Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sakha Farmers Demand Ouster of Republic Head

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 9 – A group of farmers in Sakha (Yakutia) have accused Yegor Borisov, the head of the republic, of destroying agriculture there, engaging in massive corruption, and  destroying the Sakha people and demanded he be replaced, an example of the way in which popular anger about specific problems can quickly take on a broader political coloration..

            What is most striking about this letter is that it could have been written by residents of any other federal subject of the Russian Federation about the heads of those krays, oblasts and republics or even by the residents of the Russian Federation as a whole. But it wasn’t. Instead, the Sakha far from Moscow took the lead.

            The 880-word open letter, signed by 13 Sakha farmers, was posted online by “Vesti Yakutii” two days ago (

.           The authors begin respectfully noting that Borisov like themselves “was born and grew up in a village” and thus “like no one else knows what the life of the village is. That is why,” they say, “we rural people have always supported you … But now we understand with regret that you alone are guilty” of destroying Sakha agriculture.     
Seventy percent of the villages need subsidies because their situation is so dire that in their centers there are “unemployed people of the titular nationality.” Your pension alone is several hundred thousands of rubles while rural residents get if anything ten thousand, “a picture which is confirmation of how you have responded to the aspirations of your people.”
            “You either do not understand this or do not want to understand this,” the authors of the open letter say. “You send billions from the budget to media under your control … so that its outlets wil praise you and your supposed services before the republic and its residents.” In doing so, you show what you really think of those residents.
            But your contempt for them, the authors suggest, is even greater than that as shown by Borisov’s frequent assertions in recent months that “there is no need to support agriculture and the village … Does this mean that you are no longer interested in the problems and life of the rural population?”
            “Yegor Afanasyevich,” they continue, “you live on our tax moneys.” How can you justify your enormous salary and your dachas in every district and city of the republic?  And how has your daughter managed to amass “eight billion rubles” (160 million US dollars) on her declared income?
            “We now understand that we made a big error when we trusted you with the leadership of the republic,” and that understanding is only growing as you approve the building of chemical plants which do not benefit the population, give tax credits to firms which hire only outsiders, and rent land to China.
            While you have been doing all of this, the number of head of livestock in Sakha has fallen from 409,000 in 1990 to only 194,000 last year – and despite this, “you refuse to subside the rural economy.”
            “The list of your affairs could be extended,” the authors say.
            “We can only conclude that you have intensified your work on the destruction of the Sakha people,” they write. In other republics, the heads work for the people; but you do not. Instead, you simply try to keep yourself in power by putting down all talents people and to amass as much wealth as possible.
            “We see everything and we know everything,” the open letter says. “Today, not one political party or public organization can be organized without your approval from one high. Everyone votes only for your backers. In the Il Tuumen, of 70 deputies, 51 are from United Russia. Also selected not without your participation.”
            “You with the help of your people do what you want; you unilaterally disperse the budget of Sakha. You are in a corrupt conspiracy with the judges. Why and for whom are you doing all this?” they ask.
            “If you have any conscience left, you must leave” your position, the open letter concludes, and it promises that we, the residents of the villages, will seek that someone comes to the leadership of the republic who meets all the demands of the contemporary world!”

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