Monday, July 15, 2019

Capital’s Hard Line on Local Election Registration Further Radicalizing Muscovites, Yudin Says


Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 14 – Moscow residents have never been fans of United Russia and would never overwhelmingly back its candidates, but the authorities have decided to ensure that 90 percent of the local deputies will be from that party using various pretexts to disqualify opposition candidates rather than coopting moderate opponents, sociologist Grigory Yudin says.

            That approach “could have worked five years ago,” he says; “but today after the municipal elections and waves of protest voting in the regions, attempting to pact the Moscow parliament with United Russia people is something only those who have lost contact with reality would try” (blog.newsru.com/article/14jul2019/protest).

            Not only has this approach of the party of power led the various democratic opposition groups to cooperate but it has radicalized them, leading to protests in the streets.  The only question now is whether these protests will be large enough and sustained enough to force the authorities to change course, the sociologist continues.

            Unfortunately, the authorities do not understand that by seeking to exclude candidates by challenging the signatures they have collected, they are alienating not only the candidates but also those who signed their petitions, Yudin says.  If the city wanted to create a real opposition, this would be “the best possible recipe.”

            And many of the challenges that the authorities are using are so transparently designed to exclude opposition figures that everyone can see what is going on. “What difference does it make if someone writes “city” and someone else “c” if it is obvious that 5,000 people want to see a particular candidate on the ballot?”

            “As of today,” the sociologist says, “we have a strong democratic coalition with serious popular support which thanks to the collection of signatures has a complete moral advantage: they fulfilled idiotic demands, the people stand behind them, and they must be registered. The initiative is in the hands of the coalition.”

            That makes protest meetings like the one today in which more than a thousand people took part (dailystorm.ru/news/v-moskve-proshla-akciya-v-podderzhku-nezavisimyh-kandidatov-v-mosgordumu) “decisive,” Yudin argues.  “Mass protests are the only thing which the Moscow powers that be are interested in and the only thing they fear.”

            In 2011-2012, Russians, including Muscovites, went into the streets to protest the falsification of elections after they occurred and by their actions shook the power vertical in a serious way. Now, they have been driven into the streets before the voting takes place by officials who do not understand what their actions will lead to. 

Ingushetia Gets Its Own Golunov Case


Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 14 – There have been days when the Ingush authorities under Yunus-Bek Yevkuroov arrested more people than they did under Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov yesterday, but the outcry that followed the arrest of Fortanga journalist Rashid Maysigov and curator Zarifa Sautiyeva, the first woman detained, has exceeded almost any before.

            Ingush are especially outraged because of this attack on a journalist they are equating to Moscow investigative journalist Igor Golunov and on a woman, a violation of local mores about respecting females and a heroine for many because of her work in memorializing those who were victims of Soviet oppression (newsru.com/russia/13jul2019/maisigov.html).

            The residents of the republic appear to be especially outraged because they had expected better of the new republic head.  His failure to stop the wave of repression launched by his predecessor and indeed his willingness to continue it or alternatively his inability to stop it is returning the political temperature in Ingushetia to a boil (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/337811/).


These demands were intensified when Maysigov’s lawyer reported that the journalist has already been the subject of torture (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/337827/). Sautiyev’s day in court when it will be established how long she will be held is scheduled to be on Monday. At that time, more protests are likely (zamanho.com/?p=10561).

Meanwhile, doctors in Moscow said that the Ingush girl who had been a victim of torture was doing better and that they expected to be able to save her damaged hand (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/337833/).

Is Moscow about to Follow Regions with Protests about Disposal of Radioactive Wastes?


Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 14 – Residents in many regions are protesting against Moscow’s disposal of nuclear wastes where they live (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/environmental-protests-in-russia.html). Now, the same thing may be about to occur in the Russian capital where Greenpeace activists and local deputies have discovered a serious problem.

            Rashid Alimov, an activist for Greenpeace Russia, and Sergey Vlasov, a city deputy, are calling attention to the fact that the government plans to build a new highway directly above a place where officials admit there are still tens of thousands of tons of radioactive wastes (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/07/13/81228-esli-kopnut-poglubzhe).

            The project, to develop the southeast “chord” of the highway network is slated to pass over territory where a plant has been dumping radioactive wastes since the 1930s. Small amounts of these wastes have been removed as a result of concerns about workers there over the last 20 years, but now the full extent of the problem is becoming obvious. 

            Construction could throw particles of this waste into the atmosphere or water supply and cause serious health problems.  But at present there are no plans to move the road or engage in a serious clean up because the costs of doing either are too high and the demands for the relief of Moscow’s traffic problems too great.

            Moscow officials have refused permits for 12 demonstrations against the project, but pressure appears to be growing to do something. The issue has passed from opposition media like Novaya gazeta to popular outlets like Moskvich (moskvichmag.ru/grinpis-obnaruzhil-v-grunte-na-beregu-moskvy-reki-ekstremalnyj-radiatsionnyj-fon/).