Dr. Borys Babin

It is not a special secret that Russian expansionism after the collapse of the USSR was called as “Eurasian integration”. Our Association has already written about the “Karaganov’s Doctrine” [1], consistently applied by Russia against its neighbors, in particular, within the framework of the attempted annexation of Crimea. But in addition to doctrines, there are always tools for their implementation, which should get separate and special attention.

We were prompted to write this study on the “Eurasians” by the Russian president, who specially congratulated the participants of a certain “Eurasian Peoples’ General Assembly” on July 9 this year [2]. The message noted that “created four years ago, the Assembly brings together representatives of the creative and scientific intelligentsia, business circles and non-governmental organizations, talented and caring youth from dozens of countries”. At the same time, the Kremlin expressed expectations that this Eurasian structure in its activities will be “multifaceted”, not excluding, however, “preserving the historical truth about World War II and the Great Patriotic War”, as anything can be done in modern Moscow without it.

It should be admitted that this event was really held with the highest possible pathos for the current Russia and with the involvement of relevant political, human and information resources [3]. Therefore, it is necessary to highlight in more detail the work of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly (EPA) itself, which, in fact, holds the aforementioned “General Assemblies”, the first after the creation of EPA in May 2017 and two subsequent “extraordinary” ones (and not so “large-scaled” as the current one). As it follows from the aforementioned constituent provisions of the Assembly, cited by the Russian president, EPA is positioned as a kind of platform for non-governmental activities, that is commonly called “people’s diplomacy” in Russia.

In addition to the “General Assembly”, the EPA has a permanent General Council, which allegedly “includes 144 well-known public figures from 33 countries of Greater Eurasia” [4]. However, according to the General Council’s list of members, at least 80 of them are guaranteed to be citizens of Russia and directly represent the Russian authorities or near-government structures, or they are involved in a kind of semi-fictitious “public” status, such as “Deputy General Director of Siren LLC, who acts “without leaving the main place of his military service”.

However, even with such a “controlling package of participants” from the “hosts of the event”, the other “32 countries of Greater Eurasia” were represented rather dimly, by persons of “third political freshness” or “members of the societies of friendship with Russia” in these states. The only identified Ukrainian citizen in the General Council was the Crimean collaborator Ruslan Balbek, who was repeatedly used by Russia on external events, whose activities were repeatedly covered by our Association [5]. The rest of the foreigners in the General Council are also colorful, including, for example, Vice President of the International Academy of Beauty, Health and Longevity, General Director of the “Rus’-China” Business Cooperation Center Wang Dandzin “from the legendary ancient family of China”, who “is the heir and keeper of the Magnificient Secrets” and “was born in a cave” [6], but “as usual” bears the name of Alexei Dronov.

Also now there are twenty EPA Deputies of General Secretary, among whom, in addition to such foreigners, “born in caves” by Soviet and Russian special services, 12 are even formally Russians. In addition, among 8 members of the EPA Supreme Advisory Council, five are Russian citizens (including the odious Sergei Glazyev, as well as the Chairman of the Council of the Association of Russian Diplomats Igor Khalevinsky, and TASS General Director Sergei Mikhailov) [7]. Therefore it should be taken somewhat sarcastically on the mention that, at the 2021 EPA General Assembly, “800 members of the Assembly – representatives of non-governmental organizations from 45 countries” [8] were gathered online. However, the Russians generally indicated “2500 participants from 60 states” at the 2017 EPA founding congress [9], but it is worth to clarify that most of them were the participants in the VII Congress of the “Assembly of People of Russia” held on the same day on May 27 [10]. The continuity of EPA is not particularly hidden from this “internal” Russian Assembly, since the EPA creation was first announced formally exactly at the VI Congress of the “internal” Assembly in 2013.

But maybe then it is not worth to pay enough attention to this “get-together” of the Russia’s special services, clearly focused on the violent imitation of “people’s diplomacy”, including the current contests of poems “Poetry of the Angels of the World” [11], the festival of family media creativity “Sunflower” [12] and support for IV The World Restaurant Sports Championship? [13] For this, it is necessary to analyze in more detail the work of EPA from open sources over the past four years. For example, in 2017, out of 44 EPA’s announced events, 24 were held in Russia, the rest happened in Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and France [14].

In 2018, EPA declared 142 events to be held, of which 75 took place in Russia. The Assembly also announced the holding of events in Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Germany, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, United Emirates, Uzbekistan, France [15]. It was from 2018 that EPA began its activity in the “Crimean direction”, when in May in Sevastopol the “XIV Sevastopol International Festival of Documentary Films and TV Programs” was held, including the “Russian-Chinese Forum of Cooperation on Culture and Tourism” on “its couloirs”. In May-July 2018, “EPA’s representatives” traveled to a number of invader’s “cultural events” in the Crimea, including Yalta and Balaklava, and on September 15 in Gurzuf, an “agreement” was signed between the EPA project “Let’s Do Together. Eurasia” and “International Youth Center” “Artek”, controlled by the Russian invaders. It is noteworthy that in 2018 EPA also “marked itself” on “events” in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.

In 2019, within the framework of EPA, at least 200 events were held, of which 110 were held in Russia, and the Assembly was also “event-maker” in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Serbia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey and Vietnam [16]. But EPA paid special attention to Ukraine, and naturally against its will. On May 15-16 EPA acted as the “co-organizer” of the “international public forum” held in Sevastopol, again “within the framework of the XV Sevastopol International Festival of Documentary Films”. As EPA reported, “the official opening of the forum was held in the Great Hall of the Government of Sevastopol with the participation of the Governor of Sevastopol”, Dmitry Ovsyannikov.

On July 6-8, 2019, “with the support” of EPA, the “Festival of Youth Symphony Orchestras” “Euroorchestria Crimea – 2019” was held in Yevpatoria (however, besides the Crimeans, only representatives of “42 subjects of the Russian Federation” were at this “festival”). Also on November 7-8, 2019, a permanent participant of the “high-level ANE events”, a citizen of India Dalbir Singh, was taken to Yalta for the “V international conference” “Crimea in a Modern International Context”. However, the EPA did not forget about the occupied East of Ukraine, having “noted” as accomplices of the “Eurasian Youth Music Forum” “Melodies of Unity” held on May 26-28, 2019 in Donetsk by the terroristic “Ministry of Culture” “together with the Council of Composers and Musical Figures of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly”.

In 2020, the EPA also held more than two hundred events, but, as a rule, either online (95 events) or off-line, but on the Russia’s territory (more than 80). At the same time, the coronavirus year became a “Crimean” one for EPA, since a whole “series of events” were also held on the occupied peninsula, with the EPA’s participation or organized by it [17].

This is, in particular, the “international conference” “Yalta-1945: History’s Lessons”, held in the Livadia Palace on February 13, and the “Yalta International Public Forum on the Preservation of the Memory of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War” together with the “round table” “Youth for Peace”, “pulled up” to this “conference”, held there on 14 February. And from August 28 to September 5, EPA “made a nest” in Sevastopol, not only in the format of the “annual international festival of documentary films” but also simultaneously holding the “Crimean Eurasian School of Commonwealth”, a “round table” “Eurasian Peoples’ Contribution to the Great Victory”, “Session of the International Public Forum” “Preserving the Memory of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War”, “extended meeting of the General Council Presidium”, all kinds of “awards”, as well as “holding meetings” and “signing agreements”.

More, the Russian propaganda began to mention the “EPA Representative Office in Sevastopol” for this period. However, that “budjet year” was not completed for EPA in those events, since then the Assembly became one of the “organizers” of the “International Scientific and Diplomatic Congress” “Yalta World: Historical Experience and Prospects” in October 2020 (Yalta and Sevastopol), and the “EPA Representative Office in Sevastopol” held the “International Ethno-Confessional Forum-Festival” “Belief. Good. Unity” on November 2-3. Thus, it can be argued that EPA has become an important instrument not only of “Eurasian integration” in general, but also of the attempts to “legalize” the seizure of Crimea in particular in the eyes of the Russian authorities.

However, given the above-described “stormy activity” and “thousands of participants”, the actual potential of EPA has certain limits. In the occupied Crimea, with all the above-described pathos, the “EPA Representative Office in Sevastopol”, as well as the “Sevastopol Regional Branch of the Assembly of People of Russia”, were registered by the local businessman Ruslan Koveiko from the Ternovka village [18]; who was not seen in the “politics” as until 2014, so later. Only in 2021, Mr. Koveiko was introduced by the Russian invaders “ex officio” to a rather “modest post” of “a member of the City’s Public Chamber” [19]. It is worth noting that a similar “EPA Representative Office” emerged later in the Crimea, in April 2021, and was headed by the well-known Russian “diplomat in uniform” Georgiy Muradov, who has been dealing with the Crimea since 2014, with all sorts of titles of his “especially important positions” [20].

However, to predict further EPA’s “activities” for the Crimea, it is worth to analyze not so much the “epics” of EPA’s “representatives” on the peninsula, there there will not be too much initiatives from them. Most likely, after a series of foreign policy’s failures in the “Crimean direction”, Mr. Muradov has now been assigned to EPA for its “additional reinforcement” and will “saturate” the Assebly’s activities with “Friends of Crimea” among the Russian special services’ foreign agents, with which Russia has somehow been unable … But it will not be Mr. Muradov at all who will play the “first violin” in EPA on the “Crimean issues”, but Mr. Andrey Belyaninov, the EPA Secretary General since its inception, recently re-elected to this post in 2021 [21].

It is the biography of Mr. Belyaninov, a native of a Soviet nomenklatura family and a 1978 graduate of the Plekhanov Moscow Institute of National Economy, that exactly determines the future EPA’s prospects. Immediately after receiving his degree in economics, the EPA current head was recruited into the Soviet foreign intelligence, the Soviet KGB’s First Main Directorate [22] and he worked under diplomatic cover in East Germany. It was there that the economist Belyaninov was responsible for the financial support of a group of KGB officers, which included Vladimir Putin and Sergei Chemezov [23]. After Putin’s group came to power in 1999, “KGB financial inspector” Mr. Belyaninov was not forgotten by former clients and he consecutively held the posts of head of state-owned “Promexport” and “Rosoboronexport”, and later – Head of the Russia’s Federal Defense Order Service. Since 2006, Mr. Belyaninov headed the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation [24].

In fact, it was Mr. Belyaninov who, for the next ten years, became the key person responsible for the “economic integration” of the post-Soviet states, which Putin’s Russia decided to carry out, copying the “European experience”, precisely by creating “customs unions” and “common economic spaces”. In this regard, Belyaninov’s doctoral dissertation on political science in 2013 is interesting, regardless of its real authorship, since its text, “passed” through the Diplomatic Academy of the Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is obviously not accidental. This document, practically unknown to a wide circle, should be considered as a vision of the methodology of Russian “Eurasian integration” by its main performer [25].

The theses of this work are cynical and simple.

First, it states that “Eurasian integration” is linked precisely with the state and prospects of Russia’s development and thus serves precisely and exclusively to Russia’s interests.

Secondly, the dissertation admits that “Eurasian integration” with Russia will work for the post-Soviet countries only if it is “uncontested”. Therefore, it should artificially cut off all possible, obviously and objectively more economically beneficial alternatives, such as European integration, or orientation towards Asian countries for the states, neighboring Russia, by political or other tools, including “collaborating with the elites”.

Thirdly, the work does not deny that “Eurasian integration” is the subsequent, third after the Russian Empire and the USSR “integration project” based on the same principles and values, with an “integration core” in the form of Russian culture and the Russian language. And the obvious current lack of economic grounds for such integration is proposed to be replaced by “socio-cultural integration”, on the basis of which “political and economic integration” will already arise.

Fourthly, the dissertation states that the attitude of the post-Soviet countries to “Eurasian integration” (so far it is not uncontested and since it is more “social” than economical) depends on the conjuncture – namely, on the mood of the “leadership of a certain country”, with the change of which “its foreign policy could radically change”. This implies that, for some reason, these changing leaders do not want to voluntarily integrate, as indicated above, and exclusively in Russia’s interests.

And therefore, from these theses, the author deduces essentially the main question – how to force the countries to go for an obviously economically disadvantageous “integration” based only on Russia’s interests. The answer to it was proposed to be simple, to ensure integration by tools of “counter movement” from “below”, “that is, from the level of … individual firms and companies, large, medium and small enterprises”. That is, at first it was supposed to buy the economies of the post-Soviet countries “at retail”, and then to “integrate” them successfully.

However, these principles, by which the “honorary customs officer of the Republic of Abkhazia” Dr. Belyaninov was obviously guided in practice for a decade, have not yet worked. But then the “honorary professor of the Russian Customs Academy” suddenly got the “dark streak”, when in 2016 the search was held in the Belyaninov’s house in the criminal case of alcohol smuggling, related to the “Forum”, “KontRail Logistic North-West” and “Yugo-Vostochnaya Trading Company” companies [26].

Then the Russian media relished the photographs of the Russia’s Investigative Committee [27] with neatly arranged millions of “labor savings” of the chief Russia’s customs officer (mostly for in dollars and euros some reason) [28] Dr. Belyaninov, while he, as well as a dozen other security officials of a lower rank, urgently dismissed. For those readers who do not follow our publications about the Russian elites and their common-criminal “adventures” in Crimea, we will recall that black and gray exports and imports of alcohol in Russia are controlled by the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Mr. Sergey Naryshkin, and, accordingly, the epic of the “Belyaninov’s case” was precisely an episode of the endless struggle between Russian special services’s different groups [29]. However, in this situation, Putin personally stood up to defend Dr. Belyaninov, and he did it publicly, after which the photographs of Belyaninov’s treasures were removed from the main media resources [30].

Well, Andrey Belyaninov himself was appointed in 2017 not only as the head of EPA, but also as the head of the board of the Eurasian Development Bank [31], an international financial organization with an authorized capital of $ 7 billion, including paid $ 1.5 billion. The main contributors to the EDB were the Russian Federation (almost 66 % of capital contributions) and Kazakhstan (almost 33 % of the bank’s capital). Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan joined the EDB as “poor relatives”.

The headquarters of this institution is located in Alma-Ata, and the bank conducts the main investment portfolios in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, so that in its structure Astana “stays with its own”, and Minsk enjoys the stable role of a “platform for Eurasian investments” [32]. However, although the EDB allows itself to designate the occupied Crimea as a “zone of its own action” in corporate pictures, none of the bank’s 21 ongoing projects on the peninsula is being implemented. Instead of such dubious operations, the EDB prefers to invest in Eurobonds, which, for example, it acquired in March 2021 for 300 million euros [33].

However, in 2021, Dr. Belyaninov was removed from the management of the EDB, but at the same time he remained to lead EPA. It can be predicted that the “front of work” for the former Putin’s treasurer in the field of “Eurasian integration” will be stable until the collapse of the current Russia’s administrative system. It is expected that the “Crimean issues” will remain as key ones for EPA, and it is within the framework of this Assembly and further that Russia will concentrate its efforts on “foreign policy recognition” of the attepted annexation. And although the influence of this structure is negligible on the world civilized countries’ political agenda, such EPA’s activities can have a certain effect for propaganda purposes, as well as in the post-Soviet space. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian authorities at the moment practically ignore both the personality of Dr. Belyaninov so the EPA current active work in Ukraine.

Sources

1. https://arc.construction/6829

2. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/letters/66165

3. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/organizatorov-i-uchastnikov-generalnoy-assamblei-privetstvuet-predsedatel-ispolnitelnogo

4. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/chleny-generalnogo-soveta

5. https://arc.construction/8545?lang=uk; https://arc.construction/8345

6. https://samopoznanie.ru/trainers/master_van_dandzin/#ixzz71GEfchEa

7. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/generalnaya-assambleya-utverdila-polozhenie-o-vysshem-konsultativnom-sovete

8. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/generalnaya-assambleya-narodov-evrazii-proydet-v-formate-onlayn

9. https://eurasia-congress.org/news/486-assambleya-narodov-evrazii-sobrala-na-svoey-ploschadke-bolee-2500-uchastnikov-iz-60-stran.html

10. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/letters/54595

11. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/mezhdunarodnyy-konkurs-stihotvoreniy-poeziya-angelov-mira-priem-zayavok-do-3107

12. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/mezhdunarodnyy-festival-semeynogo-mediynogo-tvorchestva-podsolnuh-10-12092021

13. http://eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/assambleya-narodov-evrazii-generalnyy-partner-iv-chempionata-mira-po-restorannomu-sportu-24

14. http://eurasia-assembly.org/sites/default/files/hronika_osnovnyh_meropriyatiy_assamblei_narodov_evrazii_2017g.pdf

15. http://eurasia-assembly.org/sites/default/files/hronika_ane_2018_po_sostoyaniyu_na_26.12.2018_0.pdf

16. http://eurasia-assembly.org/sites/default/files/news/hronika_ane_2019_0.pdf

17. http://eurasia-assembly.org/sites/default/files/hronika_2020_0.pdf

18. https://www.rusprofile.ru/person/koveyko-rr-920200023813

19. http://www.eurasia-assembly.org/ru/news/rukovoditel-predstavitelstva-assamblei-v-sevastopole-utverzhden-chlenom-obshchestvennoy-palaty

20. https://bigasia.ru/content/news/assembly/u-assamblei-narodov-evrazii-poyavilos-predstavitelstvo-v-krymu/

21. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/11869591

22. http://comnarcon.com/index.php?id=480

23. https://web.archive.org/web/20070214212220/http://www.sobesednik.ru/issues/134/rubr/1100/karyera/?4808

24. http://comnarcon.com/index.php?id=480

25. https://www.dissercat.com/content/integratsionnaya-politika-rossii-na-evraziiskom-prostranstve-potentsial-i-perspektivy-razvit/read

26. https://www.rbc.ru/politics/26/07/2016/579780019a7947723a926cf6

27. https://twitter.com/GazetaRu/status/757936583102332928

28. https://www.rbc.ru/photoreport/28/12/2016/585a52589a7947680e0f4f60

29. https://arc.construction/9312?lang=uk

30. https://novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/06/21/80973 ; https://www.gazeta.ru/social/photo/obyski_u_glavy_federalnoi_tamozhennoi_sluzhby_rf.shtm

31. https://tass.ru/ekonomika/4775305

32. https://eabr.org/about/facts-and-figures/

33. https://eabr.org/investors/transactions-history/#tab2021