KREMLIN BEAR

KREMLIN BEAR

Mon, 09/01/2008 - 11:58

Russia's new masters are pursuing policies of controlled destabilisation in the "Near Abroad"

While the world was remembering both the erection of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia - and as Vagabond was going to press - the West's "idyllic relationship" with Russia came to an abrupt end: Russia attacked Georgia. Most of the West was outraged - Bulgaria offered to "broker" an agreement. Russia with its gas and oil in 2008 is not the Russia with the hyperinflation of the 1990s.

But the unpleasant truth remains that there are very minor traces of democracy in Russia, and that these are easily being violated by the Kremlin whenever it wants to promote the expansionist policies of its former and current energy bosses.

To assert that Russia has never been more democratic than it is now would be like trying to explain why Albania has never had more cars than it does now: under Communism private cars (in the case of Albania) and democracy (in the case of Russia) were banned.The West, of which Bulgaria is a member now, must call the spade a spade. The EU, including Bulgaria, must quickly assess what it can give up in its relationship with Russia in terms of state guarantees, suspended contracts and first and foremost the creeping energy dependence. Bulgaria is not as near to Russia as Georgia is, but it clearly falls within Russia's strategic sphere of interest.

The Kremlin has been reluctant to allow Bulgaria to become a member of NATO and the kind of economic policies it conducts in Bulgaria are not necessarily in the interest of the EU. Yet the fact remains that from a happy victim under Communism, Bulgaria is now emerging as a happy accomplice. The pun may seem to be a bit farfetched, but it isn't: just look at the Russian property buyers who now outnumber the British.

Issue 24

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