Distrust and protest
In the last days of last year, one of the most popular topics for discussion was the report of the expert group under the leadership of Mikhail Dmitriev about the “fall transition” in the minds of Russians. The authors of the report tried to analyze the context and consequences of the decline of confidence in government, which politicians and sociologists have been saying for most of the year.
Case study in October 2018 with focus groups in several regions held by a group of sociologist and economist Mikhail Dmitriev, psychologists Anastasia Nikolskaya and Elena Cherepanova and economist Sergei Belanovsky. The group reviewed the needs of the Russians and came to the conclusion that the population is more in need of “honesty, respect and equality of all before the law” rather than in material values. This is stated in the final report, the “Autumn crisis in the consciousness of Russians: a fleeting spike or a new trend.”
Meanwhile, it seems to me that the specifics of modern Russia is in the fact that “distrust” and “protest” phenomenon is almost disjoint and weakly related to each other.
The most important reasons for the decline of confidence in the authorities recently acted on three factors: pension reform, carried out rapidly in mid-summer; autumn-winter election, which the Kremlin spin doctors did everything in their power to push through unpopular candidates; and numerous cases of grossly negligent attitude of officials to people who in recent months began to emerge and be discussed almost daily.
Of course, the backdrop for all these developments was the gradual deterioration in the living conditions of ordinary Russians by the end of the year began to grow faster rates; the authorities announced the increase of the number of existing taxes and the introduction of several new ones; the end of the year was full of pessimistic forecasts, due to a decline in oil prices, trade wars and the rapid deterioration of global economic conditions.
Meanwhile, virtually none of these events was not cause not only conflict, but also significant protests. Their almost was not in connection with the pension reform; concerted action against the rise in gasoline prices sometimes do not come to any one participant; the results of the obviously rigged elections in the same Primorsky Krai also did not cause any of the shares of disagreement. All this, in my opinion, needs understanding.
During the year, made themselves felt very different “pain points”, which encouraged people to go outside, hard to oppose the regime and to start a serious campaign in the press, which forced the officials to retreat.
The biggest conflict of the population and the authorities in 2018 was the conflict, which can be described as generated by the habitat degradation. Launched back in the spring with the problems of the suburban landfill, it has become almost nationwide. The suburbs flourished in connection with the unresolved “junk” problem; denote attempts to export waste to neighbouring and even more distant regions of the stirred areas from Vladimir to Arkhangelsk, where the wave of protest was held the largest in this city rally after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Vladivostok residents are increasingly opposed to coal “Terminal Astafiev”, due to overloading of coal in which the coal slurry are almost always located in urban air; in Krasnoyarsk has resumed protests against the activities located within the city limits of the Krasnoyarsk aluminum plant, due to emissions which the atmosphere is particularly high cancer incidence (over the past four years, the number of cases of different types of cancer in Krasnoyarsk grew by more than a quarter). The examples can continue.
The government does not make concessions: the head of the Serpukhov municipal district Alexander Shestun, who tried to join the protests, were almost immediately arrested and sent to jail — and then the dump, which he temporarily managed to close again launched. However, there is no doubt that with the advent of spring “junk” topic will be almost a major in Russian regional politics.
Not less than significant conflict potential has a traditional violation of the real or imaginary rights of ownership of citizens in connection with various construction projects. Last year was actively discussed the theme of the Moscow renovation — up to mass rallies that Moscow was the largest since the protests of 2011-2012. This autumn there was a conflict in Kuntsevo, in which citizens homes, it is expected to resettle several days to let the early works, although in this case the developer had all the necessary documents.
In many regions of the country serious conflicts arise around unauthorised constructions, which local authorities were going to demolish, and also in connection with KADASTROVAJA land. The theme of “deceived investors”, “lit up” at a recent press conference President Vladimir Putin — and so that was soon followed by the resignation of the Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Igor Albin.
Anywhere else, the protests are not led, we repeat, a significant change in the authorities of his position and so you can be sure that we will see a new confrontation in the coming year, and probably those in which local officials will have to make concessions.
It is also worth noting that a major factor in irritating the population, become quite specific manifestations of social injustice, “the times” on corruption. Here it is sufficient to draw attention to the case of sending it to Turkey for the children of government officials and security forces from the city of Klintsy, Bryansk region. The result is ten days of the scandal, which involved significant part of the Russian independent press, the mayor has personally reimbursed the amount spent on the trip.
It is significant that no less (but rather more) discussed a case of flagrant squandering of budgetary funds for non-competitive procurement “Asgardia” food from a single supplier over the fact that the leadership of the Ministry made with the same meat-packing plant contract for another two years. In other words, in the cases where people saw go “left” at them from under the nose of the money that could benefit their family and friends, the protest potential is much greater than in the case of them not directly related to stealing hundreds of times more significant amounts.
The origin of the local enterprises
What conclusions can be drawn from the fact that we all watched last year? In my opinion, they are quite obvious. In Russia are extremely small chances for the development of a powerful protest movements in connection with the reins, one way or another affect all or most citizens. The expected increase in the tax on diesel fuel by 4.7% caused in France almost a revolution, the increase of VAT in Russia 11% (VAT from 1 January, increased by 2 percentage points — from 18% to 20%, in percentage terms, this is equal to 11.1 percent of “OM”) is not excited almost no one.
The same applies to retirement age, and more. However, once rights are infringed by a relatively narrow groups of their representatives ready to mobilize actively, and to fight for their rights hard enough. The reason, as I see it, is that in recent years in Russia almost destroyed a society in the traditional sense of the word: individually any goal we have achieved easier than collectively — and the government consciously supports such a situation, since it suggests that authorities need to negotiate (of course, to the benefit of officials). That’s why she never makes concessions to broad social movements — and do these movements gradually disappear due to the simple inefficiency.
However, what we saw in 2018 is the beginning of a process of local consolidation, which, although unlikely to become a national then, but can seriously spoil the lives of local officials. It is for this protest, not for an abstract dissatisfaction or disappointment I would be watched carefully in the coming year. Though Russia and want to submit “one”, rising from below a serious protest is unlikely to generate questions that equally affect all citizens.
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