Russian police come down heavy on Siberian federalization supporters
The banner reads: Federalization is NOT a call to progroms. Russia IS a federation! [photo: Taiga.info]
Any attempt to hold the originally planned march in support of Siberian federalization on Aug 17 was prevented by the police. The four organizers were summoned for questioning throughout the week as well as on Sunday. TV Dozhd reports that the day before one of them found a severed sheep’s head at his door.
According to Taiga.info, a picket, agreed with the authorities did take place in Novosibirsk with around 15 people, however the march did not take place. This was supposedly because of 90 complaints received by the Investigative Committee claiming that the march was illegal. As well as a considerable number of media present because of the Russian authorities’ heavy-handed reaction to the planned event, there seems to have been a massive police presence stopping any possible attempt to hold the march.
Both the initially planned march and the enforced alternative had indeed been banned by the local authorities. The original march was planned under the slogan “Enough of feeding Moscow!”. Its aim: to seek greater autonomy by creating a Siberian republic within the Russian Federation. Autonomy from Russia was seen as enabling the people of Siberia to introduce benefits and wage supplements for people living in harsh climactic conditions and generally achieve a fairer divide between local and federal budgets. The planned peaceful march was banned, and the Russian prosecutor worked together with Roskomnadzor, the media supervision body, to threaten all media, in Russia and even in Ukraine, that they would be blocked if they did not remove material about the planned event.
The organizers then announced another march for the same day in defence of the constitutional order, and specifically the principle of federalism enshrined in Articles 1 and 5 of the Constitution. This was also banned.
There were attempts to hold meetings or pickets in other Russian cities.
Grani.ru reports that in Omsk the organizer of a protest under the banner “We’ll show Moscow Siberia”, Alexander Budyko and some activists who were sticking up flyers were detained.
In Yekaterinburg two people were detained. According to activists’ tweets, around 15-20 people arrived on Labour Square in T-shirts reading “Enough of feeding Moscow”, and some brought out posts, including with the emblem of the Ural Republic. Witnesses reported there to have been more provocateurs than participants. Those detained face administrative charges for allegedly failing to obey the legitimate order of a police officer.
Felix Rivkin, one of the activists, told Grani.ru that they had applied for permission to hold a meeting similar to that planned in Novosibirsk but had had this application rejected. They wanted to hold a picket with a number of people but this was also not allowed, and so they decided to hold single-person pickets, the only thing which does not require authorization. It seems likely that the detentions were the result of action by provocateurs.
See the texts below for further information about the extraordinarily repressive measures taken by the Russian authorities over extremely modest demands and attempts by media and information portals to report them. These come at a time when Russia is providing military and financial support for Kremlin-backed militants in Ukraine.