Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Even in Small Isolated Villages, Russians Oppose Putin’s War

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 17 – Many assume that opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine is concentrated in the major cities because they are the most numerous and get the most attention; and conversely many think that in small and isolated villages, the Russians overwhelmingly support the Kremlin leader.

            But that mental map is fundamentally flawed. On the one hand, many people in major cities are dependent on the state for their incomes and so support the Kremlin lest they put their livelihoods at stake. And on the other, despite lack of coverage, there are many people in the villages who are horrified by what Putin is doing.

            That makes a report by Ivan Fedoseyev of the IdelReal portal especially valuable. It concerns the decision of a local deputy in a village of some 200 people in the backwoods of Perm Kray to resign his position because he did not want in any way to be associated with what he described as the Kremlin’s “criminal” action in Ukraine (idelreal.org/a/31756185.html).

            Local people who preferred him to a United Russia candidate knew what they were getting. They describe him as an opposition figure because he has openly supported Aleksey Navalny but someone they like and trust because for more than 30 years he worked in a local youth correctional facility. And many have expressed understanding and support for his action.

            In 2018, he was let go nominally because of an optimization effort; but in fact, he says, he was fired just short of retirement because of his criticism of local and central politicians. In response, he went into politics; and to the surprise of some, he won. Since then he has continued his critical stance in public.

            Three days ago, he posted the following declaration on VKontakte: In resigning, Fedoseyev said he wanted to stress that I am not against Russia, in no way I am against its people, who for the most part have been misled,” the text said. “I am against the regime that has now been established in the country. Before February 24 [the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine], I did not betray anyone, but after this date, which will be a black stain on the history of Russia, I do not want to go against my conscience. I was brought up on the propaganda of peace and kindness, on friendship between peoples, and I can’t support the current course of the authorities, which did not give a damn about these universal human values and who have unleashed aggression against a sovereign neighboring state, an action which they are forcing us to call a military special operation (vk.com/id611966188?z=photo611966188_457239353%2Fphotos611966188).

               Fedoseyev said that the only reason for his action was the invasion of Ukraine. “When I woke up on the morning of February 24 and found out that the special operation had begun, I immediately sobered up and took for myself the only correct decision … If I had remained in office, then I would have been involved in what I consider a crime.”

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