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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992

1.2. Principles.

On the Notion of "Self-Determination of Nations"

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In the sphere of international relations "freedom" was understood as "freedom from" (see the previous paragraph). It would not have been dangerous if a negative definition had been followed by a positive one (if the deeper meaning had been "freedom for"). But this did not happen.

It was believed that "self-determination" would be followed by the flourishing of the national culture and economy. This was assumed not only without proof, but also without clarification of the meaning.

The thesis of "national self-determination" has thus become one of the idols of our intelligentsias mentality.

At the same time it turned out to be very convenient for our political elite, which used it as one of the slogans in their struggle for power. Taking into account that one of the major problems facing Russia at present is that of separation of certain republics (in this part it is a direct continuation of the trends acting since the collapse of the Soviet Union), and the fact that the thesis of "national self-determination" justifies this process, it is necessary to estimate the value of this thesis.

Certainly, sovereignization in Russia should not be compared with the analogous process which took place in the USSR. It has its own specific features. First of all, already the representatives of Russian regions (at least on the level of public movements) desire "freedom" from the "Centre" (Siberia is the most transparent example). Here we can see the division not according to ethnic, but also economic principles (hence, the argument from the advocates of Siberia's separation, the "white-and-green" movement, is of economic nature).

Furthermore, the portion of the Russian population in the republics which would like to demand independence is high. Nevertheless, one should think over the concept of "freedom of self-determination" for the following reasons:

- first, the process of disintegration of the Union has not yet ended (the matter is not only in the disintegration of Russia or the federalisation of Ukraine - the danger lies in the fact that the division according to the ethnic criterion, of, for example, Russia, threatens to divide some of the republics - e.g., Sakha (Yakutia) and Tatarstan);

- second, today Russia (considering the de facto rather than de jure state of affairs) is a country without boundaries. The formation of new states has not finished yet, moreover, we presume that in this respect no single tendency can be found (this is true for at least some of the countries). And if so, if our nations have become "free", one can not deny the possibility of their new integration on certain terms. In this respect it would be useful if there were no intellectual obstacles on the way to integration.

Thus, it is necessary to answer the question in what respect the thesis of "national self-determination" will be correct.

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