Central Asia since Independence

Central Asia since Independence

Central Asia since Independence

Central Asia since Independence

Synopsis

A noted expert in Eurasian studies examines the nationalist, ethnic, and pro-independence movements in and among the new Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union.

Excerpt

In the general euphoria brought about by the collapse of communism in 1991, it was commonly assumed that Russia had wholeheartedly adopted the principles of Western democracy. The excesses of past colonial rule were blamed on the Soviet apparat, not on the Russian appetite for imperial power. It was naively assumed that Russia's influence on Central Asia would be positive: it would be a conduit for democratic and liberal institutions in countries still influenced by "Eastern and Islamic despotism," while Russian peace-keeping forces would prevent bloody tribal and ethnic conflicts.

A year after the downfall of the USSR, Moscow began to reassert its influence on its former colonies. In September 1992, President Yeltsin, during a widely quoted speech to the Duma (reproduced by Izvestia, September 4, 1992), demanded that Russia be given "special plenipotentiary rights" as "the only guarantor of peace and stability in the Former Soviet Union." During an October 1992 visit to Dushanbe, former minister of foreign affairs Andrei Kozyrev declared in an address to the Tajik government that "a total disengagement from Tajikistan would be counter to the national interests of Russia. . . . Whereas in the past the presence of Russia was considered as the expression of imperialism, we must now change our perceptions. Russia must act as a peace-keeper. . . . Today the struggle for influence serves . . .

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