Staunton, August 24 – In a display of the way in which a small issue can grow into a larger one and in which disagreements within the power vertical invite demonstrations on both sides of an issue, hundreds of villagers in Tatarstan have taken to the roads to protest the routes under consideration for a new toll road between Moscow and Kazan.
That road is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and be a critical link for truck traffic between central Russia and western China. Moscow officials came up with one route; Kazan officials with another; and local people say that both are bad because they have the route pass through their villages and close to an oil pipeline.
The protests began as a typical NIMBY response by residents to a project over whose planning they had no voice, but they have now escalated, with participants taking to YouTube, a local Orthodox priest backing the protesters and comparing them to Khabarovsk, and the protesters forming a “STOP” sign with their bodies and thus attracting broader attention.
But the issue has now grown because what the villagers are demonstrating about has the potential to delay or even block a road Vladimir Putin has made a central part of his plans for linking China to Russia, and so these local protests are gaining far more attention than would otherwise be the case.
For reports about them and examples of the sophisticated use of social media by the protesters and those who support them, see zona.media/article/2020/08/25/m12, youtube.com/watch?v=jbR9FZDgfco&feature=youtu.be&t=203, instagram.com/p/CD9DRK9DqY3/ and idelreal.org/a/30786772.html.