Other steps taken by Putin during his first two terms as President between 2000 and 2004 were generally marked by the same sovereign, Eurasian spirit. This approach, clearly followed in the Second Chechen War, was developed and consolidated in a series of reforms that changed the political, ideological, and geopolitical course along which the country had been moving under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The main symbolic acts in Putin’s reforms, endowed with clear geopolitical content, were the following:
- Censure of the policy taken in the 1990s toward the de-sovereignization of Russia and the virtual introduction of foreign rule, with a corresponding proclamation of sovereignty as contemporary Russia’s highest value;
- The strengthening of the shaken territorial unity of the Russian Federation through a series of measures, including firm military actions against the Chechen separatists, the consolidation of Moscow’s position in the North Caucasus on the whole, and the introduction of seven Federal Districts with the goal of excluding separatist attempts anywhere in Russia; the elimination of the concept of “sovereignty” in the legislative acts of subjects of the Federation and national republics, and the transition to a system of appointing the heads of the Federation’s subjects instead of the old model of electing them (this measure was introduced after the tragic events in Beslan, when middle school children became hostages of the terrorists).
- The banishment of the most odious oligarchs, who had been virtually all-powerful in the 1990s, out of the country (B. Berezovsky, V. Gusinsky, L. Nevzlin) and the criminal persecution of others for the crimes they committed (M. Khodorkovsky, P. Lebedev, etc.); the nationalization of several large raw-materials monopolies, while compelling the oligarchs to play the game according to the government’s rules by recognizing the legitimacy of the policy of strengthening Russia’s sovereignty;
- A frank and often impartial dialogue with the USA and the West, with a condemnation of double standards, American hegemony and the unipolar world, contrasted with an orientation toward multipolarity and a cooperation with all forces (in particular, with continental Europe) interested in opposing American hegemony;
- A change in the information policy of the major national media, which used to broadcast the views of their oligarchic owners, but were now called on to take government interests into account;
- A reconsideration of the nihilistic attitude toward Russian history that then prevailed, based on the uncritical acceptance of the Western liberal-democratic approach, through inculcating respect for and deference toward Russian history’s most significant landmarks and figures (in particular, the establishment of the new holiday, November 4, The Day of National Unity, in honor of the liberation of Moscow from Polish-Lithuanian occupation by the Second People’s Militia);
- Support for the processes of integration in the post-Soviet space and the commencement of Russia’s operations in the countries of the CIS; also the formation or resuscitation of integrating structures, such as the “Eurasian Economic Community,” the “Collective Security Treaty Organization,” the “Common Economic Space,” etc.;
- The normalization of party life by prohibiting oligarchic structures from political lobbying on behalf of their private and corporate interests using the parliamentary parties;
- The elaboration of a consolidated government policy in the sphere of energy resources, which transformed Russia into a mighty energy state capable of influencing economic processes in the neighboring regions of Europe and Asia; plans for laying gas and oil pipelines to the West and the East became a visible expression of the energy geopolitics of the new Russia, repeating the main force-lines of classical geopolitics on a new level.
- These reforms elicited stiff resistance from the forces oriented toward the West and the civilization of the Sea in the era of Yeltsin and Gorbachev which comprised, either consciously or unconsciously, a network of agents of influence of thalassocracy, carriers of the liberal-democratic worldview and global-capitalist tendencies. This resistance to Putin’s course was manifest in opposition from the Right-wing parties (Yabloko, Pravoe Delo); in the appearance of a new, radical opposition of the ultraliberal and openly pro-American kind, sponsored by the USA and Western funds (“Dissenters”); in the intense anti-Russian actions of the oligarchs who had been removed from power; in pressure from the USA and the West on the Kremlin to prevent the development of this trend; in the active resistance to the strategy of the Russian Federation in the CIS on the side of pro-Western, pro-American forces, such as the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, the “Rose Revolution” in Tbilisi, Moldova’s anti-Russian policy, and so forth.
Putin and his policy expressed the geopolitical, sociological, and ideological tendencies corresponding, mostly, to the main features of the civilization of Land and to the constants of Russian geopolitical history. If the actions of Gorbachev and Yeltsin were in glaring conflict with the trajectory of Russian geopolitics, then Putin’s rule, on the contrary, restored Russia’s traditional path, returning it to its customary continental, tellurocratic orbit. Thus, with Putin, the Heartland got a new historic opportunity, and the process of establishing a unipolar world hit a real obstacle. It became clear that despite all the weakness and confusion, Russia-Eurasia did not ultimately disappear from the geopolitical map of the world and is still, though in a reduced condition, the core of an alternative civilization, the civilization of Land.
The above text is an excerpt from Alexander Dugin’s Last War of the World-Island (Arktos, 2015). If you liked this selection, be sure to check out the whole book.
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