Letter From the Editors

The Kakhovka dam explosion in the wee hours of June 6 opened the floodgates to not only environmental but also political repercussions. While it’s not clear what plans mice may have had, it’s clear that man was involved in the disaster one way or another. Before the floodwaters even came close to subsiding, Ukraine and Russia swiftly started trading accusations. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov laid blame at Ukraine’s door and said that the goal may have been to deprive Crimea residents of potable water. Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Igor Klimenko, for his part, warned that disaster was now looming for the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, adding that “everywhere the Russians set foot, devastation and catastrophe occur.” The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting.

Military expert Yan Matveyev was not quite as categorial in an interview with Republic.ru. In the eternal question of cui bono, neither side is the apparent winner, he said: “Russian troops are losing part of the territory, because it’s becoming unusable. They are losing their entrenched positions. But the Ukrainian troops are almost completely losing the opportunity for any kind of amphibious landing on the other bank.”

Not everyone feels like a fish out of water. Turkish President Erdogan, awash in domestic problems, decided to leverage the Kakhovka disaster to his advantage. He proposed creating a special commission to investigate the incident that would include, naturally, Turkey. As negotiations continue both on Sweden’s NATO accession and the possible renewal of the Turkish military’s aging fleet with new American F‑16s, “This diplomatic capitalization is expected to be useful for Erdogan to strengthen his negotiating position with the West,” writes Nezavisimaya gazeta.

Meanwhile, the Kakhovka dam disaster has struck a blow to the Russian opposition abroad – by completely distracting world attention from a Brussels roundtable that convened to outline the future of Russia without Putin. Initially planned by former Lithuanian prime minister Andrius Kubilius, the event featured about 300 guests, including celebrities like writer Boris Akunin and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov. However, in a scathing editorial, Rimma Polyak ridiculed the conference’s entire premise: “You must agree that it is rather absurd to consider a gathering of all-émigré Russian opposition members as representative [of all Russia].” Polyak pointed out that representatives of Aleksei Navalny’s Anticorruption Foundation declined the invitation – even though its former director, Leonid Volkov, was originally in talks with Kubilius.

Volkov especially took issue with certain conference headliners who were promoting slogans like “Kill a Russian” and saying that democracy was impossible in Russia. “We do not want to be publicly associated with these people – our Russian supporters will not understand us,” he said in his podcast, adding that “there will be no political alliance with those who believe that as many Russians should be killed as possible.” The supporters inside the country “believe in a democratic Russia; a normal and beautiful new Russia,” Volkov went on to say.

At least the Polish opposition is having a good week. After the ruling Law and Justice party announced the creation of a special commission to investigate “Russian influence” on Polish politics, the opposition – and its leader Donald Tusk – called it a blatant attempt to sideline inconvenient candidates. The protest rallies drew between 100,000 and 500,000 people – which would make them the biggest since the Socialist regime fell in 1989, writes Izvestia. Even Solidarity leader Lech Walesa joined the march. Can the ruling party survive this flood of indignation? The fall elections will tell.