Staunton, Nov. 7 – In September, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed off on plans to develop three new trash dumps in the Russian North, supposedly to hand waste from cities there but in fact, residents of the region suspect, to handle trash from the Russian capital itself.
In Arkhangelsk Oblast, residents are already taking steps to organize resistance to these plans, moves that already resemble the Shiyes protests of several years ago that became “a rallying point for Russian civil society” (takiedela.ru/notes/novyy-shies/ and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/shiyes-rallying-point-for-russian-civil.html).
According to some of the residents, what Moscow is doing now represents an attempt to “take revenge” on northern peoples for their success in opposing the Russian government’s plans to build a trash dump at Shiyes; but if that is Moscow’s intention, it may very well backfire as defense of the environment is a central concern in Northern regions.
No construction at the new sites is likely until warmer weather returns next spring; but if Moscow does go ahead with these plans and there is every reason to think that it will, new Shiyes-type protests are likely not only in the areas immediately affected but in other parts of the north as well.
And as happened in the Komi Republic whose residents resisted construction of the Shiyes site, these nominally apolitical environmental protests are likely to grow into political ones, exacerbating relations between the north and Moscow and leading to the radicalization of populations that the Putin regime has long assumed are going to always remain in its corner.