Staunton, September 29 – Darya Polyudova, the first person convicted under Article 280.1 for calls to violate the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, says that Moscow’s efforts, often successful, to suppress regionalist groups only highlight the center’s fears about the powers of such ideas and attract attention of people to them.
She tells Yaroslav Zolotaryev, a Siberian regionalist who works with the Region.Expert portal, that she was pleased to take part in an attempt to organize an anti-imperial march in Tomsk even though it landed her, along with others involved, in detention for ten days (region.expert/darja/).
Polyudova was released from prison in 2016 after a two-year sentence for her involvement in the March for the Federalization of Kuban and her criticism of centralism. Even though she is out, she still is banned from teaching, the media, and public protests. Those restrictions last until the end of October. Until then, she must report to the authorities regularly.
She went to Siberia, she says, because “like the Left Resistance” of which she is a member, she “supporters the freedom of all regions, including of course Siberia. And when I was invited to take part in the Siberian anti-imperial march, I willingly came.” She has no regrets about her detention: “a negative result is also a result.”
Moreover, Polyudova continues, “I was glad to meet and talk with Siberian activists whose views are close to men. And by banning the march and incarcerating me, the powers that be only popularized our ideas.” Such things matter especially at a time when as a result of the overwhelming police power of the state, most regionalist movements are not active.
“Today in the Kuban,” for example, “unfortunately regionalism is almost suppressed; as an active political movement, it doesn’t exist. But approximately the same picture we see in other oblasts and krays [because] the powers that be everywhere very much fear such ideas” and that is why they try to suppress those who spread them.
But Polyudova concludes: support for genuine local self-administration exist in Kuban “and are constantly manifest on social networks. So that in case of some political changes, I do not doubt that we will begin to see mass public demonstrations for a free Kuban.”