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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 Putin’s “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 Russia’s problems. First and foremost, it is the question of identity that holds the key to Russia’s 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 Putin’s strong, purposeful Russia with Boris Yeltsin’s 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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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