Wednesday, October 3, 2018

‘A Revolution May Occur Only in Moscow, But Politics Can Return to Russia in the Regions,’ Ponomaryev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 3 – Ilya Ponomaryev, a Russian opposition politician now living in exile in Ukraine, says that ultimately a revolution may occur only in Moscow but that politics can return to Russia in the regions and become the incubators for change in the Russian Federation as a whole.

            In a conversation with Vadim Shtepa, the editor of the After Empire portal, Ponomaryev says that he is “absolutely convinced” that “the rebirth of politics in Russia will begin precisely in the regions. … revolution can take place [only] in the capital, but it clearly is beginning not there and the moving forces are in the regions” (

            What is holding the regions back, he continues, is that while there is overwhelming agreement that Moscow is stealing from them and should be reined in, there is widespread concern that any call for more local government and control could lead the country down the path to disintegration.  That view must be overcome if the regions are to play the role they can.

            But there is a conceptual problem as well among those who follow events in Russia. Overwhelmingly they focus on events only in Moscow and consider developments in the regions only when they generate a reaction among officials and commentators within the ring road, as was the case with reactions to regional defeats of United Russia in the September 9 voting.

            To the extent Ponomaryev and Shtepa are right, it is critically important to track what is going on in the regions not just in terms of its immediate impact on Moscow but also in terms of what it means for political life in them and thus in the longer term for political life and even revolutionary change in the country as a whole.

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