Staunton, June 1 – When Leonid Vasyukevich and Gennady Shulga, two KPRF deputies in the Primorsky Kray parliament, last week called on Vladimir Putin to end his “special military operation” in Ukraine, some observers felt this might be a sign that popular opposition to the war in Ukraine was about to spread through Russia’s legislative assemblies at least in the regions.
But if there is popular support for such opposition, the so-called systemic parties apparently aren’t prepared to sacrifice any of their privileges as allies of the regime; and now the KPRF deputies in the Primorsky Kray assembly have expelled the two from their caucus (interfax.ru/russia/843994).
They did so in the best Soviet-era traditions of the Communist Party: those who wanted to crack the whip held a meeting to which the victims were not invited, voted unanimously to exclude them from their ranks, and, for good measure, censured two other deputies who knew about the plans of Vasyukevich and Shulga in advance but didn’t report them.
The Putin regime thus blocked such expressions by deputies of popular unhappiness about his war. But this case is important because it shows that at least some deputies are listening to their constituents and would be speaking out if for not the certainty that they would be excluded or otherwise punished for doing do.
And thus what some will now see as
an indication of the absence of opposition to Putin on the war in fact highlights
its existence because the two deputies involved certainly knew in advance what
would happen to them but went ahead anyway, apparently on the assumption that their future in politics would be better served by doing so.