Thursday, February 7, 2019

‘Optimization’ Means ‘Liquidation,’ Pomors Say, and ‘We Don’t Want to Be Liquidated’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 6 – Residents of Nyukhcha, a Pomor village in Karelia, recognizing that when Moscow says “optimization,” it means “liquidation,” have successfully stood up to Petrozvodsk’s plans to shut down the local school in the name of saving money and ship off its remaining pupils to a residential facility elsewhere.

            Residents, many of whom declared themselves to be Pomors in the last census despite Russian efforts to downplay that identity as distinct from Russian, collected 50,000 signatures against the closure of the school and staged protest meetings despite warnings from officials that such assemblies were a violation of the law (

            Despite this threat of legal action, officials backed down and announced three days ago that the Nyukhcha school will remain in operation.  But local people no longer trust the officials and say they will keep up their protests and take other actions to ensure that their local school won’t be “optimized” out of existence.

                “We know that ‘optimization’ is a euphemism for ‘liquidation,’” local activist Konstantin Popova says. “We do not want to be liquidated!” If anyone is to be “optimized,” he said, let it be the officials in the republic education. Most of them do no useful work. “Optimize” them and thus save the schools and the people.”

            He continued: “We will not allow them to reduce and optimize us! We have been living here 500 years and intend to continue to live here.” He and others are taking additional steps to ensure that is so: A few weeks ago, residents created an 11-member council to promote the development of the village.”

            “In fact,” Valery Potashov says, “the appearance [of this body] has become the first step toward the restoration of local self-administration which was liquidated six years ago. Then the old Pomor village lost is administrative independence. Now, everything will depend on whether the residents take the next step” and demand self-administration for Karelia as a whole.

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