In the Republic of Bashkortostan in the far east of Russia there have been open protests and clashes with the police since Wednesday - the first major demonstrations in Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The protests were triggered by the sentencing of Bashkir nationalist Fail Alsynov to four years in prison. The demonstrators are demanding his release and the resignation of the leader of the republic, Radiy Khabirov. Does this unrest pose a threat to Moscow?

Dangerously insulting to an entire people

Bashkir political scientist Abbas Galliamov sees a risk for the Kremlin. In a Telegram post picked up by Echo, he writes:

“The authorities will have to take very tough action to suppress the dissatisfaction - meaning that a lot of bitter grievances will accumulate in people's memory. This in turn means that at a time when things are going very badly for the regime, the weight of the grievances voiced by the people could be quite overwhelming. This is also how the Soviet Union collapsed. Remember that the Chechens' main argument in their declaration of independence was resentment over their deportation half a century earlier. Ethnic memory is very long. The authorities themselves are now laying a bomb under the foundations of Russia.”


Russian revolutions don't come from the grassroots

Protests only pose a threat to the regime in Moscow under the right condtions, political scientist Viktor Andrusiv writes in

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“Revolutions in Russia never come from the grassroots. They always occur because of a split in the state leadership, when the new opposition leaders are yesterday's members of the government. ... A revolutionary situation is maturing in Russia, but it will only explode when a leading figure emerges. The Kremlin is well aware of this and is therefore eliminating any claims to leadership or dissent as soon as they emerge. Without such an actor, there will be no revolution. Also, it is not problems in the war but a rapid deterioration in the socio-economic situation that will cause a [social] explosion.”


No protest against the Kremlin line

Unian does not believe the unrest will spread:

“The fact is that the Russians have neither the weapons nor the morale to fight. Protest - yes. But it consists of merely raising a problem and expressing it. What's more, all this is happening in the context of pleas to Putin: 'Putin, help us!' And unfortunately that means that even people who dare to protest against something will vote for Putin. ... Because with a few rare exceptions, Russians who are dissatisfied with something blame their problems on local figures.”

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