Saturday, July 25, 2020

Most Russians Beyond the Ring Road Dislike Muscovites Even if They Want to Move to the Capital

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 23 – The Khabarovsk protests have had many consequences, but one of the most important is that they have thrown into high relief a fact that many are reluctant to acknowledge: residents of the Russian Federation outside the ring road really don’t like Muscovites.”

            Khabarovsk residents and specialists on the regions are now speaking about this “openly,” Moskovsky komsomolets journalist Yuliya Kalinina says, adding that such attitutdes are found in “practically all subjects of the Federation” (

            The Moscow journalist says she selected for interviews people in “Russian” regions rather than non-Russian republics so that ethnicity wouldn’t be a factor and chose those most would consider middle class and all of whom were middle aged. A majority were women who, Kalinina says, are more inclined to feel attitudes arising from life experiences than politics.

            That last characteristic is important because she suggests it is important to distinguish between hostility toward federal officials and hostility toward residents of the Russian capital, although she concedes that she wasn’t able to “completely avoid politics” despite her efforts to do so.

            Aleksandra, a St. Petersburg resident who often travels to Moscow, says that her hostility toward Moscow is “an objective anger,” because the center takes all the resources and its residents act as if this is just, something that anyone who lives beyond the ring road can see is far from just.

            Olga from Voronezh agrees: her problems aren’t with people from the capital as such but with the capital’s control of resources from everywhere and with the attitude of many in the center that this is entirely natural and right.  That the regions can’t choose their own leaders but must accept Moscow assignees and orders only makes this worse.

            Mikhail from Kaluga adds that the pandemic has made things worse because people in the regions who could travel to the capital now can’t and so must rely on the inadequate resources, particularly in the medical sector, in their own areas. They feel this intensively because they cannot see any way out.

            Olga from Kaliningrad Oblast says that people where she lives “distinguish Muscovites from ‘Moskaly.’” The former are perfectly normal people who when they come to her region are polite and interested in local history and affairs. The latter are typically officials sent to rule the region who behave as “occupiers.”

            They fulfill without any question all orders from the center, “they spit on local residents,” and they act as if they alone have the right to decide for their subjects, she continues.

            Anastasiya from Sarov points to a particular problem: Educational institutions in Moscow are supposed to be open to all Russians, but in fact, those who do not have a Moscow resident permit can’t enter them. As a result, schools and higher educational institutions in the capital have in fact become only for Muscovites.

            Aleksey from Stavropol says that Moscow now only attracts all the bright young people from the regions but takes so much of the money and resources from the regions that people outside the ring road cannot hope to compete and thus are fated to see their standard of living fall even further. It shouldn’t surprise anyone they don’t like Moscow or Muscovites.

            Valentina from Orenburg says that Muscovites live so much better than Russians elsewhere that the latter can only hate those at the center, especially since this difference in the health care area means that people outside of Moscow die far earlier than do those who live in the capital.

            And Anton from Krasnoyarsk Kray says that his region is rich in natural resources but Moscow takes everything away and then presumes to decide on how everything is done locally.  Krasnoyarsk should be wealthy, but it is becoming ever poorer. Not surprisingly, its residents are angry and angry at Moscow in particular.

            Kalinina says she feels compelled to present these opinions despite the fact that she is from Moscow because the anger behind them is truly enormous, far greater than can be conveyed in print.  And she says that the powers that be should pay attention because, as the Krasnoyarsk protests show, this situation is “obviously unhealthy.” 

            Indeed, it is more than that, it is dangerous to the future of Russia as a whole.

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