Russia’s ruling party makes food aid dependent on ‘support for Putin’ in occupied Ukraine
After Russia almost destroyed Mariupol, its ruling ‘United Russia’ party is bribing local residents, with food parcels if they provide signatures claiming support for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Moscow is staging Putin’s sixth ‘presidential election’, and though the ‘result’ has doubtless already been decided, the aim is to ‘demonstrate mass support’ for the dictator in occupied parts of Ukraine.
has posted a photo of the letter reportedly sent to residents by ‘United Russia’, offering a simple deal: a signature for food items that are very likely to be in short supply for most remaining residents. The letter brandishes words like ‘patriotism’ as well, of course, with the term having a very specific meaning to representatives of the aggressor state.
“If you have already managed to demonstrate your patriotism and support, with your signature, our president, Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, then you are entitled to social aid in the form of a selection of food items for the whole family.” Residents who have provided their signature can then get such aid by registering with the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic ministry of work and social assistance’. The epistle ends with “the ministry, ‘United Russia’ and the president himself” thanking residents for what is termed their “civic position”.
Russia is estimated to have destroyed up to 90% of the infrastructure in Mariupol through its bombing and shelling and the ‘reconstruction’ it has carried out is both inadequate and, at least in the centre, ‘for sale’, although the rebuilding has been of homes that it bombed and destroyed. The Russian contractors that Moscow brings in to do such work seldom hire local people. According to the now exiled head of Mariupol TV Mykola Osychenko , the contractors prefer migrant labour and Moscow “took offence at Mariupol” because its residents made it so very clear to the entire world that the Russians were not welcome. It can therefore be anticipated that a very large percentage of the population in occupied Mariupol will depend upon such ‘social aid’.
Russia’s so-called ‘presidential elections’ are scheduled for March 2024, with it doubtless no accident that they will come around the tenth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. has looked at the so-called ‘campaigning’ that has already begun in occupied parts of Donbas (the Russian proxy ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’]. Although 15 ‘candidates’ are claimed to be running, these are to imitate proper ballot papers, with the outcome in no doubt. Russia has, however, been increasing propaganda, pressure and outright terror tactics in occupied parts of Ukraine over recent months in order to foist its citizenship, with one reason doubtless the ‘elections’.
News of Donbas explains that in all occupied parts of Ukraine, Putin must come out “absolute leader”, with this aimed at ‘proving’ Ukrainians supposed support for the aggressor state. Russia has already staged similar stunts, including the so-called ‘referendum on joining the Russian Federation’ in September 2022, where ‘ballot papers’ were taken around people’s homes by ‘electoral commission’ members together with soldiers brandishing Kalashnikov rifles.
According to Pavlo Lisiansky, Founder of the East Human Rights Group, Russian-installed ‘authorities’ on occupied territory have already received instructions as to the ‘turnout’ which must be no less than 80%. Of these, the instructions go, support for Putin must be over 80%, with around 70% of the ‘campaigning’ devoted to him.
Political analyst Konstantin Skorkin explained why supposed support in occupied Donbas is important. “All of this war was begun by Putin according to his official mythology in order to save and liberate Donbas”. The focus, he says, will be specifically on Donbas, rather than occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts where Russia’s “achievements” are not great.
Russia had 8 years before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine to establish control in occupied Donbas, however its ‘achievements’ in other Donbas territory seized since February 2022 were gained at massive cost and are also questionable. As reported, even rabid supporters of ‘Russian world’ mythology have acknowledged that Ukrainians are angry and demand to know why Russia “liberated them of their homes, their livelihoods, and, often members of their family, killed in bombings.
Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko predicts that there will be a huge amount of propaganda rhetoric in the run-up to the ‘elections’, and lots of ‘pre-election events aimed at presenting this as ‘unification’. He likens Russia’s behaviour as that of an invader in the animal world who needs to mark out his territory. Russia, he says, is doing just that, in various ways and forms, from propaganda and administrative means to symbolic gestures, and foisting its own ‘monuments’ on occupied territory.