Kaliningrad Oblast

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Kaliningrad Oblast (Russian: Калинингра́дская о́бласть, Kaliningradskaya Oblast; informally called Yantarny kray (Янта́рный край, meaning amber region) is a federal oblast) of Russia on the Baltic coast. Its only city and administrative center is Kaliningrad (formerly known as Königsberg), which has historical significance as both a major city of Prussia and the capital of the former and now occupied German province of East Prussia, of which the Kaliningrad enclave remains the northern remnant. Population: 968,200 (2004 est.); 955,281 (2002 Census); 871,283 (1989 Census).

Despite being the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, the enclave has no land connection to the rest of Russia, and is surrounded by Lithuania and Poland. Borderless travel to the main part of Russia is only possible by sea or air. The fact that Lithuania and Poland are now both members of the European Union and NATO means that the enclave is surrounded by potential enemies.


Following World War II the Soviet Union established a naval base at Pillau, the main port for the enclave. Since the demise of of the Soviet Union and the scaling down of the Baltic Fleet to approx. a quarter of its previous size it seems likely Pillau will be abandoned as a naval port, although in 2008 the navy was still in situ.

Inesis Feldmanis, head of the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the University of Latvia, has been quoted saying that the Soviet Union's annexation of Kaliningrad is "an error in history".

Collapse of Communism and the future

Amongst the charges leveled against Stalin's notorious deputy, Lavrentiy Beria, at his show trial in Moscow in 1953, was Beria's suggestion to his assistants that to improve foreign relations it was reasonable to transfer the Kaliningrad Oblast to Germany, part of Karelia to Finland, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic to Romania and the Kuril Islands to Japan.

Since the early 1990s there has been a proposal for independence of the Kaliningrad Oblast from Russia and the formation of a "fourth Baltic state" by some of the local people. The Baltic Republican Party was founded on 1 December 1993 with the aim of founding an autonomous Baltic Republic.[1]

In 1993, Magdalene Hoff, as Lady Chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and scholar Heinz Timmermann, went on a fact-finding mission to Kaliningrad. They presented their findings and recommendations in a report on Kaliningrad to the European Parliament on the 8 February 1994. Two German MEPs questioned the report's suggestion that Kaliningrad's status as Russian territory should remain settled, going so far as to suggest that EU finances should be used to return the territory to Germany.[2]

The Freistaat Preußen Movement, one of the most active offshoots of the Reichsbürger movement, considers the Russian (and German) government as illegitimate and see themselves as the rightful rulers of the region.[3] As of 2017, the movement is split into two competing factions, one based in Königsfeld, Rhineland-Palatinate and the other in Bonn.[3]

In the 21st century there have been a range of discussions between Russia and Germany with the object being the possibility of a return to Germany of the enclave. This has stumbled for a variety of reasons, not least what to do with the Russian population who were imported by the Soviets who settled there, plus the objections of Poland.[4]

After the Russian re-incorporation of Crimea in 2014, the political analyst Laurynas Kasčiūnas called for a revisiting of the results of the Potsdam Conference.[5] He claims that residents of Kaliningrad would support a referendum to separate from Russia.[5] The notion of a Lithuanian claim has been brushed off by Russian media, even the liberal Novaya Gazeta newspaper dismissing it as a 'geopolitical fantasy'.[6]

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