Staunton, May 23 – Thirty-five of the 45 members of the working group that recommended the amalgamation of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Nenets Autonomous District in fact opposed the idea and either resigned or were excluded by a closed “loyalist” group that was prepared to do what the center ordered.
That pocket group voted as required, but this ham-handed approach has further outraged people in the Nenets AD and elsewhere who see that even before any merger occurs, their views are being ignored and their elected deputies excluded from having a say. As a result, they will vote against the merger – and others may follow them in other referenda as well.
According to Kirill Frolov, an LDPR deputy who resigned, “when the powers saw that the members were inclined negatively to this idea,” they chose to form a loyalist clique and simply didn’t inform the others of meetings so that they could push through the call for a merger (znak.com/2020-05-23/v_nao_protestuyut_protiv_obedineniya_s_arhangelskoy_oblastyu).
But the opposition among deputies did not end there. The day after the announcement, the head of the Nenets AD Yury Bezdudny assembled those deputies from his federal subject who opposed the idea and tried to talk them around. Nine of the 11 present again said they were opposed to the idea of a merger.
And so Moscow sent in the heavy artillery: Andrey Turchak, the secretary of the United Russia leadership and Duma deputy speaker flew to Naryan-Mar to tell them what they had to do. They still refused to back down, but when he went back to Moscow, he posted on the party web page that they now were all in support of amalgamation.
The United Russia deputies are not the only ones in the Nenets AD opposed to the merger, and they too are speaking out despite all the pressure from above (znak.com/2020-05-22/vlast_stolknulas_s_neozhidannym_protestom_zhiteley_nao_oni_ne_hotyat_obedinyatsya_s_arhangelskoy_obl
“In the current situation,” the movement says, “we call upon Russian opposition parties, movements and human rights groups to publicly condemn the persecution of activists of indigenous peopes and protest against attempts to liquidate national autonomies! Make clear your position! … You are either with the hangmen or with their victims.”
“Silence will be viewed as a display of solidarity with the chauvinist policy of the Kremlin. Show that you do not intend to come to terms with the criminal actions of the regime against its own citizens, independent of their nationality and political convictions,” the Free Idel-Ural declaration says.