Monday, June 26, 2023

Environmental Activism, a Seedbed for Political Dissent, ‘a Headache for Russia’s Colonial Rulers,’ Sidorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Those who pressed for the independence of the union republics at the end of Soviet times first cut their teeth as it were by taking part in environmental and historical preservation movements, groups that the Soviet authorities were uncertain as to how they should react but that for more than a decade served as seedbeds of the national movements.

            Now environmental activism appears to be playing the same role. And Prague commentator Kharun Sidorov says that in Bashkortostan, it has now reached the point where it has become “a headache for the colonial powers,” one they know is dangerous but are unsure as to how best to respond (

            Clashes between the environmental activists and the authorities over the last several years in that Middle Volga republic, the commentator says, have “clearly demonstrated that eco-activism and environmental protests are more than just a struggle bout the environment … They are a means of mobilizing the indigenous people … and a locomotive for its civic mobilization.”

            The powers that be in Moscow and Ufa can see this and are trapped between a desire to keep everything quiet and fears that the more force they use to achieve that end the greater the possibility becomes that by such actions, the powers will radicalize protesters, speeding the process in which these will change for focusing on the environment to focusing on politics.

            “This is understandable,” Sidorov continues. “The essence of the political superstructure established by the Kremlin in Bashkortostan, including its fictitious opposition component, is to ensure the predatory development of the resources of the federal subject” and to ensure that the population doesn’t get in the way.

            According to Sidorov, “under such conditions, eco-activism is a manifestation, something spontaneous, of the most natural instinct of resistance and mobilization of the ruled.” That has clear negative consequences for those who protest, but it also has serious negative consequences for those still in power.

No comments:

Post a Comment