Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Fight Against Moscow Trash Unites North, Overcoming Ethnic and Political Divides

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 3 – The massive protests in Shiyes on the border of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Komi Republic and in the two regional capitals were not only far larger than most in Moscow – 7,000 demonstrators took part (syktyvkar.1istochnik.ru/news/67806) – but also showed that regional protests have overcome left-right political divisions and ethnic ones as well.

            As a result, they represent a potentially more important development in Russian society than even the more prominently covered protests in Yekaterinburg: the maturation of Russians and their new-found ability to focus on specific issues with far less regard to the divisions Moscow has exploited in the past to keep them from uniting.

            The Region.Expert portal took the lead in pointing out that the protests had united the residents of both federal subjects and overcome the traditional divisions between right and left on the political spectrum, although it did note that in Komi, people carried the opposition national flag while in Arkhangelsk they didn’t (region.expert/more_than_moscow/).

            Meanwhile, Russian journalist Pavel Pryanikov argued on Facebook that the protests in the north, a response to “Moscow colonialism,” reflect a new maturity on the part of Russian citizens, a recognition by them that private property is an essential value, and that everything need to be paid for at some point (facebook.com/ppryanikov/posts/2457009441010767 reposted at newizv.ru/article/general/03-06-2019/pavel-pryanikov-russkiy-narod-umneet-v-shiese).

            “The situation in Shiyes is a model example of Moscow colonialism,” he writes. Moscow officials presume to tell the people there what to do but are totally unwilling to listen to what the people there or elsewhere want.  But more than that, the protests against what Moscow wants in this case, show “how our people has become more intelligent.”

            “First of all, people have understood what private property is. Now, they well understand what is their own land, their small Motherland. And very quickly will occur not only the humanization of Russia but also our society ill acquire the basic features of the construction of a civic nation,” something Europe did two to four centuries ago.

            “It is a very good thing that beyond the borders of the Muscovite metropolis, people have gained the sense of their own land, a place which only they and not some ‘uncles from Moscow’ have the right to decide about.” But even more, they have shown that they understand that everything has to be paid for.

            In this protest, Russians have changed the question they are asking from “WHERE IS THE MONEY?” to “HOW IS ALL THIS GOING TO BE PAID FOR?”  According to Pryanikov, the people are gradually coming to understand that everything has to be,” regardless of whether it is the occupation of Crimea, militarization, or trash.

            The protesters in the North are saying: “You demand that we tighten our belts, but we demand that these trash barons tighten theirs” because “EVERYTHING MUST BE PAID FOR.” And this new civic nation, the commentator continues, “will only grow in size” and challenge the Muscovites ever more often.

            The demonstrators in the North certainly plan to continue. At the meetings yesterday, they pledged that if their demands for the stopping of work on dumps for Moscow trash are not met by June 16, they will resume their protests – and this time, they will continue them without let up until their demands are met (ehorussia.com/new/node/18602).

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