Staunton, January 9 – For the 183rd day in a row, people in Khabarovsk came out to demand that Moscow recognize their right to elect their own governor and restore Dmitry Furgal to that position. They were joined in that demand by residents of Vladivostok, Barnaul, and Novosibirsk.
In all cases, the authorities refused to give people the right to assemble citing the danger of the spread of the coronavirus and state media ignored their actions, forcing demonstrators to turn to the Internet and especially to YouTube (sibreal.org/a/31039573.html and ehorussia.com/new/node/22508).
YouTube coverage of the Khabarovsk march was especially extensive. The independent RusNew agency posted a clip lasting more than two and a half hours about the demonstration there. It shows police watching but not interfering with those taking part and included statements by march leaders.
Because these events are taking place so far from Moscow and because Moscow is doing what it can to prevent them from being covered, many may assume that they are irrelevant. But these marches highlight the growing unrest in Russia east of the Urals and likely inspire some West of that mountain range to eventually follow suit.
Even if that does not happen anytime soon, these first significant demonstrations of the new year show that predominantly ethnic Russian regions are becoming restive, something that the powers that be in Moscow are far less capable of dealing with than protests in the non-Russian republics because they cannot rely on Russians to support the repression of Russians.
And for that reason if no other, protests in Russian regions merit far more attention than they have generally received even if Moscow is making that ever more difficult because of its fears about the ways in which such attention to these Siberian cities will affect the judgment of people elsewhere and abroad about just how stable Putin’s Russia really is.