Monday, August 12, 2019

‘It’s Better Not to Joke with Siberians’ – A Real Popular Protest is Emerging in the Regions

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 9 – Novosibirsk commentator Nikita Isayev notes that protests in the regions are often dismissed as being about specific issues rather than general political principles like those in Moscow, but he suggests that is wrong (  and

            In his city, the authorities lost a gubernatorial election because they thought they could ignore the people. Now, they are doing the same thing again, pushing for an almost nine percent price hike for communal services, something residents there are not about to put up with. “It’s better not to joke with Siberians,” he says, noting that ever more of them are taking to the streets.

            What is now clear, he says, is that “tomorrow not 400 people will go into the streets” if the authorities continue to ignore the population. “The day after that a thousand, the day after that, three thousand, and then five – and finally everyone.” And this will extend throughout Siberia and then the entire country.

            The Kremlin will lose not just a governor as it did with Gorodetsky in 2017. It will lose something more, the possibility of remaining in power except by repression because it will face a people fighting to defend their standard of living rather than some abstract principle. That may not attract as much attention from the Moscow-centric media; but it is far more powerful.

            The Moscow protests get the most attention, but focusing on them is to miss the point, Isayev says. “The political system of the country as a w hole is beginning to change.” If the opposition had good leaders, it might get in the Duma in the 2021 elections.  But an opposition based on people’s interests as in Siberia will change things even if that doesn’t happen.

            “A year of protests will begin in the regions this fall, and next year, 2020, will be a year of real protests.” But, and this is Isayev’s point, “this will not be the liberal protest of Navalny of 2017 or 2018 or the KPRF protests of 2018.”  It will be something else and something the powers that be can’t simply ignore or totally suppress.

            This new protest wave, he concludes, will be “a real one, a popular one which will give birth to a new opposition which knows its own people and is capable of defeating the powers that be.” 

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