Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
For a very long time - 93 days - the Russian authorities ignored the protests of Khabarovsk in support of the former governor Sergei Furgal. For several months, every tenth resident of the city took part in protests. The demonstrations were unauthorized, but they were not dispersed. Columns of cars "For Furgala!" Were moving across the Far East, but no one stopped them. Moscow sent a new governor - Dyagterev, the leader of the parliament. Residents were indignant at the primitive trolling of the Kremlin and did not leave the street. In recent weeks, about a thousand people came out on Saturdays - 50 times less than at the beginning of the protests. But this is how 20 thousand would come out in Moscow to protest.
Talk about overclocking began in July. A week before that, the Khabarovsk authorities tried to stifle the already familiar Saturday slogans “In the heat and in the rain, we will follow Furgal” and “It's time to poison the mole” by Prokofiev and Strauss. The effect is zero. Last Saturday, people gathered again in the central square. Three tents were immediately set up. And then the security officials were given the command "face". Because this is already the Maidan.
“The security officials were forced to intervene and persuade the protesters to remove the tents. Since the protesters refused to do it voluntarily, the illegal structures were dismantled by the guards, ”the administration says.
They tried to convince the whole city to shudder. This has never happened in Khabarovsk. 25 people were detained, two ended up in hospital. Two teenagers at the police station were brought to their knees and laughed at. Torture came to Khabarovsk.
Journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev , who worked for the action, believes that two factors contributed to the aggravation:
“There are two signals for the authorities when force can be used: the first is the tents, and the second is the small number. That is, when they see that there are a lot of people, they line up, salute. As soon as there are fewer people, they become angrier. And when small groups remain, then they will already finish off. They are afraid of Ukraine like fire, but they were not taught anything by the situation in 2013, when Yanukovych decided to cleanse people from the Maidan, and everything will be fine. This let him down, as you know, because more people started coming out. The Khabarovsk authorities do not teach anything about life, they think that if there are not enough people, they must be finally finished off so that they will not disagree".
Experts believe that the situation in Khabarovsk has acquired a new quality. Political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin says:
- People already understand that there is nowhere to retreat. And the authorities seem to understand this and are no longer trying to negotiate, but trying to drive everyone under the bench so that they do not crawl out. This means that the authorities have run out of resources for bargaining with the population - to give some money, promise something, somehow make amends, correct something, publicly punish someone. It doesn't work anymore, it doesn't get easier for people.
It is obvious that Khabarovsk does not support Furgal, this is only a pretext. The farther from Moscow, the more people feel disconnected. On the outskirts of Russia, there is a growing understanding that Moscow cannot help with anything, but commands in the old way. Social irritation builds up. In addition, the federal government stopped hearing the people. People send a signal to Moscow, and from there there is no answer, just as there is no dialogue on equal terms. The authorities do not comply with the demands of the protesters. The authorities do not understand and do not hear them.
- The authorities have lost the habit of the fact that people can demand some kind of political freedoms, while neglecting material handouts. Simply put, if people demanded to do something, then the government would have done it long ago, and since they are required of the impossible - to yield in rights, there are no mechanisms for solving this problem, - says Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy .
When the Soviet Union collapsed, people were afraid to put forward political demands, recalls Dmitry Oreshkin. The fear of people in prison was palpable. Then the protest took the form of environmental activity. People rushed to save the Aral Sea, fought to ban the construction of a railway tunnel under the Main Caucasian ridge. This is how the people channel the accumulated irritation.
- All these "bulk" and others are bad, but the environmental reasons, garbage, trucks, construction ... Bashkir shirkhans suddenly became extremely valuable. Since 1947, they have been developed, no one was particularly worried, and suddenly the Bashkir public started up, - says Dmitry Oreshkin. - This is such a form of sublimation of irritation. People inside themselves are in despair, they understand that there are no jobs, wages are not growing, and there is nothing to feed the children. That's why they come out so violently.
In fact, the authorities have nothing to say to the people who took to the streets. She cannot create jobs, she cannot raise wages, she cannot give money. There remains one proven remedy - the National Guard. The situation is aggravated by the specific socio-economic characteristics of the Khabarovsk Territory. Unlike other regions, there are not many state employees here. In addition, they already have experience of successfully dealing with the center.
- Most of the population of Khabarovsk are people who are not dependent on the state. Roughly speaking, there are not so many state employees to be easily intimidated. Therefore, it is important for them to keep this circumstance. In fact, they are fighting to maintain the status quo that they managed to achieve after the resignation of Shport. And the main thing here is political independence, - Ilya Grashchenkov is sure.
More broadly, the Russian authorities do not understand what to do with the growing urban population. The government does not understand how to solve the tasks that it sets before it.
- The townspeople have certain requirements. Not from whimsy, not from Western agitation. They want them to have rights, they want to be protected. This is an objective set of requirements. These requirements are not even realized. But they see that everything is unfair. The bosses steal, corruption. They want changes, but do not really understand - what, but desirable, according to European standards, - political scientist Oreshkin describes the situation.
For Russia, such a protest is new. It was not those from the capital, who were physically close to the center of power, and therefore especially dangerous citizens, who took to the streets. You cannot seize power from Khabarovsk by force. You can just take and tighten the screws, but then it will be extremely difficult to elect someone in the Khabarovsk Territory. The mistake is, says Ilya Grashchenkov, that the authorities want to push through a cynical humiliating scenario, according to which Diagterev, a new Furgal on the basis of belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with all the features inherent in people from this party, must necessarily become governor. People feel insulted.
"People are outraged that the authorities are so openly ignoring them, and in general, the endless rule of the same people is tired, I want some kind of change. To extinguish the protest, the authorities need to demonstrate respect for the opinions of people and explain to them - either explain clearly why an open and public trial of Furgal in Khabarovsk is impossible, or agree with their demand and organize this trial'', - said political analyst Abbas Galyamov.
When asked how long such a situation can last in Khabarovsk, it cannot continue indefinitely - experts say that such a scenario is also possible.
- It lasts in Iran, in North Korea, Venezuela... there are many regimes where, in conditions of economic stagnation, power is retained due to the fact that it is supported by the security forces. Enough money to feed the security forces - well, good! - recalls Dmitry Oreshkin.
According to a poll by the Levada Center, in August 47% of the Russian population support the protests in Khabarovsk. There is no reason to hope for the protest passivity of Russian citizens after the events in Belarus, where the population was considered super loyal to Lukashenka and incapable of mass protest.
But so far, the authorities are not reflecting on the admissibility or inadmissibility of force. There is money both for maintaining the trousers of the population, and for paying the generals. The country is rich. But as people began to disperse, the realization came that the problem would not go away by itself. This is superimposed on the crisis due to the pandemic, the fall in federal budget revenues due to the uncertainty in the oil and gas market in the world. The next challenge for the authorities is the elections to the State Duma next year. They can also provoke another round of defiance in the region. Experts do not undertake to predict what will happen next. One thing is clear - the degree of confrontation will grow, and the rates will rise.