Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Having Emptied Political Space, Moscow Unwittingly Allowed Ecological Protests to Enter It and Become Political, Aysin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 3 – Nature abhors a vacuum, and when Moscow drained Russia’s political space of all content, it unwittingly opened the way for protests about environmental issues to enter it and inevitably become political however often activists and the government said they didn’t want this to happen, according to Kazan political analyst Ruslan Aysin.

            “The present-day ecological or civic protest in Russia sooner or later will take the form or be structured into political protest since the political space is now a desert and has been drained of all content by the powers that be, he points out in an article on the IdelReal portal (idelreal.org/a/29142231.html).

            Protests often begin in spaces “which do not belong to the political sphere” initially but become the basis for political conflict remarkably rapidly. That happened in medieval Europe, and it is happening in Russia where people are going into the streets because of unbearable local conditions, in this case trash dumps around Moscow.

            “This was to a certain degree something unexpected for local regional officials … They were not prepared for this.”  Some officials elsewhere are learning from what has happened near the capital, while others in other parts of the Russian Federation have not yet done so, the Kazan political analyst continues.

            The government of Tatarstan appears to be among those most aware that officials must now reach out to the protesters early on lest things get out of hand – or as some might say, become political. One must give the republic officials their due because they at least have understood in time that “the problem is very deep” and that talks are needed.

            “In my view,” Aysin continues, “this is a very healthy and very correct position because Tatarstan can provide a model to the rest of the subjects of the Russian Federation how to conduct dialogue with the population and how to arrange relations with civil society because under civil society we include above all communities affected by a specific idea.”

            “Unfortunately,” he says, it seems to be the case that such forward steps happen only in the wake of a crisis or a disaster and are not part of the normal way of doing business. But they may open the door to broader conversations between the powers and the population. If so, that will make a major advance.

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