Staunton, June 6 – Over the last month, Moscow television pundit Vladimir Solovyev has attacked the city of Yekaterinburg 16 times, that is, almost every other day, according to the 66.ru Urals portal. This suggests that his earlier attacks on the city were not some onetime thing but rather reflect fears in Moscow of the continuing strength of Urals regionalism.
When Solovyev first attacked Yekaterinburg a month ago, his action seemed like the latest in what has been a long string of efforts at raising a scandal to attract attention to himself more than to this target (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/05/solovyevs-diatribe-unites-urals-against.html).
But by repeating his attacks so often (https://66.ru/news/entertainment/252395), one is compelled to conclude, regionalist writer Dmitry Sarutov says, that Solovyev is reflecting the views of more than himself alone that independent-minded views among the people of the Urals are a serious problem for Moscow (region.expert/msk-vs-ural/).
Moscow officials are well-aware that the Sverdlovsk Oblast of which Yekaterinburg is the capital was the only Russian oblast to vote against the preservation of the USSR in early 1991 and the only Russian region to declare itself a republic. The center doesn’t want a repeat of either.
It has good reason for such fears, Sarutov suggests. On the one hand, people in the Urals have repeatedly demonstrated that unlike some other predominantly Russian regions, they are not willing to bow down in silence to anything Moscow wants but are quite prepared to protest be it about healthcare or the war in Ukraine.
And on the other, Solovyev and company clearly are worried that if Yekaterinburg gets away with such expressions of anger at the center, other Russian regions are ready to follow suit, creating a condition in which it may very well be the case that these regions even more than the non-Russian republics will threaten Moscow’s control.
But by continuing his attacks on Yekaterinburg, Solovyev is likely promoting an outcome exactly the reverse he seeks, simultaneously leading Urals residents to continue their independent course and, because his words have not yet entailed any real punishments, causing other regions to follow suit.