Interior Ministry officers detain a participant of an opposition protest, calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin not to run for another presidential term next year, in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov
While the world watches Moscow for signs of unrest, hundreds of small-scale protests are heating up in Putin’s heartland.
UKOVO, Russia – Each morning, just before 11 a.m., Igor Litvinov leaves his work gutting chickens and sets off for the main square in this town of about 65,000 people in southern Russia. There he meets his wife, Irina, and together they join the group that has gathered every day for the past year on the cracked gray asphalt in front of the offices of Kingcoal Ltd., their former employer.
On a good day, when there’s no frost and the sun is bright, around 200 people protest; on colder days, like when I visited in early April, there are around 60. The mining company went bankrupt and closed two years ago, leaving 2,300 people in the Rostov region without a job. Even worse: The company stopped paying its workers in 2013, two years before the bankruptcy. The protesters are demonstrating for their back pay.
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WNU Editor: The Western media focuses on the protests that are happening in the big cities like Moscow .... Russians, in peaceful protest, call for Putin to quit (Reuters) .... but it is in the outside regions (and also Putin's political base) where protests are starting to spread. Will these protests continue and will it hurt President Putin's re-election chances for next year .... I do not know. The problem in Russia is that the opposition are either the Communists (who are no longer real communists but a version of a traditional European socialist party .... and whose support in Russia is stuck at 20%) .... or a whole slew of other opposition candidates and parties who are too fractured to work together. But for now the protests are happening, and it is the economic issues (not security issues) that is the dominant reason why people are hitting the streets.
Update #1: A little history .... the above Foreign Policy article is focused on the protests that are growing in the Rostov region. It is here and in eastern Ukraine (where the civil war is now being fought) that the first protests (mainly miners) against the Communist Party in the 1980s started that eventually cascaded and led to the downfall of the Soviet Union.
Update #2: One more side note .... the above Foreign Policy article talks about the problems that many Russians are having with personal debt. For those who may not know .... over the years I am sometimes a guest on a Moscow based talk radio program where I discuss east-west issues and economics. My friend and radio host tells me that when we talk about debt .... that is when his call-in board always lights up.