The city of Elista, the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia (a federal subject of Russia), became a center of protests against local authorities. The protests started on September 29 and continued in October. They were caused by recent personnel decisions in the municipal administration.
The authorities promised to launch a talent pool program in Kalmykia. However, on September 26, the city parliament appointed Dmitry Trapeznikov as the acting mayor. Until recently, Trapeznikov was the Ukrainian citizen. He has never been linked to the Republic of Kalmykia. Trapeznikov mostly known for being an acting Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine in the period from August 31, 2018 to September 7, 2018.
It is known that Trapeznikov has received support from Aide to the Russian President Vladislav Surkov. Surkov oversees Russia’s policy towards Ukraine, including the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Highly likely, Surkov lobbied the appointment of Trapeznikov to his new post. Modern Russian experts have contradictory views at Surkov’s personality. Many blame him for the failure of Moscow’s policy towards Ukraine. The Kremlin took half measures in 2014, which led to the current state of affairs. Another point of view is that Surkov is a brilliant player in political chess.
The appointment of Trapeznikov led to the start of reactive processes in the region. The situation is especially worrisome because for decades Kalmykia was one of the stable regions of Russia. Weekly protests demanding the resignation of Trapeznikov in Elista gather about 5,000 people. The total population of the city is 104,177. Therefore, about 5% of the city’s population is involved. For comparison, Moscow’s official population is 11.92 million (the real population is about 16 million). 5,000-strong anti-government protests in Moscow were covered by mainstream media as a ‘large-scale’ rebellion against the Kremlin.
The unstable situation in Elista already led to the growth local nationalist intentions. This had hot happened for decades. A new form of the protest movement was also formed. Chances that this negative trend will expand to neighboring regions are increasing.
Once again, developments in the Russian internal political sphere cause serious questions. Was the situation in Kalmykia caused by an incompetence or it was a preplanned provocation by external or internal forces?