Monday, May 20, 2019

Regionalist Movements Beginning to Link Up Across Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 19 – Many in Russia and the West view regionalism in the Russian Federation today as a way station on the road to the disintegration of the country; but it will become that if and only if the Putin regime continues to refuse to take the opinions of the people into consideration.

            Instead, regionalist movements today are primarily a display of popular solidarity against Moscow’s authoritarian and imperial rule by people who simply want to have a voice in what happens to them rather than be the objects of Kremlin policies. It is in short, a school for democracy rather than a conspiracy against the territorial integrity of the state.

            That is a message the Region.Expert portal, based in Tallinn and edited by Karelian regionalist Vadim Shteppa, have been delivering for a long time. It is reiterated in a new post today which argues that events in the Urals against the construction of churches and in the Pomor area against Moscow’s trash are “a school of regionalism” (

                Moreover, the portal continues, ever more activists in one region are picking up on what activists in others are doing and voicing their support for each other, thereby creating the Kremlin’s worst nightmare and a possible matrix for a future treaty-based federation or confederation which could arise “on the post-imperial space”  

            In Yekaterinburg, “imperial suppression has taken on clerical forms,” and people from various regions are picking up on that both via the Internet and direct popular participation and bring the lessons of that Urals city back to their own not only in campaigns against churches planned for public parks but also in efforts to advance other popular demands.

            “A similar inter-regional solidarity has arisen in the North as well, between residents of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Komi Republic,” where one Komi deputy has even bluntly asserted tha the two give “enormous sums to the center in the form of taxes but in exchange they are sent Moscow’s trash.”

            What this means, Oleg Mikhaylov says, is that in Russia today, “there are first-class people [in Moscow] and second-class people [everywhere else]. That is a colonial policy.” The portal observes that his words “recall those of American fighters for independence from the British Empire.”

            But the very latest example of “inter-regional solidarity” is even more impressive because it links the trash protests of the North with the demonstrations against overreaching by the Russian Orthodox Church elsewhere, Region.Expert continues.

            Those in the Pomor region fighting against Moscow’s plans to dump the capital’s trash in their homeland have put out a video appeal to the people of Yekaterinburg and the Urals on their own telegram channel, Trash News (

            “We, the residents of Arkhangelsk and participants of an unlimited protest against the building of a trash dump at Shiyes, express our support to the residents of Yekaterinburg. You decisively and firmly are struggling against a building on the square beloved by those who live there.”
            “Such decisions,” the video continues, “are impermissible without the agreement of the people! We completely support the demands of the protesters about putting such construction plans on hold and about conducting public hearings about them. Don’t surrender! THE PEOPLE MUST DECIDE!” 

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