Staunton, October 16 – Ten members of the informal consultative council Khabarovsk governor Mikhail Degtyaryov resigned after he used force to disperse a protest meeting on October 10, effectively killing this effort to get protesters and officials to speak with one another there and making it less likely that anyone else will adopt a similar strategy elsewhere.
Two prominent experts on developments in that kray and the Russian Far East as a whole, political consultant Daniil Yermilov and political technologist Aleksandr Ognyevsky discussed what has happened and what it means with the editors of the regionalist portal Club-RF.ru (club-rf.ru/27/detail/4624).
Yermilov says that many of those who initially agreed to be part of this consultative council were “not pleased by how the governor behaved at its first session” on October 8. He behaved “in a imperial fashion like a tsarist agent. No one liked this.” When Degtyaryov sent in the police on the 10th, it was simply too much for them to stand.
Even if the governor had not cracked down, the council could hardly have become “a coalition organ.” According to him, “this is not a council; it is an imitation,” although at first it seemed like an interesting idea that might be able at least in part to bridge the gap between the people in government offices and the people in the street.
Ognyevsky says that what the ten who left did was simply “the normal reaction of civil society” which had tried to find a compromise with the authorities only to be slapped in the face. He says that this development will contribute to the further decay of the system of power in the kray.
“In my view,” he says, “in Khabarovsk kray now is something like Gulyai-Pole: on the one hand the powers are trying to hold everything tightly, but on the other, we see attempts at popular power. That is, in fact, all this is being transformed into a kind of Makhno-style situation; and it is difficult to predict how all this will work out.”
Ognyevsky says that he believes things are likely to come to a head at the end of the winter holidays. Residents will be running out of money, and a power vacuum may have emerged. If the population decides it has nothing to lose, then no one can say what might happen.”
One should keep in mind, he says, that that date is only two months from now.