Friday, June 28, 2019

‘Provincial Russia is Sleeping and Doesn’t Intend to Wake Up,’ Kemerovo Activist Complains

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – Ever more demonstrations and protests are taking place in Russia beyond the ring road around Moscow, but a large share of the oblasts and republics remain quiescent, and Kemerovo activist and blogger Vyachesav Chernov says there are few reasons to think that is going to change.

            In a cri de coeur on his blog that Novyye izvestiya has reposted, the Kemerovo man says that people in the regions are overwhelmed with the problems of survival and do not see that any civic action is going to change anything for them or their children (

                People in his region and others like it, Chernov says, simply do not believe that any actions by themselves will change anything. “The authorities will simply ignore you, the law enforcement organs will kick you around in a circle, and your fellow residents will make fun of you for what you are doing.”

            Even if you are fighting for truth and justice and even if you achieve some success individually, “no one will joint you, no one will write, and no one will telephone and suggest that we should work together. Instead, everything will remain just as it was” Russia’s provinces have not risen to the level of public activity.

            “People in the provinces are occupied with entirely different things,” he says. And “it is easy to understand the lack of demand for truth in the provinces.” After long days at poorly paid work, “there is no desire to listen to reports about trash in Shiyes, the arrest of the unknown Golunov, or watch stories about calls for freeing of political prisoners in Moscow.”

            For such people, it is much more pleasant to watch how “Putin has outplayed everyone, how rockets find their targets in Syria and how in Ukraine they are turning off the gas. The province is sleeping and doesn’t intend to wake up. The Russian provincial is against only one thing: don’t kill me here and now. But gradually you can.”

            Protests take time and money, and activists have to come up with most of it in the provinces. They ask themselves why they should do so given the absence of public response and given that they could live much better if they stopped their social activism and spent the money on themselves and their families.

            Their closest allies may live 160 kilometers away, and so there is little mutual support, Chernov continues.

            But what is especially disturbing, he says, is that a recent visit to Moscow convinces him that people there aren’t that much different and that there aren’t going to be any fundamental changes there let along any peaceful revolution. “Moscow doesn’t provide an example of civic opposition to the ruling mafia and the struggle for civil rights.”

            As a result, he suggests, “we are in a very lousy position. Before our eyes, an enormous country which has inexhaustible potential is dying and being transformed into rot,” a criminal and inhuman result. In this situation, civic activism is “not a light which illumines the darkness.” Rather, it is an effort to save a dying ember in the hopes that eventually something will change.  

No comments:

Post a Comment