Saturday, May 28, 2016

One of Russia’s Most Fundamental Problems Again on View in Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 28 – At the end of Soviet times, it was often observed that one of the things that set the Russian Federation apart from the non-Russian republics was that those concerned with human rights issues and those focusing on ethno-national ones like historical preservation were separate in the case of the Russians but often united among non-Russians.

            That meant not only that the non-Russian movements could draw on energy from both sets of concerns but also that the Russian ethno-national trends were often less informed by democratic and human rights concerns than were those in the non-Russian republics, a difference that has played out in the post-Soviet national movements since 1991.

            In a comment on the portal, Yury Samodurov reports on a meeting two days ago where some 500 people called for the declaration of Moscow as a historic city and the formation of a supervisory council that would block the destruction of historical monuments by the state or developers (

            To his “surprise,” the activist says, he “met at the meeting only ten acquaintances of which there was not a SINGLE one [he] knew personally or from television from Solidarity, Parnas, Yabloko, suppers of Navalny or from the human rights community,” that is, from liberal groups.

            That apparently happened, Samodurov continues, because “activists of these parties weren’t there or weren’t there in any numbers” since their organizations did not inform their followers that the meeting was to take place. Instead, the only groups that did were more conservative ones like Another Russia which actively spread the word.

            “It seemed to [him],” he says, “extraordinarily indicative and strange that the circles of those defending the city and activists of democratic and human rights organizations almost do not intersect,” even though at the level of declarations, many in the latter say they are concerned about the same thing.

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