Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kremlin Hand behind Alaska Annexation Petition on White House Website?

“Obama, think about Alaska!” reads one sign at a pro-Crimea-annexation rally in Moscow.
A couple weeks ago in this blog I reported on a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website seeking to return Alaska to Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s Blitzkrieg/Blitzwahl annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last month.

Uploaded on March 21st, the petition states, with steel-trap logic, “Groups Siberian russians crossed the Isthmus (now the Bering Strait) 16-10 thousand years ago.  Russian began to settle on the Arctic coast, Aleuts inhabited the Aleutian Archipelago.  First visited Alaska August 21, 1732, members of the team boat St. Gabriel under the surveyor Gvozdev and assistant navigator I. Fedorov during the expedition Shestakov and DI Pavlutski 1729-1735 years.  Vote for secession of Alaska from the United States and joining Russia.”  (Who could argue with that?)  As of April 5th, the petition had 38,819 signatures, well on the way to the 100,000 signatures needed to require a response from the President.

Initially we knew only that the petition had been uploaded by one “S.V.,” of Anchorage.  Now the Moscow Times reveals that the original petition was in fact created by what it describes, not completely helpfully, as “an organization called Government Communication G2C, a pro-Kremlin ‘communications platform.’”

A popular “take back Alaska” meme in Russian social media.
Will someone please remind Russians that penguins live in the Antarctic, not the Arctic?
The Kremlin is not itself calling for the annexation of Alaska, which Czar Alexander II sold to the United States in 1867.  But many Russian are taught in school and reminded in the mass media that Alaska was only leased, not sold, though—like Russia’s media coverage of the Crimea crisis—that is not quite the way it went.  And Vladimir Chizhov, Putin’s envoy to the European Union, last month warned Senator John McCain, the U.S. Republican Party’s de facto foreign policy whip, who has lashed out strongly against the Crimean annexation, that he had better “watch over Alaska.”  The Guardian has also reported on an alleged clandestine tape-recording of jocular banter between two Russian diplomats in which Igor Chubarov, ambassador to Eritrea, appears to joke, “We’ve got Crimea, but that’s not fucking all folks.  In the future we’ll damn well take your Catalonia and Venice, and also Scotland and Alaska.”  Chubarov adds that California and Florida look annexable as well, explaining, “Miamiland is fucking 95% Russian citizens.  We have a full right to hold a referendum.”  (Russia’s mostly state-controlled media has been vigorously milking the topic of separatist movements in the West, as though this clinched some argument about NATO’s double standards.)

Chizhov warns McCain
And a spokesman for G2C, Alexander Zhukov, said that the petition’s goal was not actually to return Alaska to Russia—“We understand that this is not plausible”—but instead “to show the White House that its petition system is a flawed democratic tool that allows anybody to ask for anything.  We are trying to protect the citizens of the U.S. by drawing attention to a tool that is said to be democratic but could be used by terrorists or other people with evil objectives.”  Wait, no—it allows anybody to ask for anything??  Someone needs to explain to Zhukov—and to Putin—that Alaskans actually like belonging to a country where all voices can be heard.  As usual, Russian ultranationalists who claim they are on the side of democracy are deeply unclear on the concept.

[You can read more about Alaska, Siberia, and other separatist movements both famous and obscure in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon