Staunton, February 10 – Denis Kamalyagin, editor of Pskovskaya Gubernia, a leading independent regional newspaper says that it is important to understand why those in Pskov joined the Navalny protests, what they hoped for, and why there unfortunately are reasons to believe that these protests alone are not going to radically change the situation in Russia.
People in Pskov like people elsewhere in the Russian Federation are angry and they have good reason to be, the editor says. They are angry about the actions of the siloviki, they are angry about the increase in the pension age, and they are angry about a regime “which never recognizes its mistakes but always holds someone else guilty” (region.expert/pskov-protests/).
And, Kamalyagin continues, the people of Pskov and the people of Russia are especially angry about the ongoing efforts of the Putinists to deprive voters of their right to choose their rulers and instead to pass their wealth and positions to their children as if they have the innate right to do so.
“But,” the editor points out, “anger just as in ordinary life rises and falls like steam.” The pressure builds up, people slam their fists, or they take to the streets. And then an emptiness comes. Therefore, protests always rapidly decline into nothing, especially if the government shows you in every possible way that it doesn’t intend to listen to your opinion about itself.”
And because that is so, Kamalyagin says, “it must be recognized that, yes, the critical mass of protest in Russia is growing, but it as before is extremely insignificant in terms of its ability to force the powers that be to listen to it.” In fact, the powers that be by their repression show that is the furthest thing from their minds.
“How did the public in Pskov react to these processes?” he asks rhetorically. “Alas, the absolute majority did not react at all. The current Russian state has carefully uprooted the values of freedom of speech and the values of civil society by making the defense of these values dangerous and risky.”
As a result, Kamalyagin says, “many despite their anger could only throw up their hands: What can we do? And they did so even though Pskov is one of the few cities of Russia where there exists a regional opposition and independent journalists.” For that change, far more people will have to get involved.
“After the protest action in Pskov, at which were detained approximately 60 people in a place where such a thing never happened before, I received a call from one of the senior Pskov officials and heard over the wires his words ‘the people always deserve those who rule them,’” the editor says he heard.
And he then concludes bitterly that that is a sentiment he is compelled to share.