Staunton, March 29 – Vladimir Putin has “spat in the face of the people of Kemerovo” by having his aides make clear that he will not meet popular demands that he fire Governor Aman Tuleyev. According to Tatyana Alekseyeva, the Kremlin leader “does not want to create a precedent by removing a major figure in response to pressure from society.”
Street protests may not be the best voice of the people, but in Putin’s Russia, those who are suffering like the Russians of Kemerovo in the wake of the shopping mall fire have few other ways of making their demands heard; and in calling for Tuleyev’s sacking, they were following a old Russian tradition (rusmonitor.com/kemerovchane-poluchili-plevok-v-lico-ot-putina.html).
The Kremlin’s decision was first reported by RBC and then expanded upon by Novaya gazeta (novayagazeta.ru/news/2018/03/28/140567-rbk-v-kremle-reshili-ne-provodit-pokazatelnuyu-otstavku-tuleeva). It is, as Alekseyeva points out, a reflection of the cynicism of Putin and his contempt for the population.
But unfortunately, it did not mark the lowest point in the response of the Putinists to what happened in Kemerovo. At least up to now, the commentator suggests, that has been provided by Federal Council member Elena Mizulina, notorious not only for her often outrageous statements but also for her authorship of some of the most repressive pieces of Putin-era legislation.
Speaking on Russia-1 television, the senator said she wanted to express her sympathies to Putin after the fire in Kemerovo, an attack she described as “a knife in the back” to the Russian president. “Reflect on that,” Alekseyeva says. She wants sympathy not for those who lost relatives in the fire but for Putin.
Meanwhile, opposition Duma deputies from the KPRF, LDPR, and Just Russia Parties also called for Tuleyev to go. But they did not demand that the Kremlin fire him perhaps sensing this would have been an action of lese majeste. Instead, they called on the governor to quit (newizv.ru/news/society/29-03-2018/parlamentskaya-oppozitsiya-potrebovala-otstavki-tuleeva).