Thursday, August 23, 2018

Opposition, Media in Federal Subjects Focus on All-Russian Rather than Local Issues

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, head of Ingushetia, says that opposition parties capable of doing “something useful” for their native republic don’t exist because most of them simply consist of former who perhaps should be described as unsuccessful politicians and officials (

                But there is another and much more serious problem in this regard, Radio Svoboda commentator Ramazan Alpaut points out, and it is this: many in the political parties and media at the regional level are more focused on what is going on in Moscow than in what is happening or should be happening in their home republics or regions (

            Thus, for example, activists and the media in Tatarstan focus, appropriately enough, on the plight of Oleg Sentsov; but they don’t, in appropriately, mention the cases of political prisoner Danis Safargali or the forced emigration of Rafis Kashapov, despite the close ties of both to Kazan.

            Activists like Dmitry Semenov, the deputy head of Open Russia, acknowledge that this problem exists but does not offer a solution given that only a few cases, like Sentsov’s, attract attention while others do not. “Unfortunately, we are beginning to treat this pattern as somehow in the nature of things,” something that he says is “a definite professional deformation.”

            Other political activists are less sympathetic to calls for more attention to be devoted to local and regional issues.  They say that the battle is at the center and so it is appropriate that people focus on that. But this means that regional battles are seldom joined and Russians thus seldom gain the experience at that level that could be translated to the center.

            The media in the regions often is equally Moscow-centric, allowing officials to go their own way without the scrutiny they should be subject to and without the population taking seriously the notion that they have an interest in what regional elites are doing or not doing, Alpaut continues.

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