Saturday, February 15, 2020

80 Percent of Signatories of Manifesto Rejecting Constitutional Amendments Aren’t from Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 10 – A Nezavisimaya gazeta article entitled “The ‘No’ Campaign has Penetrated into the Regions” that implies that this is a Moscow effort that the regions have joined nonetheless reports that 80 percent of those who have signed the Open Russia manifesto calling for protests are not from the Russian capital (

            That a Moscow journalist should report that the idea originated in the capital and only later spread to “the provinces” is no surprise: that perspective informs most of the reporting about developments in Russia in general and protests in particular. But in this case and increasingly in others it misrepresents the situation.

            Given the Internet, information about developments is available in Kamchatka almost as fast as it is within the Garden Ring; and Russian citizens beyond the ring road are becoming angry and activist just as fast or even faster than in the capital where the Putin regime works especially hard to keep things quiet.

            This new reality is something that Russian and Western journalists based in Moscow are going to have to take into consideration rather than simply assume that everything including opposition to the regime rises and sets first in Moscow and only later in other parts of the country.

            At the end of Soviet times, some in the Russian capital and abroad turned their attention to the periphery of the country because of the non-Russian activism in many union republics. But they devoted remarkably little attention to what was going on in predominantly Russian regions of the country.

            As a result, they typically missed the rise of ethnic Russian regionalism in the early 1990s and the transformation of political life more recently in places many Muscovites assume may respond two what Moscow is doing but will not, perhaps even cannot, be the originators or equal partners of those at the center.

            Opposition to Putin’s proposed constitutional amendments is a case in point.  There, people and commentators in the regions are at least as advanced as Muscovites.  For background on this, see,, and

            It is time to take notice, and not remain satisfied with talk about how Moscow ideas have “penetrated into the regions.”

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