Viewed from Regions, Moscow Opposition Very Much Like Regime It Says It Opposes

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Sept. 7, 2019)

Moscow opposition groups regularly give lip service to the idea of federalism, but when push comes to shove, they take positions so similar to the powers that be that people in the regions beyond the ring road find it difficult if not impossible to tell them apart, the Region.Expert portal says.

he case of Sergey Mitrokhin, a Yabloko candidate for the Moscow city council, provides clear evidence for that, the portal continues. “Despite sharp political conflict of recent months, it suddenly turns out that he works” for all, both opposition and the Russian authorities (

“The authorities who have blocked a multitude of opposition figures from running allowed him to be a candidate for the elections, and at the same time, Aleksey Navalny recommended him on his life for ‘intelligent voting.’ A surprising degree of agreement,” it would seem, Region.Expert continues.

But it is not surprising at all if one looks at Mitrokhin’s platform. He says Moscow has every right to send its trash to “underpopulated regions” of the rest of the country, including of course Karelia, the republic from which Emiliya Slabunova, the head of the Yabloko Party, comes.

Yabloko makes the usual obeisance to “‘the rebirth of federalism'” when it is making general declarations. But when it comes to real cases, its leaders, including Mitrokhin, act as if Moscow is entitled to send its trash to the regions without their consent even as it takes resources from them, again without consent, to make itself in his words, “‘the richest city of Russia.'”

Mitrokhin doesn’t trouble to ask himself why Moscow is rich and why the regions are depopulating, Region.Expert continues. Instead, “he boldly shows his profoundly imperial way of thinking,” concerned about taking care of the imperial center even at the cost of stealing from the regions and giving them trash in return.

No wonder he is acceptable to the powers that be in Moscow, the portal concludes; but it then asks rhetorically, “how is such an opposition to be distinguished from the authorities?” From the point of view of the regions, these two groups don’t appear as fundamentally different as they often are assumed to be.

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