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A Monarchist Solution for Russia

Published: October 18, 2005 (Issue # 1114)


When former Soviet bloc countries shook off the one-party state and rejoined the community of nations, it seemed self-evident that they should all remain republics. Attempts in Bulgaria to restore a legitimate sovereign to the throne produced ironic sniggers in civilized quarters.

In Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, monarchist movements have never been anything but a fringe element, even if it has now been acknowledged that its liberal democracy has failed. Elections for governors have been abolished, and while the president and the State Duma are still elected, the process increasingly resembles Soviet-era rubber-stamping. Yet, for all the criticism of Vladimir Putins power vertical, there has never been any question about whether or not Russia should remain a republic.

Nevertheless, the restoration of a legitimate monarchy, with a sovereign drawn from one of the Romanov heirs, may hold out a solution to a variety of Russias problems. First and foremost, it is the question of identity that holds the key to Russias future. Post-communist Russia has always been an organic outgrowth of the Soviet system. Russia has never found a way to acknowledge and condemn the crimes committed by the Bolshevik regime, and it is unlikely that it will ever undergo any form of de-Stalinization. Reaching back to the monarchy, then, Russia could finally connect to its pre-communist history and turn the page on the tragedy of Bolshevism.

More importantly, ever since the October 1917 coup, Soviet rulers had trouble legitimizing their rule. Their justification was Marxist historical necessity, which quickly proved to be a sham. The legitimacy problem clearly lingers on. Today, it is a staple of official propaganda to contrast Putins strong, purposeful Russia with Boris Yeltsins chaos and drift.

Lack of legitimacy is the root of the 2008 succession problem. Having undermined liberal democracy, the Putin administration has deprived itself of the legitimacy of the ballot box. And, lacking legitimacy itself, it cannot bequeath it to a rightful heir. The next ruler will have to seek his own legitimacy most likely, by heaping abuse on Putin and his cohorts.

A constitutional monarchy could provide the continuity that republican Russia has lacked for nearly a century. It could also be a solution for the succession issue. With United Russia dominating the Duma, there is no limit to how many terms a Prime Minister Putin could end up serving.

Today, advocating monarchy is a thankless task. Republics not only predominate among the 191 members of the United Nations, but the view that the state is better off when headed by an elected politician is probably the most widely shared political idea of our otherwise contentious age.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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