which, along with other similar states, would join a “Russian federal republic.” Iskhaki’s dream was frustrated, however, by another Muslim leader from Bashkortostan, Zeki Velidi (Akhmet-Zaki Akhmetshakhovich Validov, Zeki Velidi Togan, 1890–1970). Zeki declared his homeland Bashkortostan an autonomous republic independent from Idel-Ural. Velidi himself led a complex political life, at one point joining the Bolshevik party but eventually turning against it in the anti-Soviet Basmachi movement. He subsequently emigrated and led an academic life in Europe and Turkey.6

Velidi has left the following account of Iskhaki in 1917:
[Iskhaki] made fun of the issue of autonomy and even with Ukrainians, wrote: “They are intending to create an independent Xoxlandia. Since we are connected with the Russian people throughout history, we cannot enter into that path. As a delegation of four individuals (Sadri Maksudi, Islam Sahmemedov, Ayaz Ishaki and Sakir Muhammedyar) we went to the head of Government Kniaz L’vov and announced that we do not wish to separate like the Malorus (meaning Ukrainians) from you. We wish to be together with you.”7

This is no doubt a prejudiced account by one of Iskhaki’s old political rivals. However, Iskhaki’s position was not so different from many other national leaders in the former Russian Empire who imagined their nations within the framework of a reconstructed, federated, and democratic Russia.

After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, Iskhaki chose to fight against the Bolsheviks and adhered to the ultimate goal of a democratic and federated Russia. He retreated to Ufa, Petropavlovsk (in Kazakhstan), and Harbin, China. Later he went to Tokyo in 1919 and then moved to Prague and Paris in 1920. In 1921 in Paris he engaged in relief work for the famine victims in Russia along with other émigrés such as Pavel Miliukov. In 1923 Iskhaki moved to Berlin to join his daughter who had managed to reach Berlin from the Soviet Union. In Berlin Iskhaki became part of the anti-Soviet “Turan” club created for the unity of Muslims from the former Russian Empire. Velidi and his supporters also gathered in Berlin. As a result, the club was paralyzed, according to one account.8 According to Velidi, the political views of Iskhaki in European exile had not changed much since 1917.9

At any rate, in 1925 Iskhaki moved to Turkey, from where he went to Finland, and then, in 1927, settled in Warsaw. In Warsaw he headed the “Central Committee of Independent Idel-Ural,” in whose name he joined the Promethean movement.10 It was then, in 1927, that the journal Prométhée began to add Turkestan to its name: “The Organ of the National Defense of the People of the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Turkestan.”11 He also lectured at the Oriental Institute in Warsaw, an institution that served the cause of the Promethean movement.12 Clearly, Iskhaki had abandoned his old political position and now subscribed to the independence of Idel-Ural. According to Velidi, this was an opportunistic move on the part of Iskhaki: “It was especially poignant that Ayaz Ishaki and his friend Omer Teregulov, by joining the Oriental Institute in Warsaw, were forced to show themselves in favor of independence. However, they chose to change the nature of the old ‘unitarism and federalism’ debate into [a] Tatar-Baskurt [Tatar-Bashkir] tribal fight.”13 At any rate, in 1929 Ishaki moved back to Berlin where his daughter was studying. Although in Berlin Iskhaki began to publish a new journal (Milli Yol or “National Road”), he continued to work for the Oriental Institute in Warsaw in the 1930s.14

Iskhaki’s work of this period on Idel-Ural suggests that he may indeed have tailored his view to please the Polish sponsors, as Velidi insinuated. In “An Outlineof the Struggle of the Idel-Ural Tatars for their Independence,” for instance, Iskhaki wrote about the Sultan-Galiev affair in 1929as if the Soviet account were true: Sultan Galiev and those arrested with him had organized a “secret Turkic-Tatar Communist organization” in order to take power in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, the Crimea, and Central Asia. It sought to create a great Turkic-Tatar republic on the ruins of the Soviet Union, with the Crimea to become a separate independent republic. The conspirators entered into negotiations with Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, and Belarusians in order to form a united front against the Bolsheviks.15 It is possible that Iskhaki possessed privileged information through his clandestine contacts with his homeland. Yet in essence he merely and oddly repeated the Soviet propaganda on the clandestine political network in the country, which, although untrue, titillated the Poles. In another essay, “A Historico-Political Essay on the Idel-Ural Republic,” Iskhaki emphasized the central importance of Ukraine, whose victory over the Soviet Union would be the victory of “all nationalities,” a point of central importance to the Poles. Idel-Ural would become Ukraine’s ally.16 It seems as if he knew well exactly what his Polish sponsors wanted to hear from him.

Mukhammed Gabdulkhai Kurbangaliev

Kurbangaliev’s life turned out similarly to Iskhaki’s. Kurbangaliev, like Iskhaki, was born into an imam family in 1890 in the village of Mediak, in today’s Cheliabinsk oblast’. His father was an influential religious leader among the Bashkirs. He studied at a madrasah founded by his father in Mediak. After receiving a degree in “ethics of theology,” Kurbangaliev moved to St. Petersburg, where he became the head of the capital’s “Muslim Circle.” Like Iskhaki and Velidi, Kurbangaliev was caught in the revolutionary upheaval in 1917. He welcomed the February Revolution enthusiastically. Unlike Velidi, however, Kurbangaliev opposed Bashkortostan’s political autonomy (or independence) and supported cultural-spiritual national autonomy within the framework of a single undivided democratic Russia.17

Kurbangaliev’s opposition to the Soviet government led him to work with Admiral Kolchak, Lieutenant-General Vladmir Kappel’, Ataman Semenov, and other White military leaders and to create, with varying degrees of success, Bashkirian national military units within the White forces in the Urals and Siberia. In the Civil War, he lost his father and a brother who were executed by the Bolsheviks. Another brother was killed in a battle against the Bolsheviks. With the surrender of the Kolchak forces in 1920, Kurbangaliev called for his fellow Bashkir fighters to lay down their arms and moved further east, eventually reaching Tokyo in 1920 via Harbin. Kurbangaliev first met a Japanese military intelligence official in Omsk and Chita.18 Captain Jirō Hirasa of the Japanese Army was dispatched to Omsk as early as January 1918 where he appears to have met Kurbangaliev. In 1920 they met again in Chita. Obviously Japan eyed him as a figure for use in the future. With the support of the Japanese Consul in Harbin, he went to Tokyo in November 1920, returning there in February 1921 with ten Bashkir and Tatar officers (including Colonel Sultan-Girei Bikmeev). In Tokyo Kurbangaliev met important Japanese politicians and military leaders. His second trip was enabled by Masatane Kanda, a Soviet specialist who was to become Japan’s military attaché in Istanbul from 1931 to 1934.19

Thus began Kurbangaliev’s collaboration with Japan. In 1922 he was employed as a non-staff member of the Southern Manchurian Railway Company, Japan’s main tool to run Manchuria as its colony. Simultaneously he was in contact with Japan’s intelligence service in Harbin.20 Returning to Tokyo in 1924, he taught the Turkish language at the General Staff. The following year he organized the Muslim Society of Tokyo. In 1927 he founded the fi rst school for Muslims in Japan and in 1928 he created the All-Japan Society of Muslims. There were about 400 Tatars in Japan (about half of them in Tokyo, the remainder in Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, and elsewhere) at the time, working in various trades and in the sale of clothes in particular. In 1929 Kurbangaliev built the first printing house in Japan to publish in the Arabic script and began publishing a journal, Yani Yapon Mohbiri.21

Like Iskhaki in Europe, in Asia Kurbangaliev supported ideas that pleased his sponsors. In Japan, he promoted the idea of the “Ural-Altaic peoples” who would unite under the slogan of a “Great Asia” with Japan as its protagonist, an idea quite different from that he supported in 1917. He took the model from pan-Slavism and called for the revival of the Ural-Altaic peoples. This would require a Fourth International opposed to the Third International (Comintern). His view was strengthened by his meeting in Tokyo in 1922 with the Hungarian scholar Baráthosi Balogh Benedek (1870-1945) who proposed a theory of the Ural-Altaic peoples (among whom he counted Hungarians, Finns, Estonians, Tatars, Bashkirs, Uzbeks, Japanese, Koreans, Mongolians, and others in Eurasia).22 Kurbangaliev began to advocate an “eclectic combination of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism that appealed to Pan-Asianists in Japan, assuring that the vast Turkish populations in the Euro-Asian and North African continents befriended by Japan will aid the achievement of a just future for the peoples of Asia under the leadership of Japan.”23 He thus promoted the slogan “From the Urals to Mt. Fuji.”

How firmly Kurbangaliev held this view of the future is not known. His “Ural-Altaic” vision went far beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. It was not compatible with Iskhaki’s Promethean vision focused on Idel-Ural within the borders of the Soviet Union. In any case, Kurbangaliev found sympathetic friends among Japanese political and military leaders, who in turn, used him for their own strategic purposes. The Japanese strategy was to link and unite Chinese Muslims (including those in Gansu, Shaanxi and Xinjiang) against the Communists of the Soviet Union through Kurbangaliev. With the support of Japan, he worked closely with some Chinese Muslim leaders as well.24

Confrontation in Tokyo

In October 1933 Iskhaki traveled to Japan from Berlin via Shanghai. He carried a Turkish passport (which Japanese authorities strongly suspected was a forgery). The aim of his trip was, according to Iskhaki, to observe how Muslims lived in the Far East. In Warsaw, Iskhaki had been in contact with Japanese intelligence officials (who, in turn, worked together with Polish Intelligence against the Soviet Union). In 1930 he met with Japan’s military attaché Hikosaburō Hata and asked his help in establishing contact with members of the Tatar community in Mukden, China.25 Hata met with many Muslim leaders in Warsaw in 1931–32 and carried out “significant work,” according to Soviet information.26 Iskhaki also appeared to have had contact with Hata’s successor Genzō Yanagita who was stationed in Warsaw from 1932 to 1934.27 It was in fact through Yanagita that Iskhaki received help from Hata back in Tokyo.28 Iskhaki cleared his plan (to unite émigré Muslims in the Far East “in order to overthrow the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union”) with Polish Intelligence.29 The Soviet secret police reported to Stalin that Iskhaki went to Japan with Yanagita’s support in order to sell to the Japanese General Staff a plan to create a Idel-Ural republic under Japanese protection.30

Clearly, Iskhaki’s visit to the Far East was prompted by the rapidly changing international scene both in the West and in the East. Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in September 1931, the foundation of a puppet government Manchukuo in March 1932, and Japan’s recognition of the new state in September 1932 generated a great deal of both anxiety and hope among the nations of Eurasia and beyond. These events prompted the masses of Tatar émigrés in Manchuria to recognize Japan’s political and military might.31 Poland, too, became active in the Far East. In 1932, taking advantage of Ukrainian activism, Władysław Pelc (1911–2002), member of the Ekspozytura II of the Dwójka working at the Polish consulate in Harbin, organized Ukrainians, Georgians and Tatars into a Promethean group in the Far East.32 In the West, in the course of 1932 Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and France concluded a non-aggression pact separately with the Soviet Union. This rapprochement with the Soviet Union disappointed many émigrés, who turned increasingly to Japan for support and inspiration. Ukrainians in Turkey, for instance, submitted to Masatane Kanda, Japanese military attaché in Istanbul, an action plan in the event of war between Japan and the Soviet Union. The plan, dated November 1934, included the creation of special Ukrainian military units in the Far East as well as assassinations of prominent Communists in Soviet Ukraine.33

The Polish government did not officially recognize Manchukuo in view of the strong reaction against it by Western democratic countries. In contrast to them and the League of Nations, the Promethean Club reacted very approvingly: “Dans cette période d’anxiété, de pessimisme, voire méme de découragement que nous traversons, la reconnaisance officielle de l’indépendance de la Mandchourie par le Japon est un événement qui retient l’attention et qui ne manquera pas de réjouir tous les amis de la liberté des peuples.” China, torn by internecine wars, was neither a state nor a nation. There was very little bond among its peoples in terms of race, language or religion. China was chaos and anarchy. Under these circumstances, the danger of Soviet Russia was all important. It had already conquered Outer Mongolia, and had Manchuria in its sight. The new state of Manchukuo, with a population of 30 million and supported morally and materially by a great power (Japan), was a “personalité internationale.” The most important issue was the “liberté du peuple mandchoului-même.”34

Iskhaki was even more enthusiastic about Manchukuo. In an essay published in Japan in 1934, he emphasized the historical struggle of Manchus and Mongols for liberation from Russia and China. He characterized Manchukuo as championing the culture of oriental peoples and Japan as providing spiritual and material support in order to ensure peace in the Far East. The peoples in Manchuria, according to Iskhaki, felt rejuvenated by the foundation of Manchukuo. Iskhaki added that there were approximately two million Muslims (and 10,000 Turco-Tatars) in the new state. His goal was to support the new country on all fronts and to become a happy witness to the “unification and fusion of our Islamic culture and Far Eastern culture.” At the same time Iskhaki promoted the idea of independence for Idel-Ural: just as it was logical for non-Han peoples to be liberated from the Chinese, so it was logical for non-Russian peoples to be freed from Russia, whose future would be a dissolution into republics of nations.35 It seems natural, then, for Japan to welcome Iskhaki’s visit and his support for Manchukuo, although Iskhaki’s plan was limited to Idel-Ural and much less grand than Kurbangaliev’s, which extended much farther to include the “Ural-Altaic peoples.” Therefore, according to Polish Intelligence, at that time Japan began to intensify its activity with the “Turan Society” in Europe.36

Shortly after he arrived in Japan, Iskhaki gave a talk in Tokyo in Turkish (which was translated into Japanese). He made it clear that the Russians were the enemies of the Turco-Tatar people: three-fifths of the estimated 50 to 60 million Turco-Tatars in the world lived under Russian yoke. Iskhaki emphasized that the most nationally conscious group among them was the people of Idel-Ural, whose sentiments were greatly stimulated by Japan’s victory over Russia in 1905. Iskhaki confessed that it was only after the foundation of Manchukuo that he came to understand that Japan actually promoted nationalism. Just as Manchukuo was not part of Han China, neither was Idel-Ural part of Russia. Iskhaki delighted many Japanese by stating that there were two great Asian nations, the Japanese in the east and the Turco-Tatars in the west, whose common enemy was Russia and that Japan’s rise meant the rebirth of Asia.37 Later in 1934, in Hailar, Manchukuo, Iskhaki “stressed the close ties of Tatars, Manchurians, Mongols, and Japanese with [sic] the Genghis Khan Turks, calling all of them ‘children of Genghis Khan’.”38

Yet it was Kurbangaliev, not Iskhaki and his supporters, who had long been established as the Muslim leader in the Far East. Kurbangaliev was the person many Japanese strategists knew well. After the foundation of Manchukuo, Japan began to take the Muslims (and spreading Japan’s influence throughout the Islamic world) much more seriously than before. Facing the Soviet Union along the Manchukuo borders stretching more than 3000 kilometers, Japan dreamed of using the Muslims to advance farther to the west in China towards Gansu, Shaanxi, and Xinjiang where Muslims were prominent or even predominant. Kurbangaliev welcomed the foundation of Manchukuo. In June 1932, Tokyo appears to have organized a secret conference in which Kurbangaliev, representatives of the White Russian émigrés, supporters of Siberian independence, and Japanese strategists took part. It discussed the issue of uniting the Muslims of Japan, Manchukuo, and China. To that end, it was decided to convene a congress in Tokyo, with Kurbangaliev in charge.39 This plan somehow became known to Iskhaki in Europe. It was this plan that appears to have prompted Iskhaki to visit the Far East. The Tokyo scheme entrusted to Kurbangaliev does not appear to have progressed very far or quickly, although Kurbangaliev did visit Manchukuo in late 1932 where he met Muslim leaders from all over Manchukuo. (It was said that measures had already been taken to make all of the 20 million “brethren” scattered along the Russian-Chinese borders into their adherents.)40

Kurbangaliev had every reason to resent the visit of the prominent Tatar from Kazan. Iskhaki was much better known in the Turco-Tatar community and in the world as a writer, intellectual, and politician. He knew both the Orient and the Occident, whereas Kurbangaliev knew only the Orient. Moreover, most of the Tokyo Muslim community were Tatars from the Kazan region, and not, like Kurbangaliev, Bashkirs. Their visions for the future were also different, as discussed earlier.

As soon as Iskhaki arrived in Japan, his supporters and Kurbangaliev’s supporters attacked each other. The former sought to discredit Kurbangaliev by portraying him as a Soviet and American spy! A man with no citizenship could not be trusted. In any case, Iskhaki urged the Turco-Tatar community in Japan to acquire, like himself, Turkish citizenship, which would be very useful in the event of war between Japan and the Soviet Union. Moreover, Iskhaki emphasized, Kurbangaliev and his company maintained close relations with White Russians in Japan, but all Russians, Red or White, were enemies of the Turco-Tatars. In terms of religion, according to Iskhaki, Kurbangaliev and his company practiced “heresy” (the “evil course”) and his (Iskhaki’s) mission, was to lead the Turco-Tatars in the Far East to the “path of righteousness.” In any case, according to Iskhaki, Kurbangaliev was against the Turco-Tatar independence movement and in favor of an “undivided powerful Russia” (a position he apparently had taken in 1917). Because he lacked support among the Turco-Tatar community, he had had to turn to the Russians. Yet a “Russian is an eternal enemy of the Turco-Tatar.” Iskhaki stated in his letter dated 17 March 1934 and addressed it in English to Japan’s Foreign Minister (Kōki Hirota, a former Ambassador of Japan to the Soviet Union): “Idel-Oural will be born in the same way as Poland [and] Estonia were in 1918. Idel-Oural’s birth will be followed by the birth of Turkestan, Confederation of Caucasus, Ukraina [sic] and etc. The unity of Russia will come to the [sic] end. Japanese circles have to consider this situation seriously.”41

Kurbangaliev and his supporters, in turn, contended that it was Iskhaki and his company that served the Russian cause. Iskhaki was a socialist (Socialist-Revolutionary) who knew personally K.K. Iurenev, the current Soviet Ambassador to Japan, from the time of exile before the Revolution. It was Iurenev, via the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo, who supported Iskhaki’s activity.42 Kurbangailev’s anti-Iskhaki campaign was supported by the émigré Russians in Japan and elsewhere who circulated vicious rumors about Iskhaki’s alleged links to Moscow. Japan’s police and intelligence circles were concerned about Iskhaki as well. They possessed information that before he came to Japan, Iskhaki contacted a Communist (“Akhmetos”) in Shanghai and subsequently, when he went to Harbin after Japan, he met a man (“Gurov”) connected to the Soviet secret police. The Japanese police concluded that the sole aim of Iskhaki’s visit to the Far East was to “disturb and divide” the Muslim groups and prevent Japan and Muslim countries from drawing closer.43

In the end, Iskhaki triumphed. From the start, the sympathy of the Turco-Tatar community in the Far East, according to Japanese analysis, appeared to have been more with Iskhaki than with Kurbangaliev. Japan’s Muslim strategists and supporters were not united but divided and were unable to support Kurbangaliev unequivocally. Iskhaki’s insistence that he wanted to unite the Turco-Tatar community (there were some 27 different organizations of them) contrasted well with Kurbangaliev’s apparent enmity towards his rival. Nor did Kurbangaliev’s forceful personality and his supporters’ behavior help them. On 11 February 1934, for instance, when Iskhaki and his supporters had a preparatory meeting for creating the “Cultural Society of Idel-Ural Turco-Tatars” in Tokyo (to which Kurbangaliev was not invited), according to the Japanese police, Kurbangaliev, Colonel F.I. Porotikov (an émigré Russian supporter of Siberian independence) and several other “Russians” (“Drugov,” “Emel’ianov,” both “Russian Fascists,” as well as some Bashkirs) appeared at the meeting. Porotikov and his retinue struck Iskhaki in the head and stomach and choked him “half to death.” They treated some others present to similar violence.44

This incident became known all over Japan, Asia, and beyond, helping Iskhaki to extend and solidify his influence. Shortly after this incident, Iskhaki and his supporters succeeded in founding the “Cultural Society of Idel-Ural Turco-Tatars” in Tokyo. They also took legal action against Kurbangaliev and his supporters to take over their property. The creation of branches of the Idel-Ural Society followed in Kobe, Nagoya, and Kumamoto, Japan. In May 1934 Iskhaki managed to convene the First Kurultay of Japanese Turco-Tatars in Kobe, where his supporters overwhelmed those of Kurbangaliev.45 The Turco-Tatars in Manchukuo (Mukden [today’s Shengyang], Xinjing [today’s Changchun], Harbin, Hailar, and beyond) as well as Tianjin and Shanghai in China followed suit, creating branches of the Idel-Ural Society in their cities and provinces.

Then, in 1935, Iskhaki staged a coup. In February 1935, he and his supporters convened an All-Far East Turco-Tatar Kurultay in Mukden, China (Manchukuo) with forty-one delegates, about 90 (170 according to one report) invited guests, and some 30 journalists. 130 congratulatory telegrams were received by the meeting, including those from The Promethean Club in Warsaw, the Idel-Ural Committee in Berlin, and Ukrainian organizations in Manchukuo. The Kurultay, under Iskhaki’s chair, went so far as to express to the Japanese and the Manchukuo Emperors “Long Live! ” Attacking Kurbangaliev and his circles, Iskhaki called on the Turco-Tatars in the Far East to unite against Russia: unlike the “materialist” European Christian Russians, Turco-Tatars were Asian, “spiritual,” and Islamic. The Congress founded its religious-national center (merkez) in Mukden, elected Iskhaki as its President, and resolved to publish its own organ, Milli Bairaq (National Flag), in Tatar in Arabic script. The Kurultay went out of its way to emphasize its ties to Japan: “schools of Idel-Ural Turco-Tatars” should be organized where they do not exist already, and from the third year, the Japanese language should be taught, and from the fifth year, Japanese history.46

Some 400 issues of the Milli Bairaq were published from 1 November 1935 till 20 March 1945. Japan did not finance the newspaper but subjected it to censorship. The first anniversary issue (no. 51) of the newspaper published contributions by leaders of the Promethean movement (including Mustafa Chokai [Chokaev] and Mammad Amin Rasul-Zade).47

Iskhaki left for Europe via Shanghai in March 1936. When he left, his supporters summarized the significance of Iskhaki’s two-and-a-half-year work in the Far East: “We liquidated all enemies, all communities created on a rotten basis were destroyed and new ones were established. . . . . Our national interests and independence are linked tight[ly] with other nations; we have close relations and friendship with them. They are Georgians, Ukrainians, Caucasians, and Turkestanis, etc.”48 This was a victory declaration for the Promethean movement, a rival movement for Japan’s pan-Islamic movement. Understandably, the Japanese reports hardly ever mentioned Iskhaki’s link to the Promethean movement. In contrast, during his stay in the Far East Iskhaki explicitly noted his links to and support for the Promethean movement.49 At the Mukden Kurultay, for instance, Iskhaki was reported to have “called for friendship with Prometheus and Asian nations under the leadership of the Japanese.”50 After Iskhaki’s return to Europe, the journal Prométhée also published a triumphal essay about his long journey to the Far East.51

Thus, the net result of Iskhaki’s journey turned out to be the division of the Muslim organizations in the Far East in decisive favor of the Promethean movement. The Russian historian S.M. Iskhakov has recently also reached a similar conclusion: Iskhaki “objectively prevented the rapprochement of aggressive anti-Soviet Russian émigré circles and ‘White’ Tatars.”52 Kurbangaliev was not politically destroyed completely, because he still enjoyed some support in Japanese military circles. Yet his influence among the Turco-Tatar community declined sharply. Ultimately he was banished from Japan (with a generous financial gift) in 1938, just before the first mosque was opened in Tokyo. In the meantime, Japanese authorities found the Idel-Ural society untrustworthy politically. They found many “pro-Soviet” members there. Some were arrested in Tokyo as Soviet spies.53 In 1939, the newspaper Milli Bairaq was briefly suspended for publishing an article disagreeing with the idea of Japan’s “Great Prosperity Sphere.”54


Iskhaki was not the only Muslim leader who came to Japan in 1933. Abdrashid Ibragimov (Abdürreşid Ibrahim, 1857–1944), a Tatar from Western Siberia, Russia, had already visited Japan before the Russo-Japanese War. In the wake of Japan’s victory over Russia, Ibragimov wrote about Japan and Islam, predicting (more correctly, expressing his wishful thinking) that the Japanese nation might convert to Islam. In 1908–10 he visited Japan again, met many influential Japanese, and praised Japan as a force that could help the Muslim peoples to be liberated from the European yoke.55 Japan, in turn, found Ibragimov useful for future war against Russia and provided financial support to him.56 Ibragimov worked for the Ottomans during World War One. Sometime after the October Revolution in Russia, he returned to Russia and worked with the Soviet government. In 1923 he returned to Turkey, where he became politically suspect for his alleged pan-Turkism and anti-Kemalism. Yet sometime before 1933, Kanda, Japan’s military attaché in Istanbul, sought the old friend of Japan out. Kanda arranged for Ibragimov to return to Japan and help Japan’s strategy towards the Muslims. Ibragimov thus arrived almost simultaneously with Iskhaki, in October 1933.57

Even before he arrived Japan, Iskhaki had attacked Ibragimov as a Soviet agent, particularly for his alleged pro-Soviet propaganda.58 Iskhaki repeated his accusations in 1934 after both arrived in Japan.59 Iskhaki even insisted that Ibragimov came to Japan before the Russo-Japanese War as a Russian spy.60 Where Ibragimov’s loyalty actually resided is difficult to determine. Before he left Turkey for Japan, according to Kanda, Japan’s military attaché in Istanbul, President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk himself invited Ibragimov for a conversation. The President expressed his concern about the situation in Xinjiang, where Turkey was not in a position to do anything. In five years at the latest, Turkey would be able to work with Japan on “Asian questions.” Therefore he asked Ibragimov to establish an exchange of students with Japan. Kanda cautioned Tokyo of Turkey’s ulterior motives.61

It appears that Atatürk’s anxiety about Xinjiang (Chinese or Eastern Turkesta) was the key to the journey of Iskhaki and Ibragimov to Japan in 1933. Ankara was deeply disquieted by Japan’s Islamic policy in Asia, where Turkey felt overwhelmed by Japan’s influence. Most importantly, Turkey suspected that Japan, at least some powerful military and political circles, wanted to create a second, “Muslim Manchukuo” in China’s Muslim areas, in Xinjiang in particular. Moreover, like Japan and Manchukuo, the new “Muslim Manchukuo” would become a monarchy with a king from the old Imperial House of Osman, an explicitly anti-Kemalist move on the part of Japan.62 In May 1933, in the midst of Muslim rebellions in Xinjiang, an Ottoman prince, Sehzade Abdülkerim Efendi (1904–1935, grandson of the Pan-Islamic Sultan Abdülhamid II) arrived in Japan63 At the same time, Mehmed Rauf (Kırkanahtar), “an active member of the Turkish secret service of the Republic, also arrived in Tokyo in 1933 and started teaching Arabic and Turkish in Tokyo.”64 From July 1933 to the spring of 1934 Abdülkerim toured China along with Japanese sponsors. Even though he denied it repeatedly, the world, especially Ankara and Moscow, suspected that Abdülkerim was there to be installed as the king of an independent East Turkestan in the making.65

Moscow suspected, furthermore, that the Muslim rebellions taking place in Xinjiang since 1931 were instigated and supported by Japan.66 Moscow also reckoned correctly that both Kurbangaliev and Abdülkerim were helping Japan to extend its influence to Xinjiang and that Japan’s influence in Xinjiang would spill over into Soviet Central Asia (Soviet Turkestan).67 With Japan’s imperial ambitions in mind, Moscow made the decision, in opposition to the wishes of the Comintern, “not to help the rebels but instead to assist the Chinese government by providing weapons and even aircrafts.” In 1933 Stalin “went so far as to dispatch, clandestinely, special military forces to Xinjiang to crush the rebellions.”68 In the end, the rebellions failed, and the Han (Chinese) control of Xinjiang was restored with Moscow’s help. Efendi’s and Japan’s scheme did not succeed. Abdülkerim Efendi left the Far East after the Xinjiang rebellions were crushed, and died a mysterious death in New York City in 1935.69

As Japan’s imperial policy shifted without clear direction, Kurbangaliev was forced to move to Manchuria in 1938, and in 1945 he was arrested by the Soviet forces and died in the Soviet Union. Ibragimov never found a proper place among the Muslim community in Japan except as its symbolic figurehead. He died in Tokyo in 1944.

One can conclude that Iskhaki’s trip to the Far East turned out to have fulfilled the desires of both Ankara and Moscow. Such was not the direct aim of the Promethean movement. All the same, Iskhaki’s trip was a great success for the Promethean movement. (Japan did not attack the Promethean movement, which it still deemed useful in its strategy against the Soviet Union.) Many circles in Japan suspected that despite his pro-Japan and pro-Manchukuo rhetoric, Iskhaki in fact acted on behalf of the Soviet Union to divide the Turco-Tatar community in the Far East and frustrate Japan’s ambition in Xinjiang.70

Whatever the case, the success for the Promethean movement in the East was illusory. In August 1937, Pelc, now based in Paris, recognized a serious crisis in the Promethean movement in the West, which appeared to him to be eclipsed by national democrats such as Haidar Bammat (1890–1965) supported by Japan. Iskhaki even criticized the Georgians and Ukrainians in the promethean movement for their alleged lack of will to achieve the independence of their countries, whereas he and his comrades always stood for “integral nationalism” free of socialist influence.71 The Prometheans harshly criticized Japan as well. Iskhaki’s colleague, Chokai, for instance, sharply attacked Japan’s imperial ambitions that used Pan-Islamism. In 1937, when Xinjiang failed again to liberate itself from Chinese control, Chokai denounced Japan for empty propaganda which made it easy for Moscow to crush the rebels by providing military forces to the Chinese.72 In the following year, in a conversation with a Japanese diplomat in Geneva, Chokai again criticized Japan’s support of pan-Islamism as anachronistic: it used to be important when the majority of Islams lived under the yoke of imperial powers, but now it only aroused the suspicions of Britain, France, and “Russia” (the Soviet Union) and antagonized Turkey, Iran, and others on their way to establishing their nation states.73

Chokai’s criticism was well taken except that it was very odd for a Promethean to group the Soviet Union with Britain and France. This did not prevent Moscow from accusing Chokai of being an agent of Japanese imperialism!74 It is likely that Chokai was intimidated and deeply disturbed by Stalin’s terror directed against so many people inside the Soviet Union for their alleged links to Iskhaki, Chokai, Kurbangaliev, and other émigré fighters. (It is also likely that, even earlier, Iskhaki had similarly been broken into ideological capitulation by Stalin’s terror.) Surely Moscow, the foe of the Promethean movement, must have been delighted by the irony of being coupled with Britain and France, the supporters of the Promethean movement! It was this that signified the real crisis for the Promethean movement.

Meanwhile, Japan and Poland continued to work closely against the Soviet Union. After signing in 1932 a non-aggression pact with Moscow, Warsaw pursued “balanced diplomacy” by signing a similar treaty with Berlin in 1934. Whereas Japan did not officially join the Promethean movement, Poland strove to “disturb” Soviet-French and Soviet-British relations as much as possible, because although its goal was to isolate the Soviet Union, it was not strong enough to break the “Soviet-French alliance” (referring to the Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance of 1935).75 It appears that Moscow proved adept at politically disrupting Poland in the West and Japan in the East, the most prominent supporters of émigré Muslim ambitions in the 1930s. The Muslim leaders found themselves caught in the intrigues of international politics.

Prof. Hiroaki Kuromiya – historian, professor at the Department of History, Indiana University Bloomington, he specializes in the history of the Soviet Union and Ukraine. He is an author of numerous works devoted to Stalinism as well as Japanese-Polish and Japanese-Caucasian anti-Soviet cooperation.

Prof. Andrzej Pepłoński – historian, head of the Department of National Security at the Pomeranian University in Słupsk. He specializes in Poland’s modern history, especially military and intelligence history.

1 Calculated from Vsesoiuznaia perepis’ naseleniia 1937 goda: kratkie itogi (Moscow: Institut istorii SSSR AN SSSR, 1991), pp. 106–115. Only individuals older than 16 years of age were counted.

2 S. M. Iskhakov, “Mukhamed-Gaiaz Iskhaki: iz politicheskoi biografii pisatelia,” Voprosy istorii, 2004, no. 8, pp. 11–12.

3 See Azat Akhunov, “Gaiaz Iskhaki ‘Kto on? Kto on, kto nashu natsiiu vzrastil? ” Tatarskii mir, 2004, no. 3 ( article=489&section=0&heading=0 [accessed 14 September 2012]).

4 Ibid., p. 3.

5 Before 1917, Iskhaki appears to have subscribed to the notion of “Turanianism.” See Larissa Usmanova, The Turk-Tatar Diaspora in Northeast Asia: Transformation of Consciousness. A Historical and Sociological Account between 1898 and the 1950s (Tokyo: Rakudasha, 2007), p. 29.

6 See S.M. Iskhakov, “Akhmed-Zakki Validov: noveishaia literatura i fakty ego politicheskoi biografii,” Voprosy istorii, 2003, no. 10.

7 Zeki Velidi Togan, Memoirs: National Existence and Cultural Struggles of Turkestan and Other Muslim Eastern Turks (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2012), p. 135. See also p. 178.

8 Iskhakov, p. 8.

9 Velidi Togan, pp. 464–66.

10 Iskhakov, p. 9.

11 See Promethee, no. 8 (June-July 1927). Emphasis added.

12 For Iskhaki at the Oriental Institute, see Ireneusz Piotr Maj, Działalność Instytutu Wschodniego w Warszawie 1926–1939 (Warsaw: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN-Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm-Fundacja “Historia i Kultura,” 2007), p. 87.

13 Velidi Togan, p. 465.

14 Maj, pp. 74–76 and 262.

15 Ayaz Ishaki, “Apercu de la lutte de Tatars de l’Odel-Oural pour leur independance,” Promethee, no. 78 (May 1933), p. 26.

16 “Mukhamed-Gaiaz Iskhaki: iz politicheskoi biografii pisatelia,” Voprosy istorii, 2004, no. 9, p. 19.

17 Here and below we rely mainly on Katsunori Nishiyama, “Musl’mane v Iaponii,” Vatanadash, 1999, no. 10, pp. 188-94, and Aislu Iunusova, “ ‘Velikii imam Dal’nego Vostoka’: Mukhammed-Gabdulkhai Kurbangaliev,” Vestnik Evrazii, 2001, no. 4, pp. 83–116.

18 Katsunori Nishiyama, “Kurubangarī tsuijin: mō hitotsu no ‘jichi’ o motomete” [In Pursuit of Kurbangaliev: Yet Another “Autonomy”], Slavic Eurasian Studies: Occasional Papers, no. 3 (Asia in Russia/Russia in Asia [1]), 2004, pp. 43, 45, and 57.

19 Ibid., p. 57 and Nishiyama, “Musl’mane v Iaponii,” p. 191.

20 See Shiōden Nobutaka kaikoroku (Memoirs of Shiōden Nobutaka) (Tokyo: Misuzu shobō, 1964), p. 118.

21 Nishiyama, “Musl’mane v Iaponii,” p. 190 and Katsunori Nishiyama, “Kurubangarī tsuijin: kokusai jōsei ni taikishite (1)” ( In Pursuit of Kurbangaliev: The International Situation (1)), Kokusai kankei hikaku bunka kenkyū, 4:2 (2006), p. 85.

22 See Kurubangariev [Kurbangaliev], “Indo-yōroppa minzoku to uraru-arutai minzoku” [The Indor-European and the Ural-Altaic Races], Manmō, 1924, no. 8, pp. 29–40.

23 Selcuk Esenbel, “Japan and Islam Policy during the 1930s,” Bert Edstrom (ed.), Turning Points in Japanese History (Richmond: Japan Library, 2002), p. 183.

24 Note the fi rst-hand account: Shimano Saburō, Mantetsu soren jōhō katsudōka no shōgai [Saburō Shimane: The life of a Soviet Intelligence Man at the Southern Manchurian Railway Company] (Tokyo: Hara shobō, 1984), pp. 463–64.

25 Hiroaki Kuromiya and Andrzej Pepłoński, Między Warszawą a Tokio: Polsko-Japońska współpraca wywiadowcza 1904–1944 (Toruń: Adam Marszałek, 2009), p. 85.

26 Arekusei [Aleksei] Kirichenko , “Kominterun to Nihon, sono himitsu chōhōsen o abaku” [The Comintern and Japan: Revelations of the Secret Intelligence War], Seiron, 2006, no. 10, p. 109.

27 Usmanova, p. 28.

28 Hata soon left for Moscow to take the position of military attache and may not have been familiar with Iskhaki’s subsequent activity in Japan and China. After World War Two Hata was taken to the Soviet Union as a prisoner of war and was harshly interrogated about Iskhaki’s activity. See Hikosaburō Hata, Kunan ni taete [Enduring Hardships] (Tokyo: Nikkan rōdō tsūshin sha, 1958), p. 141.

29 Nishiyama, “Kurubangarī tsuijin: kokusai jōsei ni taikishite (1),” p. 90.

30 Lubianka. Stalin i VChK-GPU-OGPU-NKVD: ianvar’ 1922–dekabr’ 1936 (Moscow: MFD, 2003), p. 521.

31 An observation by a Japanese linguist in Manchuria: Shirō Hattori, Ichi gengogakusha no zuisō [A Linguist’s Essay] (Tokyo: Kyūko shoin, 1992), pp. 10–11.

32 Hiroaki Kuromiya, Paweł Libera, and Andrzej Pepłoński), “O współpracy polsko-japońskiej wobec ruchu Prometejskiego raz jeszcze,” Zeszyty historyczne, v. 170 (2009), p. 119.

33 Reproduced in Trudy Obshchsetva izucheniia istorii otechestvennykh spetssluzb, t. 2 (Moscow: Kuchkovo pole, 2006), pp. 122-126.

34 Editorial: “L’independance de la Mandchourie,” Promethee, no. 71 (October 1932), pp. 1–2.

35 Ayasu Isuhaki, “Toruko-tataru minzoku no tachiba kara Manshūkoku no dokuritsu o miru” [A look at the independence of Manchukuo from the point of view of the Turco-Tatar Race], Tōyō, 37:1 (1934), pp. 103–7. This essay appears to have been translated from his essay published in the journal he edited in Berlin.

36 Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv (RGVA, Moscow), f. 308k, op. 19, d. 31, ll. 88-88ob (19 September 1933 report from Moscow to Warsaw). What exactly the “Turan Society” refers to is not clear. The Polish diplomat in Moscow presented it as similar to “nasz Prometeusz.” Obviously it refers to Japan’s association with Soviet minorities, especially Muslims.

37 Ayasu Isuhaki, “Rosiya ni okeru toruko-tataru minzoku no dokuritsu undō ni tsuite” [On the Turco-Tatar Independence Movement in Russia], Tōyō, 37:4 (1934), pp. 97–106.

38 Usmanova, pp. xxvii and 36.

39 Nishiyama, “Kurubangarī tsuijin: kokusai jōsei ni taikishite (1),” p. 89 (based on information of Soviet Intelligence).

40 The Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (National Archives of Japan; hereafter JACAR): (B04012533000), pp. 20–21.

41 See JACAR, B04012533000 p. 25, 53-55, and B04012533100, pp. 247–53, and passim.

42 Usmanova, p. 101.

43 JACAR, B0401253300, passim, especially pp. 28–30. For Iskhaki’s visit to Shanghai, see Usmanova, pp. 155–56.

44 JACAR, B0401253300, pp. 110–11, 117–21.

45 For Iskhaki’s activity in Japan and China, see Usmanova, chs. 3 and 4, and Akira Matsunaga, “Ayazu Ishakī to kyokutō no tatārujin komyunitī” [Gaiaz Iskhaki and the Tatar Community in the Far East] in Masaru Ikei and Tsutomu Sakamoto (eds), Kindai nihon to Toruko sekai [Modern Japan and the Turkic World] (Tokyo: Keisō shobō, 1999), ch. 7. For an English summary of Matsunaga’s work, see idem, “Ayaz Ishaki and Turco-Tatars in the Far East,” in Selcuk Esenbel and Inaba Chiharu (eds), The Rising Sun and the Turkish Crescent: New Perspectives on the History of Japanese Turkish Relations (Istanbul: Bogăzic University Press, 2003), pp. 197–215.

46 See JACAR, B04013197200, and Usmanova, pp. 39–46.

47 Usmanova, pp. 68–69. The secret police in Kazan wrongly claimed that Iskhaki’s Idel-Ural Society was financed by Japan. See Neizvestnyi Sultan-Galiev: rassekrechennye dokumenty i materialy (Kazan’: Tatarskoe kn. izdanie, 2002), p. 401.

48 Quoted in Usmanova, pp. 163–64.

49 See JACAR, B04013197200.

50 Usmanova, pp. 43-44.

51 “Ayas Ishaki en Europe,” Promethee, no. 114 (May 1936), pp. 19–20.

52 Iskhakov, p. 16. Iskhakov states that Iskhaki did not call on his co-religionists to overthrow the Soviet government (p. 16).

53 See, for example, Gokuhi: Gaiji keisatsu gaikyō [Top Secret: Police Summaries of Foreign Affairs], vol. 2 (1936), pp. 134–37.

54 Usmanova, p. 70.

55 See Abdurrechid Ibrahim Un Tatar au Japan – voyage en Asie (1908–1910), tr. and ed. Francois Georgeon (Arles: Actes Sud, 2004).

56 See the diary entries of the Chief of Japan’s Military Intelligence in 1909 to 1912 discussing Ibragimov: Nihon rikugun to Ajia seisaku: rikugun taishō Utsunomiya Tarō nikki [The Asian Policy of the Japanese Army: The Diary of Army General Tarō Utsunomiya], vol. 1 (Tokyo: Iwanami, 2007), pp. 235–36, 243, 321 and vol. 2 (Tokyo: Iwanami, 2007), p. 248.

57 See Tsutomu Sakamoto, “Abudyurureshito Iburahimu no sairainichi to mō kyō seikenka no isrāmu seisaku” [The Return of Abdurreşid Ibrahim to Japan and the Islamic Policy of the Manchu-Mongol government], Tsutomu Sakamoto (ed.), Nitchū sensō to isrāmu: manmō, ajia chiiki ni okeru tōchi kaijū seisaku [The Sino-Japanese War and Islam: Japan’s Policy of Governance and Conciliation in Manchuria, Mongolia and Asia] (Tokyo: Keiō University Press, 2008), p. 32.

58 Ayas Ishaky, “Pelerins rouge ou la duplicite des bolcheviks,” Promethee, no. 52 (March 1931), pp. 21–24.

59 Iskhakov, p. 12.

60 JACAR, B04012533000, p. 54.

61 JACAR, B02031844200 (26 July 1933 telegram from Kanda).

62 See JACAR, B04012533000, p. 57, 59–61, B04012533100, pp. 197–8.

63 See Merutohan Djundaru (Merthan Dundar), “Osuman kōzoku Abdjurukerimu no rainichi” [The Visit to Japan by Osman Prince Abdulkerim], in Sakamoto (ed.), Nitchū sensō to isrāmu, p. 157.

64 Esenbel, “Japan and Islam Policy during the 1930s,” p. 201 and idem, “Japan’s Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power, 1900–1945,” The American Historical Review, 109:4 (2004), p. 1160.

65 In addition, Tewfi k Pasha of Saudi Arabia, who had been fighting in Xinjiang, also arrived in Japan in 1933. See Fujio Komura, Nihon isrāmu shi [History of Islam in Japan] (Tokyo: Nihon isrāmu yūkō renmei, 1988), p. 81.

66 Whether Japan materially assisted the Xinjiang Muslims cannot be confirmed.

67 Soviet intelligence officers sent voluminous reports on Japan’s suspected moves in Xinjiang. See, for example, RGVA, f. 33879, op. 1, d. 510 and d. 879. See also Lubianka, p. 521 and Kuromiya and Pepłoński, pp. 312–13.

68 See Hiroaki Kuromiya, “The Soviet Famine of 1932–33 Reconsidered,” Europe-Asia Studies, 60:4 (June 2008), pp. 670–71.

69 See Djundaru, pp. 161–62.

70 JACAR, B04012533100, pp. 317–18 and Matsunaga, “Ayazu Ishakī,” pp. 243–44.

71 See Georges Mamoulia, Les combats independandistes des Caucasiens entre URSS et puissances occidentales: Le cas de la Georgie (1921–1945) (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2009), p. 179.

72 Mustafa Chokai’s bitter denunciation of Japan: Centralne Archiwum Wojskowe (Warsaw), I.303.4.5500 (5 November 1937). In February 1936, when Iskhaki was stranded in the Far East owing to suspicions about his passport, Chokai intervened on his behalf with the Japanese Embassy in Paris. See JACAR, B04012533100, pp. 319–20.

73 JACAR, B02031852300 (1 June 1938 from Geneva to Tokyo). This conversation is not examined by extant works on Chokaev. See, for example, Bakhyt Sadykova, Mustafa Tchokay dans le mouvement prometheen (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007).

74 See Bakhyt I. Sadykova, “Politicheskoe znachenie idei Mustafa Chokaia dlia konsolidatsii turkestanskogo obshchestva (stran Tsentral’noi Azii),” Dokt. diss. (Almaty, 2009), pp. 129, 177, and 178.

75 This extraordinarily candid account of Polish politics was revealed in a conversation between Polish Promethean leaders and a Japanese diplomat in Warsaw in 1938. See Gaimushō gaikō shiryō kan (Tokyo), B.1.0.0.Po/R (11 May 1938 secret telegram from Warsaw to Tokyo in four parts). See also Hiroaki Kuromiya and Paweł Libera, “Notatka Włodzimierza Bączkowskiego na temat współpracy polsko-japońskiej wobec ruchu prometejskiego (1938),” Zeszyty historyczne, v. 169 (2009), p. 128.