Friday, June 30, 2023

‘Moscow Will Burn and We’ll Throw On More Matches’ – Russians in the North React to Prigozhin Mutiny

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 29 – The Prigozhin mutiny echoed throughout the Russian Federation but its impact varied widely. In some places, officials cancelled planned celebrations; but in others, they staged them as if nothing much was happening in Moscow. The Barents Observer has collected the reactions of five residents of the North to this situation.

·       Natalya from Arkhangelsk Oblast said that no one talked about the events at the center. “When I brought up the topic, it was as if I had been at the dacha and missed the revolution. When I asked about that, people responded “What revolution?” (

·       An educational worker in Petrozavodsk speaking anonymously, said that there was interest, shock but most of all fear. “People are afraid about the future for themselves. It isn’t that they take sides: they are just confused. No one talked about leaving: those who wanted to do that already have.”

·       An office worker from Petrozavodsk also speaking anonymously, said that people have already drawn conclusions because “everyone understands what kind of a mess we are in. People are imprisoned for reposting but released if they rebel? … Putin’s authority has collapsed. We are a very big country. If something happens in the south, Karelians say ‘we don’t give a damn: Moscow can burn down and we’ll throw on more matches. People talked about the mutiny like a football match and made bets.”

·       A Petrozavodsk media worker says that the situation is surreal, with the Internet talking about what is happening to the country and the regional authorities going ahead with planned celebrations.

·       A law enforcement officer in the North said “many were wondering how it would end … There was no outrage and there was no fear or panic either. Everyone was confused and perplexed … I don’t even know how I would have felt had Prigozhin become the new president. I would have acted according to the situation. We work here in the provinces and almost nothing depends on us. After the events of the last two years, there isn’t anything people are surprised about. No one really believed something would change; everyone thought it would end in exactly nothing – exactly as it did.

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