Over the past days, Russia’s Khabarovsk has been the center of the political turbulence in Russia. On July 9, security forces detained the government of the Khabarosvk region, Sergei Furgal. The detained governor was removed from his post. He’s suspected of organizing of killings of several businessmen by an organized criminal group in 2004-2005.
The Khabarovsk region is located in Russia’s Far East and borders with China.
The detention of Furgal:
The part of the regional elites linked with Furgal immediately made an attempt to label the case as a ‘political presecution’ and instigated protests in the region.
Сегодня около 20 тысяч сторонников губернатора Фургала, арестованного за организацию убийств, устроили несанкционированную акцию протеста в Хабаровске.
Митингующие собрались на площади Ленина, возле администрации губернатора, а затем прошли по центральным улицам города pic.twitter.com/I5lkt6OZf6
— НТВ (@ntvru) July 11, 2020
These protests were widely supported by the pro-Western, neo-liberal segment of Russian media, including outlets affilated with a notorious ‘leader of the non-system opposition’ (the one that declares the goal of overthrowing the government by non-constitutional means) Alexei Navalny.
Хабаровск сейчас. Дальний Восток, мы с вами! pic.twitter.com/x0oPjLWCfP
— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) July 11, 2020
Активист с мегафоном спрашивает — с каким пор Москва является нашим хозяином? Регионы должны быть независимыми! pic.twitter.com/N8A8UQ11xe
— Штаб Навального в Хабаровске (@teamnavalnykhv) July 11, 2020
The goal of the ongoing coordinated media campaign is to undermine the criminal investigation and help the detained official to avoid responsibility for his criminal actions. This is an ordinary behaviour for the Russian ‘liberal opposition’ and ‘liberal media’ that became used to justifying any acts of crime, terror and corruption if they allow to damage the interests of the Russian state.
Another interesting fact is that hundreds and thousands bots and and bot videos flooded Tik Tok, the Chinese-controlled social media outlet popular among young people. According to IT security experts, the bot network involved that instigates the protests in Khabarovsk is no less than 50,000. Videos promoted by this network collects hundreds of thousand likes (most of them from bots) and enters the trends (HOT) section of the social network.
Under the general Tik Tok policy, the social network works to limit the reach of politicized content and removes videos calling for protests, riots, violence etc. Earlier, Tik Tok even removed videos of supporters of the notorious cult of Alexei Navalny’s ‘fighters for democracy’. However, as of now, the Chinese-controlled social media seems to have changed the approach and intetionally promoting pro-protests videos.
Examples of videos promoted in Tik Tok:
Examples of accounts involved in the campaign:
Even if the accounts in the examples above are run by the pro-Furgal media campaign, Tik Tok still plays own role in the situation by allowing their operations.
It seems that China works to exploit the turbulence in Russia’s far east to achieve its own political goals and gain additional leverages of pressure on the Russian leadership. Such an approach is fully in the framework of the general principles of the Chinese diplomacy. Beijing seeks to weaken the ally in order to improve its own negotiating position in the bilateral relations.
This situation demonstrates how issues with the internal political stability of Russia could undermine its stance on the international arena and even its position in the cooperation with traditional allies and partners.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Ukrainization Of Russian Politics? Khabarovsk Protests Demand Release Of Governor Detained For Organizing Murders