Monday, March 23, 2020

Pitchforks and Barricades Appear Again at Russian Protests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 18 – Vladimir Putin is not the only one who is bringing back the archaic past. So too are his opponents, with the editor of a Krasnoyarsk news site showing up at an anti-constitutional amendment protest with a pitchfork and workers at a company town in Chelyabinsk throwing up barricades as they seek to defend their livelihoods.

            To demonstrate his anger at what Putin is doing to the constitution so that he can stay in power for life, Dmitry Polushin, the editor of the KrasNews portal of Krasnoyarsk, brought a pitchfork to the latest protest against the amendments. He says this traditional sign of protest reflects the anger most in his region feel (

            The editor-activist says that it is going to be very difficult for Moscow to ensure that 50 percent of the voters turn out on April 22 and that 50 percent vote for the amendments.  And he suggests that the only place in the Siberian Federal District where the powers that be won’t have difficulties in that regard is Tuva, where the authorities have largely destroyed the opposition.

            But elsewhere, people are furious. In Buryatia, for example, Polushin says, residents are calling for the renaming of a street currently bearing the name of Valentina Tereshkova who proposed giving Putin the right to remain in power. They want it to be named for Vyacheslav Makhayev, the only member of the Federation Council to vote against the amendments.

            Meanwhile, displaced workers at a shuttered factory in Verkhny Ufaley in Chelyabinsk Oblast have erected barricades to prevent the plants owner from tearing it down and selling off the parts, leaving them without employment. They took this action on the Day of the French Revolution (

            Under the terms of a plan announced by Putin in 2014, this factory and the company town around it were put on a list of those the Russian government considered it a priority to save. But Moscow has done nothing, and now the plant and the people who worked at it are viewed as disposable.

            The plant’s absentee owner responded as one might expect: he demanded that the police arrest the workers who put up the barricades for trespassing on his property.

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