Staunton, March 14 – The dispersal of the Municipal Deputies Forum in Moscow yesterday and the detention of more than 150 participants by the Russian siloviki has sent shock waves through that country’s political opposition, with many, including many far from Moscow, concluding that Russia is at a turning point.
Lev Shlosberg, an opposition deputy from Pskov, offered what may be the most disturbing description of what this action against independent deputies means. He says it is the equivalent of the Bolshevik suppression of the Constituent Assembly, the only freely elected assembly in Russian history, by the Bolsheviks in January 1919.
Like the Putin regime which declared some of the participants in yesterday’s meeting part of “an undesirable organization,” Lenin also called the Constituent Assembly in which his party formed only a minority “undesirable” and proceeded in the wake of that action to introduce a brutal dictatorship (t.me/shlosberg/5399).
Other commentators offer similarly apocalyptic conclusions (7x7-journal.ru/articles/2021/03/13/s-segodnyashnego-dnya-lyubaya-oppozicionnaya-deyatelnost-v-rossii-okonchatelno-priznana-narusheniem-zakonodatelstva-chto-pishut-v-socsetyah-o-massovyh-zaderzhaniyah-politikov-v-moskve, ehorussia.com/new/node/22983, ehorussia.com/new/node/22982 svpressa.ru/politic/article/292500/ and ng.ru/politics/2021-03-14/1_8101_opposition.html).
Whether this event turns out to be a turning point that the January 1918 Bolshevik action was remains to be seen, but one can certainly agree with Nikolay Petrov’s observation that what occurred “is not simply an episode of the tactical struggle of the Kremlin for unqualified domination in the upcoming elections” (vtimes.io/2021/03/14/pochemu-kreml-ispugalsya-narodnih-izbrannikov-a3750).
“The detention of municipal deputies is an answer to the question who, the siloviki or the Presidential Administration is setting the course of events,” the Moscow commentator says. “In fact, there is no dichotomy here: this being done by the siloviki in the Kremlin who in view of the exhaustion of political technology instruments ever more often shifts toward blunt force.”
According to Petrov, “the Kremlin wants to sow fear but itself is afraid most of all of any collective action,” even by municipal deputies from 56 regions of the country. These are representatives of the authorities who operate on the basis of mandates given by the citizens of the country!”
This action beyond any doubt sets the tone for the coming elections to the Duma and in 39 regional assemblies in September. But its suddenness and brutality suggest, he continues, that this move “was not so much a planned tightening of the screws as a reflection of political hysteria” on the part of the powers given rising tensions in the country.
But there is one detail which the Region.Expert portal notes that must be kept in mind (region.expert/mundeps/). Despite the actions of the authorities, some of those who were the victims in this case are still calling for “dialogue” with the Kremlin as if that were possible with this Kremlin in this Moscow (zaks.ru/pda/archive/view/210740).
One wonders, the Tallinn-based portal says, whether any of the municipal deputies would have said the same thing if the meeting had occurred somewhere other than Moscow or whether the police would have acted the same way if they were part of the local communities beyond the ring road.
Those are possibilities that some if not all of the municipal deputies now in detention may explore; and if they do, that will present a more serious challenge to the powers that be than any single meeting in Moscow could.