Staunton, September 13 – Moscow’s decision to avoid taking a hard line on the protests in Khabarovsk has brought it a short-term benefit, El Murid says, leading to a decline in the number of participants in the protests and in the coverage of these demonstrations and the issues they raise.
But Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name El Murid, says that Moscow adopted that approach not because of its understanding of the situation but because it doesn’t have enough forces to “defend Putin fascism everywhere” and so must pick and choose when to employ violence (el-murid.livejournal.com/4545992.html).
Moscow is certainly pleased that Khabarovsk has been reduced to “background noise,” the blogger continues; but it fails to see that ignoring problems even in this vegetarian way only guarantees that they will re-emerge later in more severe and threatening ways. That is what is certain to happen in the wake of Khabarovsk.
On the one hand, some people, seeing what the residents of Khabarovsk were able to do without having violence visited upon them, may decide to take similar actions only to discover that the authorities in that case will use force, radicalizing participants and observers rather than intimidating anyone into quiescence.
And on the other, those inclined to protest in Khabarovsk or elsewhere will soon forget how the authorities treated them in all ways except one: in this case as is virtually all others, Moscow has failed to take the protests of the population seriously and change its policies in response.
That the Putin regime is incapable of doing otherwise has long been obvious, El Murid says. Were the situation otherwise, Russia would not be in the straits that it is. Russians are gradually recognizing this reality, and the way in which the Kremlin responded to Khabarovsk may look clever to the Putin team – but not to the Russian people.