Saturday, August 31, 2019

'Single Center' Directed Repression of Moscow Protests, OVD-Info Report Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 30 – "A single center: has been directing the repression of Moscow protests this summer and thus not only bears full responsibility for what has taken place but can decide whether to intensify or ease official actions against protesters, according to a 9600-word study released today by the OVD-Info Group which  tracks political repression.

            While the authors do not say so in so many words, that “center” in the context of Russia today can only be the Kremlin of Vladimir Putin; and their conclusion after an exhaustive examination of the data makes it more difficult for the powers that be to shift responsibility to others (; summarized at

            The report, entitled The Moscow Experiment (in Russian), says that the summer of 2019 has been the most repressive in Russia since at least December 2011, with nearly 2700 protesters having been detained in the period from June 14 to August 31, compared to 3773 for all of 2012 and 3462 for all of 2017.

            The authors document the charges lodged against the protesters, which ranged from “the completely classical” such as using force against representatives of the authorities to innovative ones including interfering with the work of election commissions and failure to be responsible for the raising of minor children.

            In addition to those detained, the report says, there were several hundred more who were interrogated by the siloviki; and they may be subject to indictments of one kind or another in the future.

            The repressive actions were carried out by “practically all the force structures” with regional and federal bodies being involved “simultaneously” from the interior ministry, the Center for Countering Extremis, the Russian Guard, the Investigative Committee, the Procuracy, the FSB, and the military commissariats.

            But it is clear, the report says, that all of them were “to one degree or another” coordinated from “a single center.” 

Shamans Face Off over Putin in Buryatia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 30 – Aleksandr Gabyshev, the Sakha shaman warrior who is on a mission to Moscow to exorcise the evil spirit Vladimir Putin, was blocked at one point in Buryatia this week by other shamans who demanded that he stop calling himself a shaman but then was received with honor and respect on two other occasions by other Buryats.

            Gabyshev began his march toward Moscow on March 6, and on July 12, he assembled a crowd of 700 people in Chita, telling them that he plans to continue his walk until reaching the Russian capital sometime late next year or in early 2021 unless the Russian people rise and exorcise Putin on their own.

            What occurred in Buryatia in  this slow news week has attracted some media attention (, and, but it should come as no surprise.

            There are numerous shamans in Russia, but some of them routinely denounce others as fakes and demand that they stop referring to themselves as shamans either because they do not follow the same traditions, lack a credible origin or differ in their relations with the secular powers. (On this, see

Kalimatov Says Yevkurov Left Ingushetia in Dire Straits Economically

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 30 – Unexpectedly, Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov appeared before Ingush Popular Assembly and declared that his predecessor had left Ingushetia in dire straits (хватит-ли-у-калиматова-духу-чтобы-нача/ and

            But the acting head of the republic who is expected to be easily confirmed as permanent one September 8  focused entirely on economic issues and refused to be drawn into any discussion of the issues agitating most Ingush: the border agreement, the arrest of numerous activists and the restoration of direct popular elections for the chief executive of the republic.

            Kalimatov said his own immediate task was to restore order in the republic and to achieve what Yevkurov and his government promised but did not. Their claims about social and economic successes, Kalimatov continued, were “nothing more than fictions.”  As a result, the republic economy is in truly disastrous shape.

            The republic head devoted particular attention to the republic’s rising state debt – today Moscow reported, Ingushetia saw the highest increase in state debt of any federal subject during the first half of 2019 (

            He promised to root out corruption in order to overcome the situation. Exactly how he plans to do this, Anton Chablin said in his Portal 6 commentary, remains unclear. The North Caucasus specialist said Kalimatov’s failure to talk about the issues agitating Ingush was unfortunate, but his criticism of Yevkurov is welcome.

            What remains to be seen is whether Kalimatov has the strength to go after Yevkurov holdovers within the government, a group that constitutes at least half of all the people there and one that remains in large measure supportive of Yevkurov’s approach, according to Chablin who clearly has his doubts.

            The most important thing this story suggests is that the Kremlin may have gotten rid of Yevkurov less because of the protests his land deal with Chechnya provoked than his economic failures, something the powers that be in Moscow care far more about than about demonstrations and their suppression.