LIVE UPDATES: Farmers in the provincial Russian region of Kuban angry at confiscation of their land have started a convoy of tractors and cars and set off to “march on Moscow.”
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Recent Analysis and Translations:
– The Kremlin is Working Hard to Make Donald Trump President
– Russian Elections Round-Up: Parnas List Accepted; Party of Pensioners Forced to Remove Candidates
– âWhat Would Boris Do?â Opposition Struggles with In-Fighting on Eve of September Elections
– NATO Got Nothing From Conceding To Russia In the Past, Why Should It Cave To The Kremlin Now?
On this past Saturday evening, August 20, unidentified attackers hurled a bucket of feces at Irina Latynina, Novaya Gazeta reported.
Latynina said on an Ekho Moskvy program that she was on her way to host her radio show Kod Dostupa (“Access Code”) when the incident occurred. She parked her car about 3 kilometers away from the studio as she usually does because she enjoys walking through New Arbat. She believes the attackers knew her route and waited for her. A man in a motorcycle helmet — so that she couldn’t see his face — approached her and dumped the bucket on her, drenching her from head to foot. Despite carrying a heavy bag, she tried to run after him but he jumped on the back of another man’s motorcycle and they escaped. It took her a half an hour to wash off the feces.
Apparently someone was offended on behalf of Mr. Prigozhin. I don’t know, who. I can’t imagine who could be offended on behalf of Mr. Prigozhin. But I know for sure…I think Mr. Gromov and Mr. Peskov and even Vladimir Putin personally know the name of this person who was offended on Prigozhin’s behalf.
Dmitry Peskov is spokesman for the presidential administration and Andrei Gromov is first deputy chief of staff of the presidential executive office.
Latynina, an outspoken radio host and columnist who works for both Ekho Moskvy and Novaya Gazeta, believes the attack could be related to Novaya Gazeta pieces and several Ekho Moskvy shows in which she discussed the attacks on bloggers and opposition people in St. Petersburg near their homes which was believed to be connected to a site that leaked their personal addresses discovered to be tied to Dmitry Prigozhin, the owner of the “Troll Farm” and President Vladimir Putin’s personal chef.
Novaya Gazeta said in a statement about the attack on Latynina:
We have not yet been able to connect the attack on our columnist Yuliya Latynina with the name of the “Kremlin chef” Yevgeny Prigozhin specifically, as there is no direct evidence. But we cannot help but note the trend whereby not the government and its authorized bodies but self-proclaimed pseudo-patriots have taken upon themselves the function of henchmen. And they even publicly chose their victims.
As RFE/RL’s Russian Service Radio Svoboda reports, journalists and bloggers came to the defense of Latynina, noting that she suffered an attempt on her life about 15 years ago.
Translation: The attack on Latynina is the latest act of government gansterism. All of these NODs and “Serb” and so on are protected by and organized by the police.
NOD is the National Liberation Movement and SERB is the acronym for South East Radical Bloc.
Translation: On the attack on Yuliya Latynina.
Shenderovich said that while Latynina could wash off the smell, the police who enable this sort of attack “cannot remove the stench from their biographies.”
Translation: A disgrace! Today idiots poured feces not only on Latynina but all our journalism. If the government doesn’t defend her, they will pour on them, too.
Novaya Gazeta has asked the police to open up a criminal case and is continuing to investigate.
Independent journalists and opposition members have suffered a string of attacks tied either to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov and Chechen military or to Prigozhin or various ultranationalist groups such as the National Liberation Movement, headed by United Russia MP Yevgeny Fyodorov.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Translation: The tractor run from Kuban to Moscow: farmers are driving to the president with complaints.
This protest has been gathering steam for a year and recently gathered more momentum.
In the village of Kazanskaya in Kavkazsky District of Kuban in southern Russia, farmers held a rally over the weekend to protest the failure of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to meet with them on his recent visit to nearby Krasnodarsky Territory.
On August 9, farmers had stood along Medvedev’s route along the highway with signs saying “Gang – Get Out!” and “Give Back Our Land”. They were arrested and taken to the police precinct until Medvedev’s trip was over. In Krasnodar, he made one of his much-derided statements (like his infamous “There’s no money. Hang on. Have a nice day” to Crimeans):
“I now have a sense of pride at how the rural economy is developing. I will not let them touch the village.”
As Andrei Sandakov from the village of Novotitarovskaya commented (translation by The Interpreter):
“The people who didn’t get through the selection, the old women and old men, were not allowed to see Medvedev. His motorcade just flew by. In our area, for example, for years, more than a thousand shareholders have been fighting Oleg Deripaska’s Kuban Agricultural Union for land, they are paying taxes for what they do not possess. Their parcels were sold illegally to business people and people lost everything.”In the village of Starovelichovskaya, Oleg Makarevich, who rents out lands (the head of Sovetskaya Kuban, Ltd and Oktyabr, Ltd.) held a meeting with shareholders with blatant violation of the law. His officers forged more than 80% of the signatures to documents. Through a trick, he extended the terms of leases on four giant tracts for 30 years. About a thousand people suffered losses.”
The drivers have already reached neighboring Rostov Region where they held a rally and have not been stopped so far. They intend to head to Voronezh next. They think that they will collect some 300 tractors by the time they get near Moscow, in about six days, if they are not halted.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick