Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Despotism More All-Embracing in Provinces than in Moscow, Galeyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 21 – The powers that be in Russian regions are generally more “despotic” than those in Moscow not only with regard to political rights, something that has often been pointed out, but also concerning any activity out of the ordinary, according to Kamil Galeyev,

            The Tatar commentator reminds that “Voltaire characterized the Ottoman Empire as a despotism in the capital with badly organized republics in the provinces,” but the situation in Russia today, he argues, is “exactly the opposite,” with it having “despotism in the provinces and a badly organized republic in the capital” (

            “Any provincial activist or businessman,” he continues, “can confirm that residents of Moscow enjoy an order more freedom, political, civic and economic, than do residents of the regions.”  The reasons for that are two-fold: Moscow has sucked up many of the best from the regions, and the capital is too large for officials to intervene as they can in smaller places.

            This creates “a vicious circle,” in which Moscow “pulls out of the provinces everything living” and those in power in the provinces complete the process by cracking down on efforts that would pass largely unmolested in the capital, leading even more people to flee from them to it.

            Galyev gives two examples to make his point.  In Karachayevo-Cherkessia, officials forced the closing of a non-political school for children simply because, in the words of its creator Bella Shakhmirza, she wouldn’t give bribes to them and they had no better way to fill their days and show that they are in charge.

            And in Tatarstan, officials forced our Tabris Yarullina as head of the World Forum of Tatar Youth and member of the World Congress of Tatars apparently because they viewed him as a threat because of his youth and popularity with the population – and possibly because of orders from Moscow as well.

            Regional siloviki like their Moscow counterparts “think that by mechanically destroying anything that rises above mediocrity, they will hold out longer.  True, this will eventually lead to the full degeneration of society, but our leaders do not think in the long term.” The big difference between Moscow and the provinces is that siloviki in the latter have more opportunities

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