October 26, 2006 (the date of publication in Russian)
Old royal games behind the strange rightist-leftist ferment in Europe?
AN ODOUR OF INTRIGUE
One can't say that the Baltic states were not prepared to the arrival of Queen Elisabeth II. Already in summer, international media reported about her plans to visit all the three former Soviet republics. Still, on the day of arrival, the whole Tallin bureaucracy got confused: the air above Estonia's capital was not "purfickly clean".
As Delfi agency commented – without Delphic delicacy – Tallin was "greeting the Queen with a heavy stink".
One can't say that the Baltic states were not concerned over the environment. Unlike many other ex-USSR countries, Estonia's political spectrum includes a rather popular Green Party. Which peacefully coincides with mushrooming chemical enterprises and, especially, for export of relevant commodities. Recently, Estonia also signed an agreement with Sweden, suggesting – as local press sadly mocked – "exchange of Estonian shale oil for Swedish waste".
The fact is that in any large-scale estate – in this case, the European Union – waste is piled near the backside fence. It is similarly true that in the newly-accepted EU member states, it is easier to recruit cheap qualified labor force. Still, the October stink was rising rather from hot domestic policy affairs.
Shortly before the Queen's visit, the Ministry of Natural Resources found itself in the midst of a scandal around land swindle. In late September, a new scandal followed: on a complaint from Greenpeace, the police searched a ship, arriving in the port of Paldiski from Africa's western coast, and discovered a cargo of high toxic chemical substance. As a result, Minister Villu Reiljan was forced to resign.
The disgraced minister was also a prominent political figure. It was Reiljan who struck an alliance of the Popular Union Party (which he chaired) with Edgar Savisaar's Centrist Party in summer 2006, shortly before the elections to the national parliament, Rijkikogu. The declaration of the alliance, published in July, contained a list of political principles which aroused anxiety also far beyond Estonia's air space.
In particular, the "popular unionists" and "centrists" were insisting that the Estonian military should take part in international peacekeeping operations only under the auspices of the United Nations (read: and not in an Anglo-US coalition which failed to achieve UN's approval). "They are actually insisting that Estonia withdraw from NATO!" screamed Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
The conservative prime minister was even more worried over the tax reform, promoted by the leftist-centrist alliance. It was challenging large-scale corporations, both foreign and domestic. Villu Reiljan was quite sincere in expressing his views. "The priority of state policy", he said, "should be a citizen, not the power of big money".
Meanwhile, polls indicated that the suspiciously pacifist line of Reiljan and Savisaar was rather popular among Estonians, including the numerous ethnic Russian minority. Moreover, the alliance's candidate for the president's post talked a splendid Russian: most of the career of Ene Ergma, the first ever female contender for the top political position in Estonia, was spent in the Moscow Institute of Space Research.
Not accidentally, the whole presidential race was focused on contrasting the "Eastern candidate", Mrs. Ergma, to the "Western candidate" – Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a citizen of the United States until 1993 (though spending his best years of career in Bavaria-based central office of Radio Free Europe). Trying to buy sympathy to him in the poorest population, the campaigners described him as a "socially concerned" figure. Nominally, Mr. Ilves represented Estonia’s Social Democratic Party.
The same political technologists exposed Edgar Savisaar and Villu Reiljan of "backdoor" connections with Russian business. In his capacity of Minister of Economy, Mr. Savisaar – in late 2005 – made a decision to nationalize the Estonian railroad-managing company, Eesti Raudtee. The political opponents, as well as the former US owners of the company, who failed to attract a wealthy purchaser from the West, suspected Mr. Savisaar of an intention to re-privatize the company in favor of Russia's Severstahl. (As we know from the example of Ukraine, re-privatization may be favored by supervisors of democracy – but exceptionally in the interests of Tony Blair's sponsor Lakshmi Mittal.)
Severstal's daughter transport company was really expanding its economic activity in Estonia – to a large extent, due to the assistance of Aadu Luukas, one of the most influential Estonian businessmen and an Eastern Orthodox believer. Russian business was influential in all the spheres of export. At the opening ceremony of the newly-constructed gasoline-exporting terminal in Sillamäe, the red ribbon was cut by it two owners from St. Petersburg, – Andrei Katkov and Yevgeny Malov (the former known also as a co-owner of the judo club, once attended by Vladimir Putin). These two also had a most influential patron in Estonia – Tiit Vähi, former Prime Minister, founder and chairman of the Estonian Constitutional Party.
A frequent guest of St. Petersburg, Mr. Vähi was promoting the idea of construction of a new bridge across Narva river, vitally important for the interests of both Estonia and Russia in trade, as well as tourism. Without a new bridge, all the projects of "cross-border small and medium business", regularly raised at EU events, comprised mere demagogy. After the collapse of his own party, Mr. Vähi became a political partner of Edgar Savisaar – eventually, to the misfortune of both.
During the vote in the Parliament (general elections are not allowed to Estonia by the supervisors of democracy), Ene Ergma was bypassing Toomas H. Ilves by one vote. The further procedure was promptly conveyed to the electoral college, established in accordance with the US pattern, and thus purfickly legitimate.
At the second round, the leftist-centrist alliance retreated, endorsing the acting president Arnold Rüütel instead of Mrs. Ergma. They definitely relied upon the conservative mood of the business community, traditionally fearing any significant political change. But by that time, a series of smearing scandals, one of them featured above, descended upon the coalition partners.
On September 28, Tiit Vähi‘s company was blamed for of large-scale international smuggle – or more precisely, violation of the regime of international economic sanctions against the republic of Congo (former Zaire). The signal was coming from Austrian businessman Michael Krall, involved actually in the same business in rare metals in Congo. Earlier, Mr. Krall managed to use the same pretext against a rivaling German company, whose owner is now spending a not very pleasant time in a public jail in Kinshasa.
On October 7, Aadu Luukas, shareholder of N-Terminal and Pakterminal and president of Estonia’s Volleyball Association, died in his own estate. For some reason, the funeral took place only two weeks later – after the departure of the British Queen.
ARSONS IN MINOR REICHSTAGS
Years after gaining independence in 1991, the Baltic states, though accepted to major institutions of the West, can't boast with high popularity in international business circles. The world community seems to be forgetting about their existence. In one of the new encyclopaedic websites, President Rüütel was featured as the leader of the alphabetic neighbor, Ecuador.
The relatively strong influence of Russian corporations in the regions is explained exactly with the lack of interest from Western corporations. The US company, preferring to get rid of the Estonian railroad as of a low profitable asset, was not the only economic refugee from the region. Days before, Riga was abandoned by Williams International – after a series of scandals, aroused over arrogant behavior of its top managers. With great difficulty, the leadership of Latvia managed to find a Swiss purchaser for the major oil refining and exporting complex, Ventspils Nafta, selling it much cheaper than it hoped.
Similarly indifferent were major business interests to Lithuania's Mažeikių Nafta, until – according to Polish papers, with direct US promotion – the company was sold by the partners of the disgraced oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky to the Warsaw-based PKN Orlen. The repair of the export pipeline, initiated after this deal by Russia's Transneft, did not increase enthusiasm from the Polish side. The relevant diplomacy was aggravated with political tensions: Warsaw was offended with the decision of Vilnius to support Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, instead of Warsaw's contender Alexander Kwasniewski, in the race for UN General Secretary. (Eventually, this brawl, as well as a timely coup d'etat in Thailand, finished with a triumph of a former South Korean Ambassador in Washington).
Still, the political example of Warsaw was convincing in one aspect: in case business goes bad, a conspiracy theory could be instrumental – for which, in its turn, one needs a spectacular pretext.
Right on the eve of the Queen's arrival, a major incident took place a the Mažeikiai Refinery – luckily and surprisingly, with no casualties, though the picture of a collapsing 150-feet high rectification column, caught with fire, was most impressive. Quite naturally, local press pointed at the vicious "hand of Moscow". The opponents, in their turn, sarcastically compared the accident with the famous arson of the German Reichstag in 1938.
The above mentioned scandal in the port of Paldiski, Estonia, was also timed to the Queen's arrival. Anyway, the Queen arrived not alone but with her royal spouse, Prince Philip, correctly described as the global patron of the whole environmentalist movement. The episode was a good pretext to attract attention to the pollution of the environment, for which the Russian business in Sillamäe, as well as Ukrainian business in Kohtla-Järve – overlooked by a suspiciously leftist (which means pro-Russian) Minister Villu Reiljan.
However, the political success of an American-Bavarian conservative candidate melted the hearts of the high guests. The "heavy stink" in the airport of Tallin did not spoil the mood of the Royals, and the fresh-elected Mr. Ilves, before performing any great political deeds (except Reiljan's dischargement), was decorated with a cross from the high chivalric Order of Bath – an award bestowed upon George H. R. Bush for "Desert Storm".
Similar awards were granted to the leaders of Lithuania and Latvia as well. Still, Baltic conservative papers were not quite satisfied, as the event was not enough broadly covered in international media, which even dared to commit politically incorrect mistakes. In an early report of The Times website, Lithuania was even introduced as a "Balkan state".
Following the Royal tour across the Baltic in more details, one could admit that this slip of a pen was rather Freudian. The politically incorrect remarks of Swedish-owned media over the bad smell in Tallin on the ceremonial day might also have an implicit explanation. As for the media coverage of the visit – why, it was informative enough, but exceptionally for observers with general education in history.
In his talk to the Queen, the President of Lithuania, also a recent US citizen and educated environmentalist, was doing his best to emphasize the political importance of his nation. Still, the argument he raised was far from generally accepted political correctness. Speaking before mass media, he reminded that the state of Lithuania had once expanded from one sea to another.
One could just imagine what kind of jealousy this remark caused in Warsaw, where the succession of Lithuanian king Jagello is certainly regarded as Polish. The same historical reference was even shocking for a Ukrainian nationalist from Lviv or Lutsk, where the ancient walls of the half-ruined castles, covered with moss, seemed to acquire breath again.
Days before, the fresh-elected leader of Estonia delivered his own revelation at his own press conference in Riga – where, as he emphasized, he decided to arrive first of all. His own allusion to imperial greatness was not to Washington, to the hospitality and freedom-loving sentiment he owed his career. Instead, he preferred to point at his original roots – in a perfect European imperial context. "I arrived in Riga, as by origin, I'm not only Estonian but also Livonic", Ilves declared.
The titular social-democrat can't be suspected of a poor education: moreover, his political team had made a special point on his encyclopaedic knowledge. Therefore, the reference to the ancient Livonia, and not to the relatively recent Lettland, could not be just accidental.
The allusion to the ancient Livonic Order implies an even more formidable historical context than the reference to Polish-Lithuanian princes. Actually, those princes, for a number of centuries, were dominated by the Livonic Order, established by the Crusaders in late XII century – to be soon placed under higher subordination from of the Teutonic Order. The relevant decision of the Holy See was motivated with the menace emerging from Scandinavian kings.
Such kind of historical references, spoken out by political figures of a very small scale in the all-European dimension, could be perceived with irony. Actually, the romantic leaders of the Baltic states have already become a subject of jokes in European press, along with the zealous Catholic twins of Warsaw.
Could be – in case the distant historical background of Europe fascinated only professional medievists; in case the succession of the ancient chivalric orders had really ceased; in case the agenda of Crusades had vanished from international policy in the proud postindustrial age; in case the mounting dissatisfaction of the EU outskirts with the EU central bureaucracy was not utilized by the distant, but not less ambitious representatives of ancient monarchic families, once closely associated with chivalric and freemasonic networks.
A GREETING FROM A DECEASED COUNT
That was really not an accident that on the eve of the royal visit, Toomas Hendrik Ilves decided to visit Riga. This city, once built on the order of a Teutonic Prince Albert, became the central point of the Royal tour; similarly remarkable was the choice of the House of Black Heads for the major royal event.
This event – a fact, almost overlooked by European press – involved not only British monarchs. On the day of the Queen's arrival, a 92-year old, but quite capable – in terms of speech and old memory – Austria's Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg surfaced in Riga as well. From his hands, the President of Latvia received a special prize, issued by the Vienna-based foundation, named after the deceased Count Richard de Coudenhove-Calergi.
In 1920s, the Count was famous in Europe as the founder of the conservative Pan-European Union, emerging soon after World War II. Since 1940s, the conservative association, financed by a number of most influential European corporations, is associated with the name of the Habsburgs. According to the official version, Prince Otto got acquainted with Count Richard in emigration. Still, the year of PEU's birth strangely coincides with the decision of the Austrian dynasty to formally abandon the supervision of the Teutonic Order, which had been managed by the Habsburg family since 1589.
Count Richard is considered (not quite correctly) as the author of the design of the United States of Europe, later known as "Europe of Regions". Prince Otto, ridiculed as a "king without a kingdom" since the collapse of his once glorious empire, would not give up his grudges. Especially to Germany, which does not need his monarchic service – though his distant ancestor, Rudolph, not only ruled the Holy Roman Empire but also was in charge of the Teutonic military campaigns.
The project of the "Europe of Regions" actually returns Europe to the times when neither Germany nor Italy existed as nation states. Not accidentally, PEU relies upon political figures from various European states, pursuing an array of secessionist projects, associated, directly or indirectly, with old monarchic dynasties – particularly those which shared the management of Europe in the era of the Habsburgs' domination; particularly those represented in the Monarchic Society of London, where the "blue blood" successors of the kings of Hessen and Bavaria represent anything but Berlin and Brussels.
Another rival of the Habsburg dynasty, for many centuries, was the state of Russia – since the Republic of Novgorod and up to the onset of World War II, when the Austrian crown, the initiator of the war, hurried to appoint its own vicegerent in Ukraine, Andrei Szepticki, today's idol of local Greek Catholics.
The Habsburg family has been especially focused on the new Russian Federation. In the year of Vladimir Putin's first election, the Crown Prince's heir, Carl von Habsburg, urged Moscow for a transition to a "policy of decolonization", which was supposed to be started from Chechnya. In exchange, the Grand Duke proposed loyalty from his dynasty – not more but not less. At least, in his interview to the generous Die Welt, he referred to PEU's founder and ideologue in the following way:
"Richard de Coudenhove-Calergi, the author of the Pan-European idea, refused to view Great Britain as a part of the unified Europe due to its colonialist policy. After World War II, losing its colonies or granting them independence, Britain managed to become a part of Europe". Did the British Crown have to ask permission from Prince Otto?
Speaking of Europe, where the Pan-Europeans agreed to invite England, the Crown Prince's heir definitely did not mean the EU. What he was speaking about was just an element of the patched quilt idea, promoted for decades by the "king without a kingdom", with a maniacal desire to destroy the nations that have emerged on its ruins since World War I.
The instructions, addressed to Moscow, implied a hint for the case of disobedience. "Russia is the last empire in Europe", declared the heir of the bloody kings. "In Russia, a tendency to independence is seen everywhere – from Tuva and Grozny to Yoshkar-Ola".
After Moscow ignored those instructions, the issue of the Mari people – the titular Ugro-Finnish, Pagan (!) – dominated ethnos of the Mari-El Republic on the Volga, with a center in the town of Yoshkar-Ola – "quite accidentally", became a subject of obsessive international concerns. Though official requests originated from Brussels, it would be strange to suspect the Brussels bureaucrats of playing a game upon this sentiment. As it its well known to Russian diplomats, the Eurobureaucracy's cadres are not much more educated in history and ethnology than George W. Bush – though not confusing Slovakia with Slovenia.
In 1998, the aged Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, puzzled a local journalist with an unexpected question to a question: "So, you are speaking of Croatia's role in Europe? But which Europe do you mean?" The face of the young reporter exhibited surprise. "You think there is only one Europe?" – the former top Communist functionary continued. "Then you're mistaken. There is also the Europe of the Habsburgs. And moreover, there is also the Europe of the Holy Roman Empire…"
He knew what he was speaking about. Already in year 1991, Grand Duke Carl von Habsburg developed his charity activity in Habsburg, and even married in the capital of the newly-independent state. His bride, Francesca von Thyssen, represented a family too famous to be introduced. In a number of sentimental reports, local tabloids reported that the young Francesca had earlier spent time traveling between London and her family castle in Geneva, where one of her guests was Dalai Lama XIV.
Her spouse Carl, in the same interview in Die Welt, presented the Balkans as a positive example for Vladimir Putin: "The self-determination of Slovenia, Croatia and other countries is also taking place in the framework of decolonization, as well as the desire for independence among the people of Kosovo..."
The obsessive sympathy of the wealthiest royal family to ethnic minorities may look sincere and generous only for the younger generation of the Europeans. Their minds, brainwashed by the liberal stereotypes till the condition of sterility, are hardly able to assume the fact that the division of Europe for the Habsburgs is not the same as for Bill Clinton or Javier Solana; that the same Kosovo, perceived from a stereotypic viewpoint as a "country, liberated from communism", for the Habsburgs is somewhat different – namely, a territory once ruled by their close relatives from the Wied family.
For the Habsburgs, the tribe of Croatians is of special value – as the former best guns of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Zagreb, the memory of the Habsburg is breathing from every crack in a medieval Gothic wall. While his spouse, despite affinity to Dalai Lama, is donating generous subsidies to the damaged Catholic churches of Zagreb, the "strife for self-determination" in Kosovo is expressed in a sweeping extermination of any piece of Orthodox culture. The top managers of the Teutonic Order’s headquarters – based today, naturally, in Vienna, must be ironically watching the crowd of Moslem fools, preparing the soil for the revival of the once fallen kingdom.
THE THIRD AMERICA
The agenda of the talks in the hospitable House of Black Heads involved, naturally, also current political issues. In particular, the presidents of all the three Baltic states – immediately after the event involving the Queen and the Crown Prince – were heading to Budapest, to take part in the commemoration ceremony of Hungary's anti-communist insurrection.
Two days later, the well-intentioned public from Europe's second postwar generation would sigh, shrug shoulders, and trying to realize, with an utmost possible effort of the brainwashed minds, where the strange political disorder in Hungary's capital is originating from, and for what reason radical rightist movements are raising their heads in a whole array of East European countries, including East German lands; movements which exploit even such politically incorrect issues as the Jewish origin of Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány.
Meanwhile, Peter Kende, head of the trustee board of the Budapest-based Institute of Year 1956, displayed no surprise at all. In his presentation, quoted in an October issue of Frankfurter Rundschau, he reminded that the events of the "Hungarian spring" involved "various currents". "In case the insurrection were successful, Hungary would become a black-and-red country like Austria", he said.
Isn't Velen Siderov, the unexpectedly surfacing leader of Bulgarian ultra-rightists, viewing his country a similarly "black-and-red"? Isn't the same "second Europe" agenda implied with the equally furious anti-Brussels rhetoric of Hungary's FIDES and Bulgaria's Attack?
One could object that the "Attacks", sprawling like insects across the whole Europe today, are too obviously designed beyond the Atlantic. The PEU, after all, also represented those continental industrial families, which feared competition with US corporate bosses.
Thinking about this, I am opening the text of the last interview of Otto von Habsburg, addressed to Russia. An exceptionally spiteful piece – not typically for the Prince – is focused on the only example of what he sees as "new Russian totalitarianism" – the criminal persecution of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
This echoes the recent friendly acceptance of the leader of an ostensibly anti-Semitic FIDES party in the headquarters of the American Hungarian Federation, where he was sharing a table with Congressman Tom Lantos, successor of an old European Jewish family, several generations of which had served to the Austro-Hungarian court. Formally belonging to the community of US Democrats, Mr. Lantos, the most outspoken advocate for Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the United States, actually represents an unofficial, essentially corporative, and supra-partisan "another America".
Another allusion, immediately coming into my mind, is the role of Paul Weyrich, a US strategist but also a similarly ardent Greek Catholic believer, in the process of training for the young Russian democrats in late 1980s under the auspices of a private Krieble Institute; and the fact of a convenient presence of Mikhail Reznikov, a Moscow liberal from Jewish intellectual circles, with a physiological anti-Semite Mikhail Poltoranin; and the decision of Mr. Weyrich to resume his activity in Moscow in 1999, marked with the foundation of the Moscow Institute of Democracy.
Similarly relevant was the delighted report of a young guy from a Cossack family about special seminars for rightist radical youth, convened in Eastern Europe by a US institution named Western Goals; and the role which the founder of Virginia-based Western Goals, Arnaud de Borchgrave, years later played in an international political scandal, focused on personal fortunes of the top management of Gazprom.
In his attack at then Gazprom’s CEO Victor Chernomyrdin at a session of the US Congress, Mr. de Borchgrave referred to intelligence sources. No surprise, again. The fact that Radio Free Europe was designed as a US intelligence tool since its foundation is no secret from the Western and Russian public since the Iron Curtain's fall. Its relocation to Prague, interpreted in public with the reduction of the media agency's role, could be viewed otherwise from the standpoint of "another Europe"'s faction among the employers of Toomas Hendrik Ilves and other knights of the Cold War – which, as the events in Budapest clearly demonstrated, has conveniently outlasted the Iron Curtain, just acquiring a different dimension and a broader agenda.
I wonder to what extent the European Community is prepared to a rightist shift, involving a number of countries simultaneously, and sweeping a whole array of top European figures off the political chessboard. Still, I am more concerned of the competence of Russia's top diplomatic cadres in similar issues of shadowy geopolitics. Russia's Foreign Ministry, blamed for its impotency by the Russian community of Lviv, and ridiculed in the Baltic states over the surnames of diplomats ("Provalov" – from proval – failure), does not seem to display due activity in situations where a single vote may be critical for a strategic shift of balance.
Is Russian diplomacy enough educated, brave and creative to play a good game on the field of "another Europe"? I would believe in its potential immediately on the day when somewhere in Prague, a foundation named after King Ottokar II, would suddenly surface with a powerful political agenda; or at least, a foundation named after Knight Dovmont in Pskov.
In order to play a good game, corresponding with the rich, glorious and severe heritage of the centuries of Russian history, diplomacy, based upon sundry calculations of oil and gas deals, is not sufficient. The first necessary condition is to overcome bureaucratic restrictions of mind and to open the way for foreign policy innovations, locked today in kitchens of Moscow intellectuals. Otherwise, Russia is likely to lose influence not only in Tallin – originally founded as a Russian town of Kolyvan.
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