Thursday, April 6, 2017

‘Let Us Grieve on Our Own’ – Why Putin’s Call for Anti-Terrorist Meetings May Backfire

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 5 – Vladimir Putin’s call for authorities in Russia’s regions – and especially those where anti-regime protests occurred on March 26 – to organize anti-terrorist meetings is so transparently political that it has offended many Russians who say they should be allowed to grieve on their own and thus may backfire on the Kremlin.

The Kremlin leader has called for the regions to organize such meetings in the wake of the St. Petersburg subway bombing as a way of promoting national unity (

But as more than one commentator has pointed out, Putin’s motivations are transparent and have little or nothing to do with anything but his own power: he wants meetings in places where the March 26 demos took place in order to show that he can bring out more people than Aleksey Navalny did (

That intensifies antagonism toward Putin among the opposition, but Putin’s efforts to exploit grief this time around is offending far more Russians who say that for them it is important to grieve individually rather than in some formal and meaningless public exercise (

To the extent that such feelings grow, the Putin regime’s efforts in this regard will backfire leading ever more Russians to view the regime as concerned only about its own survival rather than the welfare of the people. That is something the opposition has argued for a long time: Now, by his clumsy and overreaching action, Putin has unintentionally encouraged Russians to believe exactly that.

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