Staunton, July 14 – The Forum of Free Russia, a group that unites Russian liberals inside the current borders of the Russian Federation and abroad, has issued a statement, “We are with You!” as yet another group like journalists in the capital which is a victim or repression and the solution to whose problems are the same (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F0D97E00EAA2).
Such declarations by the Forum are welcome. All too often, the group has overlooked problems beyond the ring road and taken a hands’ off approach to regionalist and national movements (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/11/russian-federalists-dissidents-among.html).
In its latest statement, the Forum does the same thing, treating what goes on in most of Russia as identical in nature to what goes on in Moscow, with their problems arising from the same source and their solutions the same as well. While there are many commonalities, the issues truly are different. But that is not the Forum’s view.
“We express a sharp protest against the intensifying repressions in Russia,” it declares. “Despite their selective and targeted character, we understand that in the course of the degradation of the Putin regime, repressions may acquire a truly massive and harsh character, [and] we must now attract the world’s attention to what is taking place in Russia.”
“Everyone carrying out these repressions will be included in ‘the Putin list’ (spisok-putina.org/) … An in a future free Russia, besides the inevitable lustration, they will face trial. All the authors of repressive draconian laws, heads of force structures, the most odious regime propagandists, and of course, the leaders of the Presidential Administration which coordinates the actions of this mafia conglomerate will face a special Tribunal, which will assess their actions and assign them just punishment …
“We also express our support to all persecuted civic activists and journalists and also the residents of Khabarovsk who are making use of their right to protest,” the Forum of Free Russia says in conclusion, not surprisingly listing the massive Khabarovsk protests last and on exactly the same level as the others.
In this declaration as in so many others, the Forum fails to recognize that the thinking of people beyond the ring road has gone far beyond theirs. People in Khabarovsk do not assume that changing the cast of characters in Moscow will solve their problems. Instead, they recognize that what is needed is truly systemic change.
It would be wonderful if a future government brought the criminals now in power in Moscow to trial, but it would be tragic if that government assumed that relations between the center and the periphery did not require wholesale revision, including the possibility of exit of some regions.
Many in Khabarovsk and other regions and republics very much doubt as Lech Walesa once put it that Russia can be a democracy in its current borders, and they would prefer democracy rather than maintenance of the current lines on the map (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/04/russia-cannot-become-democracy-in-its.html
“Today in the Far East,” Yakovenko concedes, “there is no political force which could transform the powerful anti-Moscow protest into a struggle for the state sovereignty of this territory.” But when the economic crisis deepens, the political crisis will also deepen and in the first instance in places far from the capital.
When that happens, “the appearance of a local movement for separation from Moscow will become practically inevitable,” he continues, noting that Putin’s policies have pushed many parts of the country in that direction but are likely to have their first fruits not in one or another non-Russian republic but in the predominantly Russian-speaking Far East.