Staunton, December 7 – The meeting of Russian intellectuals and extra-systemic politicians in Vilnius not surprisingly has attracted more attention, but a gathering of groups that have protested or gone on strike in defense of their individual interests in the may come to play a far larger role in Russia’s future.
Today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, reports that groups that have protested wage arrears, bank fraud and other social and economic issues separately in 40 federal subjects have agreed to cooperate and take actions in support of one another. Other groups, including the long-haul drivers and farmers, may join them (ng.ru/politics/2017-12-07/1_7131_protest.html).
The confederation has not yet been formally established, Nikolay Mironov of the Moscow Center for Economic and Political Reforms, but the willingness of such groups to cooperate lays the basis for the kind of labor and social solidarity that could pose serious challenges for the regime.
Importantly, the expert continues, “the initiative [for this step] initially came from below,” an indication of the increasing willingness of those protesting against one form of injustice to join forces with those protesting against other kinds.
The group hopes to have regional branches in at least 40 subjects to coordinate action and to ensure that the authorities will not be able to play one group against another. By working together, the activists say, there will now be a chance that even the smallest group will gain a hearing and thus a better chance to achieve its own goals as well as those of others.
It appears that the Russian government’s recent decision to declare the Carriers Union a foreign agent may be intended to make it more difficult for other groups to cooperate with it, but the union’s chief, Andrey Bazhutin says that this label doesn’t present any problem for his members and shouldn’t for others either.
Ilya Shablinsky, a member of the Presidential Human Rights council “completely supports this initiative and promises to work so that it will be given support by the Council.” The formation of such a confederation, he says, “is very timely” since ordinary Russians are suffering and losing many of their rights.