On April 25, SouthFront released a video analysis titled “Managing Russia’s dissolution: Truth or Desire?”. The video analysis reviewed waves information onslaught against Russia, traditionally backed by Western funds, as well as their targets. In this very analysis, SouthFront forecasted that a new wave of such efforts against Russia should be expected in the near future. This is also publicly admitted by various Western experts; for example, Janusz Bugajski, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington, D.C.
The city of Yekaterinburg, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, became a first target of this new campaign. On May 13, local activists blocked the start of construction of an Orthodox church (“Khram Svyatoy Yekateriny”) in one of the city’s parks. People rallying against the project clashed with its supporters. Some activists were detained. After this, local authorities intervened in the situation attempting to settle the conflict between the sides. By May 20, this had not been achieved. The construction of church has not been started yet.
At the first glance, these developments could be described as something common for any civil society. However, after the more detailed look, it appears that there are multiple signals that the ongoing conflict over the church is created artificially, managed by some outside force and has little with the formally declared reason of protests. The goal of these efforts is to undermine the political system and create an instability factor in one of the key Russian regions.
The factors contributing to this version are personalities of leaders and some participants of the protests and the group of media outlets and bloggers providing them with media assistance, as well as symbols, slogans and approaches employed by the protesters. These include provocateurs at rallies, the involvement of separatists and persons not living in Sverdlovsk Oblast or even in Russia.
A few examples:
1. Some of the protesters used the flag of the so-called Ural Republic, a unrecognized subject of the Russian Federation that was illegally declared in July 1993 by Eduard Rossel, then-Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast. These separatist efforts found little support from the population and the project was dismantled in the same year. Rossel lost his post.
2. One of the leaders of the protesters is Fedor Krashennikov. He’s a friend of Leonid Volkov, the righ hand of Western-backed “non-system” opposition politician and self-declared “liberal” Aleksey Navalny. Volkov headed similar protests against the previous project of the church “Khram Svyatoy Yekateriny” in 2010.
HINT: Russia’s non-system opposition is a part of the opposition that publicly rejects cooperation with the government, in the framework of the existing legal base. Its main goal is to overthrow the current government and seize power using any methods, including unconstitutional ones.
3. Latvia-based hardcore opposition Russian-language media outlet Meduza provided an extensive anti-government coverage of the developments obviously attempting to fuel the instability.
4. A hardcore pro-opposition and anti-Orthodox website, credo.press, actively provides support to protesters and works to fuel tensions. The editor-in-chief of this website is Olexander Soldatov, who is affiliated with Ukrainian politicians and structures involved in the 2014 Maydan coup in Ukraine.
5. Olexander Soldatov works Vadim Mironovich Lourie, the creator of the so-called “Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church”. This organization stands against the traditional Russian Orthodox Church (also known as Moscow Patriarchate).
It should be noted that the US and Western-linked funds are actively supporting various separatist concepts designed to divide Russia. These include projects like the Ural Republic, the Idel-Ural State [a separatist entity located in the modern Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan], Crimean Tatars radicals and separatists and others. An interesting fact is that most of these projects are linked with Islamist radicals.
In the near future, it is possible to expect Yekaterinburg-style actions in other regions of Russia. These actions would employ various pretexts to destabilize the situation on the regional level and to undermine the existing political system.
The confused reaction of regional authorities and a soft response from the federal center (Moscow) are another reason for concern. It is especially strange that this kind of reaction to such developments are observed almost everywhere across Russia.
Regarding the situation in Yekaterinburg, according to existing data, no investigation has been launched into actions of organizers or members of the protests over their activity in interests of foreign states and special services. On the one hand, this soft approach demonstrates at least a formal commitment of the “Putin regime” to democracy. On the other hand, it’s hard to suppose this kind of reaction to such developments in Ukraine, the US or even France. During the ongoing Yellow Protests in France, mainstream media outlets immediately started spreading rumors about the “Russian trance” in the protests. French special services launched an investigation into these rumors, which led to no results.
As to the situation in Ukraine, the nationalist regime of Petro Poroshenko just cracked down on the opposition in 2015-2016 by force. Many activists were killed or jailed under various pretexts. Many of the jailed people than died in the prisons. Since 2014, the Kiev regime has been oppressing freedom of speech and persecuting journalists working beyond the US agenda for Ukraine.
One of the incidents that reached the international audience is the killing of journalist Oles Buzina on April 16, 2015. He was shot on the footpath not far from his flat in Kiev. The reason of the murder was his critical public stance on the actions of the Poroshenko regime.
Summing up the abovementioned facts, it’s easy to fall under impression that in the modern world the word “democracy” should be read as “dictatorship”. At the same time, the word “dictatorship” used by mainstream media outlets and Western diplomats often means “democracy”.