Staunton, March 17 – Moscow has trumpeted polls showing that 97 percent of Russians consider Crimea part of Russia, a position that puts them at odds with the rest of the world where only six other countries -- Afghanistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria – agree (regnum.ru/news/polit/2250254.html and echo.msk.ru/blog/aleksashenko/1944776-echo/).
If there really was enthusiasm about “Crimea is Ours,” it wouldn’t be necessary for the regime to do what it is doing in advance of marches on the third anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. As Novaya gazeta has now documented, the authorities have revived the Soviet approach to approved demonstrations (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/03/16/71800-kak-sobirayut-mitingi-v-chest-prisoedineniya-kryma).
On the one hand, Moscow officials have directed regional officials who in turn have given orders to heads of higher educational institutions and other state organizations as to precisely how many “demonstrators” they are responsible for delivering at the time the marches are to take place on Saturday.
And on the other, again via the same chain of command, those who are being directed to take part in the marches have been told precisely what slogans are needed and thus by implication precisely what slogans must not be used – an indication that officials may not be willing to take any risk that the official demonstration will be hijacked.
Meanwhile, in occupied Crimea, the situation continues to become ever more repressive and bleak, with local observers pointing out that the once peaceful peninsula has been turned into “a repressive ghetto and hybrid GULAG” by Russian occupation forces (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/government/2017-03-17/repressivnoe-getto-i-gibridnyiy-gulag-vo-chto-prevratilsya-kryim-za-tri-goda-anneksii/10968).
And even Russian outlets acknowledge that the situation in Crimea is not the picture of happiness the Kremlin constantly suggests, with Nezavisimaya gazeta saying that Crimean residents have not yet been able to “adapt” to Russian “realities,” a euphemism in this case for repression (ng.ru/politics/2017-03-16/1_6949_krum.html).
And another Russian outlet suggesting that dissatisfaction is growing among Crimeans the longer they remain under the Moscow yoke, again exactly opposite the trend that Vladimir Putin and his apologists routinely suggest is the case (newsrbk.ru/news/4219611-kryim-otmechaet-tri-goda-v-sostave-rossii-nedovolstvo-rastet.html).
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