Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Across Russia, Putin Closing Independent Cultural Centers Because Many Oppose His War

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 27 – In city after city, Putin and his regime are closing independent cultural centers or neutering their activities and forcing those who had sed them as a public space for discussions of all issues to retreat to their homes or emigrate. They are taking such actions to block them from criticizing the Kremlin and its war, the 7x7 news agency says.

            The authorities from the center are often doing this over the objections of local officials who see these places as useful to their communities, providing opportunities for local artists to display their works and people to discuss issues of concern to them, the agency, which focuses on developments outside of Moscow says (semnasem.org/articles/2022/05/27/obshestvennye-prostranstva-v-raskolotom-obshestve).

            The favored tactic is to label these groups foreign agents and thus prevent them from earning any money that they could use to challenge that action in court. In response, many have closed and their leaders have emigrated. But some have tried to survive by changing their programming so as to support their visitors in what they say are “these difficult times.”

            Local activists who were behind the creation and operation of these centers are urging people to organize their own “social spaces” in their homes, but the Moscow-sponsored drive appears to have frightened many. In short, what is happening is this: Moscow is using the war to crush any flourishing of civil society        first far from the center and then working inward.

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