Staunton, May 28 – Protests in ever more predominantly ethnic Russian regions, losses by United Russia candidates in primaries there, and upcoming elections in others have prompted the Kremlin to step up its campaign against regionalist Internet portals lest they mobilize and channel this anger in even more overtly anti-Moscow and anti-Putin directions.
Yesterday, two of the most important regionalist portals, Free Urals (freeural.org) and Free Ingria (freeingria.org) long blocked in Russia, ceased to work at all. Andrey Romanov, now in emigration, says his Free Urals site is hosted in Germany and he suspects the FSB had put pressure on that firm to drop his site (region.expert/attack/).
Pavel Mezerin, also in emigration, says his Free Ingria site was taken down by its host after complaints that it was disseminating spam. Those complaints are untrue but standard operating procedure for Russian trolls who want to see a site taken down. He hopes that after the hosting company does a check, the site will be accessible by the end of the week.
Russian pressure against these two sites and others, like Free Idel Ural which has tried to maintain a page on Facebook despite repeated Russian attacks, have been intensifying over the last few months (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/01/moscow-steps-up-campaign-against.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/05/tatar-leaders-in-exile-appeal-to-west.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/03/moscows-actions-highlight-its-growing.html).
Regionalism may not be as strong as its activists and this author – see my “Regionalism as the Nationalism of the Next Russian Revolution” (afterempire.info/2016/12/28/regionalism/) – believe; but by its actions, the Kremlin is clearly worried that it already is or could be – and are devoting ever more effort and resources to prevent it from gaining new adherents.