Staunton, April 6 – Many Russians beyond the ring road are furious at the benefits Muscovites are getting and at the unfunded liabilities which Vladimir Putin has laid on the federal subjects, making them responsible for dealing with problems for which they have no money. But just how angry is only now beginning to surface.
Yesterday, Vadim Shumkov, the governor of Kurgan Oblast, said that the reaction of some of the residents of his federal subject to reports that an individual infected with the coronavirus had arrived there from Moscow was both inappropriate and unfortunate (ura.news/news/1052425760).
He reminded the readers of his official Instagram account that “the coronavirus exists not only in Moscow but in other big cities where a quarter of the residents of the Trans-Ural region work” and said that “the readiness [of some] to kill and burn at the stake these people does not flatter us.”
Not surprisingly, such calls drew criticism from Moscow (ura.news/news/1052425944), but Shumkov’s attempt to calm Kurgan residents drew so many attacks from residents that he took the unusual step of shutting down his site in order to prevent even more outrageous ideas from being proposed and circulated (ura.news/news/1052425913).
Darya Kislitsyn, who works on regional issues at the Moscow Instit6ue for Social Research which often serves as a Kremlin advisor, says that Kurgan residents are hardly alone in their anger, noting that in Ivanovo Oblast, people are demanding the imposition of rules that would ban anyone from renting an apartment to Muscovites (ura.news/articles/1036280003).
She says that such attitudes, which arise because Russia today in fact has not one but “85 anti-crisis strategies” (one for each of the federal subjects, including occupied Crimea and Sevastopol) and that this puts the regional heads in an extremely responsible position where they must ensure that the population gets good information and avoids falling victim to rumors.
“On the one hand,” Kislitsyn continues, “the president has said that adequate measures must be introduced but not in violation of the lives of other regions. But on the other, any governor has the desire to defend the interests of the population of his region and guarantee security in the first instance of his own people.”
Maintaining that balance is not easy, she concedes, and it may affect how people view things as the elections approach.