Saturday, July 20, 2019

Opposition in Moscow Not Distinctly Muscovite and That is Its Problem, Region.Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 16 – Unlike most opposition movements elsewhere in the Russian Federation, the Moscow opposition is not distinctly Muscovite, the Region.Expert portal says, because most people in the city identify not as residents of a particular city but rather as residents of the capital of a country.

            The slogans, symbols and agenda of this opposition thus does not reflect the specific concerns of the city of Moscow but rather the slogans, symbols and agenda of the country as a whole, the result of the massive influx of people from elsewhere who have overwhelmed the indigenous Muscovite population (

            These indigenes, those whose families have been in Moscow for four or five generations or more, do have a regional identity; and they display both interest and sympathy toward regionalists from other cities in the country.  But they are a tiny minority, and the overwhelming majority, including of the opposition, identify not as Muscovites but as residents of the capital. 

            As a result, the portal continues, “in present-day Moscow, the border between ‘urban’ and ‘federal’ has been erased. Moscow politicians thus consider themselves ‘federal,’ although no one elected them to that status, while the genuinely Muscovite urban consciousness does not find a clear political embodiment.”

            Despite what many think, this isn’t true of the city just because it is large. Many megalopolises around the world have very distinct city identities. New Yorkers identify with their city, even though many of them are from elsewhere, in large measure precisely because they are not the national political capital.

            The Moscow opposition reflects this pattern. “The ‘federal’ agenda dominates its actions. The slogans are absolutely correct,” of course, “about the struggle with corruption and the dictatorship” but if one looks closely, “there is practically nothing” unique to the city as such, Region.Expert says. 

            “There is also no original and popular city symbolism,” it continues. At the protest meetings of the opposition, the same flag is in evidence that is on the uniforms of the police who suppress these actions.  The opposition shouts “’Russia will be free!’” but “perhaps,” the portal asks, “you should make your Moscow free first?”

            But at present, “even opposition Moscow continues to consider itself ‘the capital of the empire.’” And that has the effect of preventing it from considering what are the chief issues of the city itself, its complete dependence on wealth from elsewhere and the view of many Moscow residents that they have the right to that and to send their trash back to the regions.

            Such attitudes are “the direct result of the imperial policy of total hyper-centralism in the capital.  But how this problem is to be solved, the Moscow opposition doesn’t say because here is a vicious circle.” Moscow can escape from this trap only by giving up much of its income extracted from the regions.

            And few politicians are going to be successful if that is their program.  

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