14 August 2009

Sakhalin tired of Russian neglect, looks for country who will appreciate its personality, cooking, mother-in-law

"Nikolayevsk was founded not too long ago, in 1850, by the celebrated Gennady Nevelskoy, and that may well be the single bright moment in the town's history. ... But today, nearly half of all the homes are abandoned and dilapidated, and their dark, frameless windows stare back like the empty eyepits of a skull. The inhabitants lead a lethargic, drunken life, existing hand to mouth, on whatever God provides. They subsist by supplying fish to Sakhalin, pilfering gold, exploiting the non-Russians, or selling deer antlers, from which the Chinese make stimulant pills."
- "Sakhalin Island", Anton Chekhov
Over a century later, Sakhalintsii are trying to get the heck out of Dodge--to Tokyo:
"A group of Sakhalin residents, after a visit to Tokyo, are not only studying Japanese but also collecting signatures for a petition asking that Moscow hand over their island to Japan so that they can live and raise their children in a rich, modern country that is not at war with anyone.

This remarkable action surfaced this week when radical Moscow commentator Valeriya Novodvorskaya reported in her Grani.ru column that one of the organizers, who she indicated had to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, had approached her to ask to whom he should forward their appeal.

Novodvorskaya said she advised him to “send the signatures to the Japanese emperor,” for whom they could serve as “compensation” for the harm that Japan has experienced at Russia’s hands given Moscow’s continuing unwillingness ever to return the four islands Soviet forces seized at the end of World War II."
It's that anarchist thought experiment come to life-- governments competing against each other for citizens.
"One indication that these are not entirely frivolous pursuits, she says, is that those considering leaving are to be found “in the holy of holies of the regime — in the military and defense sector,” where some senior officers, “not having received the apartments they were promised, sent a declaration to the U.S. saying they wanted to serve in the American army.”

Thus, “the collection of signatures on Sakhalin is not a rarity. Soon they will begin to be collected in Moscow.” And according to Novodvorskaya, just one thing remains: “to divide up the territory and people of Russia among the United States, Japan and the European Union” so that the Russian people will be able to live better."
I'm sure everyone at Reason and Cato is waiting with bated breath for the outcome.