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Redefining Territorial Integrity

Published: March 7, 2014 (Issue # 1800)


Позиционироваться: to position

In Moscow, I have lived through two ideologies, two Olympics, two revolutions and several economic crises. I have wept through terrorist attacks. I have lost all my savings a couple of times. I am always getting paid in whatever currency is losing value. This week I think: I am getting too old for this.

Through my panic about war, I'm trying to understand the logic behind Russian actions. So I have been reading documents, including the пояснительная записка (explanatory note) prefacing a bill to change the way Russia accepts new territories, a fast track for Crimea or any other part of Ukraine.

The note is written mostly in a bureaucratic, legalistic jargon that signals the work of serious international law specialists. The text is peppered with Latin quotes, like "rebus sic stantibus," which is always a sign of Jesuitical, um, serious scholarship.

As I read along, I am a little puzzled that the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 is not mentioned, but the 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine is. The text about the treaty starts out fine: Именно Россия гарантировала территориальную целостность Украины (It was Russia that guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine). And it continues well: Фактически Россия как гарант территориальной целостности Украины … (In fact, Russia as a guarantor of the territorial integrity of Ukraine … ).

But then it goes south: … не только вправе, но и обязана принять меры поддержки народа Украины, которые подтолкнули бы власти Украины к наведению должного порядка, без насилия и дискриминации по отношению к национальным меньшинствам (… does not only have the right, but is obligated to take measures to support the people of Ukraine, measures which would push the authorities of Ukraine to implement an appropriate system, without violence and discrimination against national minorities).

So the writers extrapolate that respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine actually entails interference in the internal matters of Ukraine. But they are still hobbled by that territorial integrity bit. How to get around it?

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the city’s upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project “Road Map for the Municipal Elections” being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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