Is the Soviet Union being reborn in North Ossetia?
The Soviet Union has been revived – at least for a group of residents of North Ossetia, a republic in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation.
The movement ‘Citizens of the USSR’ has created government bodies, issued Soviet-style documents, and even participates in protests.
The Soviet “sectarians” are being harassed by the police – but not for the attempt to displace the political system, but for fraud.
Member of the Supreme Council of the North Ossetian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) – this is how pensioner Andrei Gassiev from North Ossetia presents himself.
He says that he does not recognise the laws of Russia or the constitution adopted in 1992:
“The Americans brought the text of the constitution, in one night it was translated from English into Russian and declared it the constitution of the Russian Federation. We sent inquiries, found out that it was not signed either by (President) Yeltsin or by (Speaker of Parliament) Khasbulatov. It is illegal,” argues Gassiev.
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As it turned out, there are a lot of people like him in North Ossetia.
The movement “Citizens of the USSR” has existed in the republic for about two years, but it made itself known for the first time loudly during the April 20 protests in Vladikavkaz against the quarantine measures because of the coronavirus pandemic, during which clashes occurred between protesters and the police.
Then, representatives of Citizens of the USSR took to the streets in support of one of their leaders, opera singer Vadim Cheldiev.
Cheldiev is known for publicly denying the existence of the coronavirus and urging people to disobey the authorities.
“Both isolation and the authorities should resign!” – 1,500 people demanding the resignation of the authorities and information about the coronavirus.
This was a protest of individuals who do not believe in the epidemic of the coronavirus. MP Kaloev, famous for the fact that he killed a Swiss air traffic controller and in doing so ‘avenged’ the death of his wife and children, is being offered the post of leader.
1,500 turn out for protest in Vladikavkaz, demanding resignation of gov’t, proof of coronavirus’ existence
This is a riot of those who do not believe in the epidemic of the coronavirus. Deputy Kaloev, famous for the fact that he killed a Swiss air traffic controller and avenged the death of his wife and children, is being put forward as a replacement leader by protesters
Cheldiev was arrested on charges of hooliganism, calls for extremism, violence against a government official and “public dissemination of knowingly false information about circumstances that pose a threat to the life and safety of citizens.”
The lawyer of the arrested considers the charges unfounded.
In addition to him, several other members of the movement have been arrested in recent months.
An alternative country
Citizens of the USSR claims to have restored the Soviet Union, Andrei Gassiev says, noting the Supreme Council of the USSR has been in session in Moscow since February this year, and local authorities are being formed in the localities, including ministries of finance, justice, health, social security, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and even the KGB.
The posts of the chairman of the Supreme Council and the head of the Council of Ministers of North Ossetia are held by one and the same person – Anatoly Khugaev.
Citizens of the USSR does not recognize the Russian Federation as a state, claiming that present-day Russia is a colony of the West and that
the USSR was dissolved illegally, since at a referendum in 1991, 77 percent of its citizens spoke out in favor of preserving the Union. And the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, committed an official crime by signing the Belovezha Agreements on the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States – which put an end to the USSR.
On this basis, “citizens” urge local residents not to pay taxes to the state and not to pay utility bills.
Ruslan Laliev, a deputy in the Nogir rural settlement of North Ossetia, personally acquainted with many “citizens”, said that a group of activists appeared “a couple of years ago,” and somehow an entire five-story building was put at their disposal as an office.
Laliev calls the meeting of “citizens” a sect and claims that a split has occurred in their midst:
“Within the sect, contradictions intensified, so they split up and ceased to recognize each other. Anatoly Khugaev, for example, began to create alternative authorities, tax authorities, banks, the election commission.”
Sectarians or scammers?
The authorities consider the “sect” not so harmless.
In addition to the April 20 riot case, the North Ossetian Interior Ministry said it had stopped the activity of a group of fraudsters and opened a case – it concerned “USSR passports” that the organization sold to citizens for money.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, on behalf of the ‘Supreme Council of North Ossetia’, its head Anatoly Khugaev proposed to obtain temporary certificates of citizen of the Soviet Union, while paying a “state duty” of 300 rubles [about $4.2].
The chairman and members of the organization, according to law enforcement officers, also issued false land ownership and property certificates to people.
“During the existence of the organization, a group of fraudsters was able to deceive about a thousand gullible citizens, and spend the money obtained illegally for personal needs,” the republic’s Interior Ministry said.
However, as locals say, “citizens” offering people Soviet documents did not always ask for money for them.
“These citizens came straight to my home. They offered me to issue a USSR passport,” recalls a resident of the city of Beslan Atzamaz.
“They went straight home. The man introduced himself as the head of the passport office and, yes, he claimed that he would make me a Soviet-style passport. No, he didn’t ask for money. I laughed at him and closed the door.“
As part of the investigation, police raided the house of Khugaev, as well as members of the ‘Supreme Council of North Ossetia,’ including Andrei Gassiev.
Gassiev himself considers the charges unlawful and claims that the searches were irregular. However, he says, in several cases “the passport offers went too far” and more was taken than should have been.
If they are convicted of fraud, members of the “sect” face up to six years in prison.
Why do people want to go back to the USSR?
Political analyst Alan Mamiev says that in North Ossetia there is still a strong nostalgia for the USSR and this has its own reasons:
“Some older people have nostalgia for the USSR. And young people who were born in the 90s in Russia, know about the Soviet Union from their elders, also become supporters of the USSR, if they do not find justice in the modern reality.”
Mamie says that “sects that want to return to the USSR are the same as sects seeking to return to the Russian Empire. This is just wishful thinking.”
According to him, these people are being manipulated, but it is also an obvious fact that many residents of North Ossetia are nostalgic for the Soviet era.