Staunton, June 28 – Before the pandemic, protests against Moscow’s plans to dispose of trash from the capital and other major cities in far away regions spread across the country and especially in the Far North where Moscow was forced to modify its plans or even back down entirely (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/06/trash-protests-spread-as-regions-arent.html).
The center clearly calculated that it would withstand protests from the megalopolises far better than it could from the suburbs. But protests around Shiyes in the North in particular prompted it to shift responsibility for trash disposal from itself to the federal subjects, something that means cities can no longer hope to send their trash far away to other regions or republics.
As a result, major cities like St. Petersburg are now making plans to establish dumps and other trash disposal facilities nearby rather than far away; and to no one’s surprise, the residents of these cities are furious and beginning to organize protests and petition drives to try to block such actions.
The first of these have already taken place at several sites near the northern capital (newizv.ru/article/general/29-06-2022/peterburg-berut-v-musornoe-koltso-zhiteli-sobirayut-mitingi), and officials are scrambling to try to figure out how to respond, now permitting and then banning demonstrations.
If the protests in St. Petersburg’s neighborhood follow the pattern of those in the North, the authorities will try to avoid any violent crackdown and the protesters seeing that will continue to test the limits. But because the new demonstrations are taking place near cities, they will receive both more energy from opposition groups and more attention from the media.
As a result, what may appear to be a small problem now is likely to grow and force the authorities either to take draconian measures or again put off plans to build these facilities. And adding to Moscow’s dilemma is this: much of the trash shorting and processing equipment it needs to handle more trash more efficiently is under sanctions and can’t be replicated.
That will force Russian officials to use more primitive and more environmentally harmful methods than would otherwise be the case, thereby further elevating popular anger and making the likelihood of major protests in the next month or so far more likely than even the wave that swept across the country in 2019.
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