Staunton, July 27 – The ancient question, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make any noise?” needs to be updated for Russia today. Now, people should ask themselves “if there are demonstrations beyond the ring road but not in Moscow, have they in fact taken place?”
Yesterday, with the permission of the authorities in six Russian cities – Novosibirsk, Yekatrinburg, Ufa, and Kurgan – and, not having that permission, in a seventh – St. Petersburg – Russians came into the streets to protest the repressive Yarovaya “package” of laws that Vladimir Putin recently signed into law (vestnikcivitas.ru/news/3989).
But because officials in Moscow refused permission and no march took place in the Russian capital, that became the story for most outlets, yet another indication of the Moscow-centric view of Russia not only in the Kremlin but among many Russians including those who do not live in or perhaps do not even like Muscovites.
Indeed, Ekho Moskvy devoted more attention to the fact that one activist, Mikhail Lashkevich, had gone by himself to stand at the entrance of Moscow’s Lubyanka with a placard declaring “I am against the terrorist Yarovaya law” for which he was arrested than to all the meetings elsewhere (echo.msk.ru/news/1808928-echo.html).
But those meetings reflected the views of many Russians as a collection of online photographs offered by Meduza.io shows (meduza.io/news/2016/07/26/v-rossiyskih-gorodah-proshli-mitingi-protiv-paketa-yarovoy), and they underscore the reality that whatever some may think Moscow isn’t Russia just as Putin isn’t either.