Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Ethnic Violence Could Break Out in Russian Villages when Ukrainian War Ends, Proshakov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 18 – So many men from Russian villages have gone to fight and die in Ukraine that the women they left behind are marrying or at least having children with Central Asian immigrants who have come to fill their jobs, Andrey Proshakov says, that there is the potential for ethnic clashes when the Russian men return at the end of the war.

            Until Russian men return in large numbers, however, he suggests that there is little likelihood of trouble. People complain about rising prices, which in general area higher than in the cities even though incomes are much lower; but they don’t draw the obvious connection between inflation and the war.

            Moreover, the founder of a telegram channel devoted to rural life who was forced to flee to Armenia and is now writing a book about Russian farmers says that otherwise he sees little prospect for risings in rural Russia. People there have been deceived too often, and their thinking is affected by television propaganda and the big money some of their men are bringing home.

            In an interview with the Not Moscow portal, Proshakov says that he personally thinks the war was “the biggest mistake” of recent times because it is taking attention and money away from Russia’s most pressing domestic problems (nemoskva.net/2023/11/16/andrej-proshakov-posle-nachala-svo-mnogie-fermery-byli-v-ejforii-a-potom-stalo-nekomu-ubirat-urozhaj/).

“In general,” he continues, “the war in the outback is invisible. If you don’t take into account the [rising] prices, the sad, gray faces... People aren’t talking about it or otherwise reacting to it in any way. Instead, they have become more withdrawn and silent. Everything is driven deep.”

But he does point to one important change, that of officials regarding combat deaths. At the start of the conflict, Proshakov says, the leaders of local governments all showed up and gave upbeat speeches. Now, the leaders send only very junior officials and these say very little indeed, lest they attract attention and provoke discussion. 

No one even at the village level knows just how many men have died in Ukraine. The officials try to keep that number under wraps. But anyone who passes by a local cemetery can see that the number is large and rising, the agricultural activist says. 

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