Staunton, August 17 – Life has become “unbearable” for the residents of the former Dolgano-Nenets Autonomous District, a poll of residents finds; and 1197 of 1200 of them have appealed to Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders to adopt a law that will allow them to reverse that 2005 action.
Their request for a referendum on this point has been turned down twice by the Krasnoyarsk authorities; they are now in the process of making a third such request; but because they do not expect a positive answer, they are appealing to Moscow for a new law that will give them that right (svoboda.org/a/28679409.html).
Dolgan and Nenets activists say, and the indigenous population overwhelmingly agrees that “after the dissolution of the autonomy” in 2005 as part of Vladimir Putin’s regional amalgamation drive, “life in the Taymyr became unbearable: the quality of state services declined, as did the state of roads and transport, medicine and education.”
Twelve years ago, the residents voted 70 percent in favor of amalgamation but only because they were promised that their lives would become better. The reverse has happened, and the people there are angry. Indeed, they have been among the most prominent critics of Putin’s program since the outset.
(On that and for background, see windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2010/07/window-on-eurasia-amalgamated-minority.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2008/11/window-on-eurasia-putin-policies.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/10/window-on-eurasia-non-russian-units-in.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2011/03/window-on-eurasia-national-districts-of.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/06/window-on-eurasia-non-russian-regions.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/06/another-partial-retreat-from-putins.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/07/putins-regional-amalgamation-program.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/05/northern-peoples-seek-to-reverse-putins.html.)
The appeal by the Taymyr activists is almost certainly going to be ignored by Moscow and turned down by Krasnoyarsk. After all, regional amalgamation is one of Putin’s signature programs. But the new poll showing almost universal unhappiness with that program in the Taymyr will have three important consequences:
First, it will further radicalize opinion in the Taymyr, many of whose residents have protested and been repressed in various ways for more than a decade. Second, it will encourage dissent in the five other autonomous oblasts that Putin has succeeded in folding into larger and predominantly ethnic Russian federation subjects.
These include the Evenk AO which was also folded into Krasnoyarsk kray, the Ust-Orda Buryat AO that was included within Irkutsk oblast, the Komi-Permyak AO which was combined with Perm oblast to form Perm kray, the Agin Buryat AO which was combined with China oblast to form the Transbaikal kray, and the Koryak AO which was linked to Kamchatka oblast which also became a kray.
But third – and this is by far the most important result – it will send a powerful message to Russians as well as non-Russians within the Russian Federation that they are not alone if they find Putin policies objectionable and that by itself may encourage ever more of them to speak out in opposition to the Kremlin leader.