“I see a bad moon a-rising.” Or, perhaps I should say Vladimir Putin does, for he dispatched Interior Ministry OMON troops from Moscow and the Caucusus (!) to Vladivostok to bust some heads and keep the provincials in line:
In yet another indication that Moscow fears protests in the regions could get support from local governments and thus represent a threat to itself, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin send OMON units from Moscow, Daghestan and two Siberian cities to ruthlessly suppress a second weekend of demonstrations in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.
But his transparent effort to send a message to more than just the residents of the Russian Far East appears to have backfired. Not only have people elsewhere organized similar protests, but some Russians are asking why Moscow television has not reported on the Vladivostok events and even whether the Duma should reverse Putin’s order imposing tariffs on foreign cars.
The use of troops from one region to enforce order in another is a well-established imperial policing technique, historically employed not just in Russia but in other empires as well. Moreover, it is tantamount to an admission of distrust in the reliability of one’s troops.
Per earlier posts–and debates with Timothy & DR–this is yet another indication of the authorities’ jumpiness about their control over the population. Whether this reflects a sober appraisal of the situation, or paranoia, or both, is impossible to tell. But does it really matter? Indeed, paranoia-induced heavy handedness could spark the very unrest that Putin evidently fears so much.
In other fronts of Putin’s global charm offensive, Russia’s opposition resulted in the termination of the OSCE mission in Georgia, and Russia/Gazprom completed the strongarm robbery of Serbia’s national oil company. That’s the way to win friends and influence people.