Vladimir Putin and his entourage are fiercely engaged in a once and for all attempt to monopolise effective political power and propaganda in Russia into the indefinite future; something that only Stalin succeeded in doing, spilling rivers of blood to achieve and sustain it. As in contemporary Africa, Putin is also aiming at life long office. But Russians do not see themselves as submissive Africans with no real experience of democratic institutions. They, rightly or wrongly, see themselves as part of the main, a part of Europe, and not just in terms of geography.
To most in the West and even within Russia Khabarovsk is an obscure city somewhere in the east of Siberia. It was doubtless the Kremlin’s complacent assumption that in arresting and imprisoning the regional governor Sergei Furgal, there might be a minor footnote in the press but the event would have no serious adverse consequences for the Moscow-centred régime. Siberians are, however, and always have been an independent minded people: descendants of prisoners, descendants of intrepid explorers, “the other” in both Tsarist and Soviet times. And, as for ruling Muscovites, in politics the law of unintended consequences will always trip up governments that look no further than the end of their noses.
On 18 July a mass demonstration of 50,000 people in a population of 600,000 appeared on the streets to protest the arrest. Moreover the unrest in Khabarovsk finds sympathetic echoes elsewhere, even in rival city Vladivostok. Rather like the mainstream media in the United States, particularly CNN, NBC and CBS, in blind loyalty to the Democrats, that fail to cover the 40 day continuous rioting in Portland, Oregon, as anarchistic violence and ignore the slaughter of black on black violence in the major cities run by Democrats, Russian television tries to close our eyes to what is going on in Khabarovsk because it does not fit its playbook. But once people have seen what is happening on Youtube they can rightly ask, as they do in the United States, what point there is in owning let alone watching a television.
Coverage in Novaya gazeta appears under the title: “The people have won over the propaganda”.
Народ победил пропаганду
Десятки тысяч граждан на улицах Хабаровска заставили телевизор замолчать