Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What the Collapse of Public Confidence in Russian Government Looks Like in a Chuvash District

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 12 – Pollsters and analysts frequently speak about the collapse in public confidence in Russian government institutions, but neither they nor the media provide a precise description of what this looks like and what its consequences really are.  That makes a report on the Idel-Ural portal especially important.

            Deputies voted against changing the status of a parcel of land near the Chuvash village of Ilbesh.  But because the local population didn’t believe that the deputies were actually doing what they said, the meeting of the local legislative body broke down in fist fights between the deputies and the people (чуваши-синьяльского-сельского-посел/).

            The deputies announced that they were keeping the land for a storage facility to be built by a local company, “but the villages apparently have information that all talk about a storage complex are a fiction” designed by the deputies to hide a plan to transfer the land to Chinese investors for a powdered milk plant, something residents do not want to see happen.

            The Idel-Ural portal says it is difficult to know whether the villages have the indisputable evidence they claim or whether they just don’t believe the deputies who have deceived them in the past and who continue to act in this case in ways which suggest that they are intent on doing so again.

            The residents believe that the supposed Chuvash construction company is only a cover for officials to hide behind, and when representatives of that firm did appear, the residents pelted them with rotten oranges to show what they thought of all their upbeat words. That was enough to prompt the deputies to put off a decision.

            When the legislature finally took a vote, it didn’t register it, promising to post the results on the official website but leading many residents to conclude that the deputies were trying to vote one way to keep the people quiet even though they had made a decision to vote the other way when it counted and reward the Chinese company with the land.

            Local officials told the people that they had best back off or there wouldn’t be any investment or jobs. They said that the Chinese would go elsewhere, but the population responded by saying that no district in the republic wanted the Chinese presence and urged the officials to stop claiming otherwise.

            As a result of all this, the villagers don’t believe anything the officials say; and this “total lack of trust” means that nothing the authorities want to do isn’t questioned. The only way out, the portal says, would be a wholesale replacement of all officials but that isn’t going to happen. And s in ne small part f Russia, trust in the government has completely collapsed.

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