Anti-Russia mood in Kaliningrad

  • 2002-03-21
  • Wire reports

Separatist sentiments are increasing in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant..

A recent editorial in the newspaper noted a wave of anti-Russia feeling sweeping the exclave as part of a backlash against excessive bureaucracy.

With fears over the entry into NATO and the European Union by surrounding countries on the decline, the desire for self-government and independence from Moscow is increasing, according to the newspaper.

The idea of Kaliningrad becoming a fourth Baltic state has also been raised among the region's 1 million residents, the newspaper wrote.

Secessionist tendencies are most rife among the region's young people. A recent anonymous public opinion survey found almost 60 percent of those under 28 were in favor of breaking with Russia.

Many young people in the heavily militarized, economically backward region have had the opportunity to travel abroad but have never been to Russia itself.

The region's administration reportedly wants a state program initiated to get Kaliningrad's youths acquainted with "Greater Russia."

The issue was raised with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov when he visited the region earlier this month.

The Soviet Union occupied Konigsberg, which was once part of the German province of East Prussia, following World War II. What is now known as Kaliningrad, the northern half of the province, passed into Soviet hands following the war.

There have been various proposals from Russia and neighboring states as to the ultimate status of the region.

Kasyanov said it is similar to an overseas Russian territory, but one that operates under slightly different laws than the Russian mainland.