Saturday, April 18, 2020

Moscow City’s Approach to Pandemic Seen Radicalizing Both Authorities and Population

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 16 – Some Russian commentators say the approach the authorities have adopted in the Russian capital to combat the pandemic is radicalizing the population, which has been infuriated by the clumsy and often counterproductive measures the powers that be have adopted, and the authorities who view increased repression as the only appropriate response.

            Three articles posted in the last 24 hours are indicative of this trend.  The SerpomPo telegram channel says the actions of the authorities which forced Muscovites to wait in long lines at the metro and on highways entering the city and thus expose themselves to infection should have led to apologies and dismissals (

            But that didn’t happen, SerpomPo continues. No one apologized and no one was fired.  Instead, the powers showed that for them, “the Russian people are trash.” And Putin’s press secretary even condemned Muscovites for failing to show “the necessary discipline,” thus implying that the people not the powers are to blame.

            But the problem in the authorities is not just at the top but at those who carry out their orders. Didn’t these executors of the decisions from above recognize almost immediately that what they had been asked to do would lead to “the total zeroing out of the quarantine for several days?” and then ask “why experiment in this way on people?”

            Instead, in these locations and others, the police – and SerpomPo uses the politically loaded Nazi word for them – harassed and even beat people not just in these two lines but around the city, showing their total contempt for the population and for the law and inspiring total contempt in return.

            “In essence,” the telegram channel continues, the attacks on people now are a continuation of the attacks on protesters last summer. “Only now, they will beat not only ‘politicals’ but everyone. Anyone who goes for bread or walks his dog or goes to work without receiving the bureaucrats’ permission.”

            “Under the club are falling even those who voted for Putin. The intensification of the pass regime is ahead.”  In this situation, SerpomPo says, “it is naïve to hope that after epidemic, ‘everything will be put right.’  As the last 20 years show, Putin uses any crisis as the occasion for reducing the rights and freedoms of the people.”

            “Everything will be in its place,” it concludes. “The process of ‘the crystallization’ of the regime has never been closer to its logical end. The coronavirus has become only its catalyzer.”

            Yezhednevny zhurnal commentator Igor Yakovenko also sees the situation as becoming explosive. He refers to the situation as the explosion of “the virus bomb,” with a state of war having arisen between the powers that be, on the one hand, and the Russian people, on the other (

            He argues that “the Russian population is now conducting defensive battles on two fronts: against the coronavirus and against the powers that be. And the occupation administrations of the Kremlin and Tver 13 [where the mayor’s office is] are already acting according to the laws of military times.”

            “They are not giving the enemy, that is, the population of Russia, the slightest breathing space.”

            And in the third, Sergey Kopylov of the Forum-MSK portal argues that this situation is rapidly leading Muscovites to shift “from ‘self-isolation’ and revolts toward a revolution,” hyperbolic words to be sure but reflecting just how deep and broad the division between the people and the powers in Moscow have become (

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