Staunton, June 20 – Commenting on the Kremlin’s decision to name an LDPR deputy to be head of Krasnoyarsk in hopes of calming protests there, Aleksey Navalny says that this action shows that “all of Russia has been transformed into a plantation for rich Moscow oligarchs” who get their wealth from the regions but don’t want the latter to be able to choose their leaders.
The opposition figure, who has been criticized by regionalists for his failure to look beyond Moscow but who is also seen as someone who knows which way the winds are blowing, made that statement on his Instagram account, one likely to be overshadowed by his shuttering of his anti-corruption foundation (instagram.com/p/CC3QrhcpzkR/ region.expert/navalny-comment/).
But the opposition leader’s new focus on the regions in this case and especially on the ways in which Moscow is ignoring their interests and rights and exploiting them may signal a pivot in his activities and be both a product of the Khabarovsk protests and a path forward in Russian politics in which the regions will matter more in Moscow politics.
Navalny says that it is hard to take seriously Putin’s decision to appoint Mikhail Degtyaryov as Khabarovsk governor. “Misha Degyarov was my competitor in the Moscow mayoral elections and received only 2.8 percent of the vote,” Navalny recalls. Worse, Degtyarov knows Khabarovsk “only from television.”
People in that Far Eastern city “are going into the streets precisely because Moscow has seized and – without any evidence – carried off to prison a local man whom they all knew and trusted. He was a Khabarovsk man.” Now they are going to sit still for “a Muscovite governor?” That seems unlikely.
By such actions, Navalny continues, “all Russia has been transformed into an appendage and plantation for rich Muscovite oligarchs. They take the taxes, They take the earnings from the sale of natural resources. And now, they are preventing local people from choosing their local authorities.”
That may seem a quick fix, but it is only a temporary one – and not just in Khabarovsk.
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