To set Russia apart from the pack, Putin is leaning on a unique pitch: that only Russian support can help protect the sovereignty of African countries.
“We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments,” Putin told TASS on Monday in an interview ahead of the summit, adding that Russia was ready to provide help without “political or other conditions.”
“Our country played a significant role in the liberation of the continent, contributing to the struggle of the peoples of Africa against colonialism, racism, and apartheid,” he said. Although ties deteriorated after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, traces remain: the Mozambique flag, for instance, carries the Kalashnikov rifle.
—Evan Gershkovich, “At Russia’s Inaugural Africa Summit, Moscow Sells Sovereignty, Moscow Times, 26 October 2019
It’s amazing to read nonsense like this some ten or so years after an unbelievable wave of neo-Nazi terror in Petersburg, Moscow, and other Russian cities that targeted, among others, the country’s African community and African students.
I remember going, back then, to a community event where I was told, by one person after another, that none of them went out in Petersburg after dark except by car or taxi.
This is not to mention the fact that all the African leaders lining up for aid from Russia want to know nothing, apparently, about the Putin regime’s attitude to the Russian people, which differs very little from that of colonizers to the colonized. Just look at what is happening right now in Shiyes, for example. [TRR]
OMON Forces Move to Cut Off Shiyes Protesters from Outside World
Window on Eurasia
October 29, 2019
Staunton, October 25 — In an ominous move, some 30 OMON officers two days ago blocked the railroad station near where the Shiyes anti-trash dump protesters have made their camp as well as the roads leading to and from it, electric power there and in neighboring villages, and Internet connections with the outside world.
The protesters and their supporters are not sure whether this is the first step towards the closing of their camp or simply another feint in that direction designed to keep them nervous and off balance.
But one thing many of them are sure of is that Vladimir Putin is behind the move and that this is yet another case in which he has made much-covered public promises to defer to the population and follow the rule of law only to move in another direction when attention shifts.
Obviously, there is still some communication between the protesters and journalists; but the ring is being tightened. And as the weather gets worse, it will become far more difficult for the protesters to get the supplies and support they need to continue their protest against the largest trash dump in Europe, one not for their own wastes but for those of Moscow.
I Am Shiyes! We Are Shiyes!
Imagine that you live in the Arkhangelsk Region. You are strong, independent people, descendants of Russians who were untouched by the Tatar-Mongol yoke and serfdom.
You are not office clerks or anyone’s employees, the more so since there is really nowhere to work. Your native land—its forest and rivers—feeds you. You live off the land and for the land. It is your place in life.
And now the brazen Moscow scumbags who have made billions of rubles from garbage have turned their fat mugs towards your part of the world. After making a bloody mess of the Moscow Region and its neighbors, they have taken a look at your land and licked their chops, deciding to build a landfill there. Your land suits them because it is not so far from Moscow, but it is sparsely populated and invisible from the capital. Your land suits the scumbags.
They have dubbed their future garbage dump, where they intend to transport nearly all the trash from Moscow, an “environmental industrial estate,” but whatever they call it, a garbage dump—a gigantic garbage dump—is still a garbage dump.
The bastards could not care less that the land is yours and gives you life: they have decided to fuck it up, too. They could not care less that it is a buffer zone for sources of drinkable water, that the land is swampy and runoff from the garbage dump will poison the soil, plants, and forests that sustain you and your children, that first the Vychegda River will be polluted and then the Northern Dvina, that previously pristine places will be destroyed.
But the scumbags have run into an unexpected obstacle: you decided to resist. There are not many of you, but you are human beings.
At first, you tried to appeal to the authorities, but you soon realized the scumbags attempting to spoil your land are the authorities.
And so then you simply have tried to keep the scumbags out. You have set up a tent city: you have guarded your land, preventing them from building their landfill. And the station of Shiyes, the place around which these events have unfolded, has become iconic throughout Russia, a place where people have resisted the lawlessness of the authorities.
Honestly, though, it is not just about the garbage dump. The fact of the matter is that you are human beings and you do not want to surrender your land to scumbags. It is a matter of fairness, of justice.
At first, even the local police were on your side, but then the scumbags recruited squads of goons from all over the country to try and handle you. This was what happened during the spring and summer.
But then fall came, and the scumbags realized the time is now. The political storms in Moscow have subsided, winter is on its way, and it will be harder and harder for you to resist.
So the bastards have stepped it up. They have used the Russian National Guard to break your blockade, and they have turned off the lights and the internet in the houses where your children live so the country won’t find about what is happening.
The bastards really want money and if they had their druthers they would kill you and bury you in the northern soil. The only thing holding them back, ever so slightly, is the possible bad publicity.
The bastards have the authorities and the Russian National Guard at their backs. There are only a handful of you.
Can you imagine this?
That is exactly what is happening now in Shiyes, where construction of a landfill has turned into a military special operation, a special operation so important, that martial law, a state of siege, has been imposed in the neighboring village of Urdoma. The special operation has been coordinated by the president’s plenipotentiary representative in the Northwest Federal District, Alexander Gutsan, who recently flew to Syktyvkar. It is so important that Viktor Polonikov, the interior minister of the Republic of Komi, personally visited Shiyes.
This is a real occupation, a war waged against the region’s inhabitants for the sake of huge profits.
The defenders of Shiyes are brave people, but they cannot cope with the Russian National Guard, with the Interior Ministry, with the steamroller of the regime alone.
We should all go to Shiyes and take our stand against the occupiers, but we cannot do this: we are not ready, we are weak.
But we can make it known to the entire country. We can spread the news, and this is also a way of helping, something that is in our power to do.
Tell everyone about what is happening in Shiyes. Write about it: do not be silent!
Today, they are cracking down on the defenders of Shiyes. Tomorrow, they will come for you.
Vera Afanasyeva is a former professor in the philosophy department at Saratov State University and a writer. Thanks to Valery Dymshits for the heads-up. Photo of Shiyes courtesy of Vera Afanasyeva. Translated by the Russian Reader