Friday, December 7, 2018

Russian Opposition Draws Criticism for Resuming Moscow-Centric Focus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 6 – At a time when protests and demonstrations are increasing in both non-Russian republics and predominantly ethnic Russian regions, the country’s main opposition forum has dropped its earlier tentative efforts to address issues beyond the capital’s ring road and resumed its Moscow-centric focus.

            During the first four conventions of the Forum of Free Russia, organizers did not have a special panel devoted to issues of federalism or decentralization.  At the fifth forum, they did have a separate one; but at the sixth, which will take place this Friday and Saturday, they dropped their separate treatment of these subjects.

            But this time, the failure of the forum to look beyond Moscow has sparked criticism, an indication of growing activism at the regional and republic level, something that the Moscow-centric opposition will continue to ignore at its peril because it cannot hope to come to power or to govern unless it involves Russians outside of the capital.

            The Coordination Council of the Free Ingria Movement sent a message to the organizers and participants of the Sixth Forum of Free Russia expressing regret that the group, which “up to now has been considered the most free and independent discussion space” for the opposition will be ignoring issues outside of Moscow (

                The Free Ingria Movement said it would send an observer but not a participant to the Vilnius meeting and declared “We hope that the theme of the emancipation of the regions of the Russian Federation, federalization, and decentralization of the former empire will again appear on the agenda of the Forum of Free Russia, after which time we will be able to continue active cooperation.”

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