Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Navalny Staff’s Unilateral Decision to Suspend Protests May Cost It Allies in Regions, Sidorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 8 – Many in Russia’s regions and republics who took part in the recent Navalny protests did so not just because they support the Moscow opposition leader but because they have for the last several years developed their own agendas and dominated protest activity in Russia.

            And consequently, at least some of them were surprised or even angered by the unilateral decision of the Navalny staff to suspend protests for several months, a decision it took to protect itself but without consultation with or regard to these allied protesters outside of the capital, Vadim Sidorov says (region.expert/protests/).

            For the last two years in Russia, protest activity has occurred in the regions and republics, like Komi, Ingushetia, Vladikavkaz, Khabarovsk and Bashkortostan, and there have not been significant all-Russian demonstrations. Now, with the Navalny drive, the latter has re-emerged and the former have joined with it.

            This “symbiosis” of all-Russian and regional protests was striking in many places, but it did not occur in all, the Prague-based regionalist says. But it did not occur everywhere, most notably in Ingushetia and Kalmykia where no one responded to Navalny’s call, in part because the Moscow opposition figure has “the reputation of a chauvinist.”

            Elsewhere, however, bridges between the two had begun to be built; but the decision of the Navalny staff to suspend all protests creates a serious obstacle to further development in that direction because it shows that once again, people in Moscow, this time the opposition, think they have the right to decide for everyone without consultation.

            Worse still, Sidorov says, the Navalny staff took this decision in order to protect its ranks from decimation by arrests; but it showed no concern from what is happening to those in the regions who responded to Navalny’s call and who in many cases are suffering far more repression than are those who marched in Moscow.

            All this is yet another sign that the Navalny people aren’t thinking about the regions and republics except as resources for their own Moscow-centric goals, the regionalist writer says, another consequence of the fact that today, the Navalny command incorrectly considers itself “’the only opposition’” in Russia.


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