Mass Protest in Bashkortostan

Protesters rallied in Ufa the Capital of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan this past weekend:

Protesters have rallied in Bashkortostan, an autonomous republic in the Volga region, against President Murtaza Rakhimov and the authorities’ social policy, the Russian news site Gazeta.ru reported.

More than ten thousand people poured into the streets of the Bashkir capital of Ufa demanding Rakhimov’s resignation and the repeal of the monetization of benefits. The authorities did not address the marchers who have already begun “choosing the color” of the revolution.

According to Chairman of the For Human Rights organization Lev Ponomaryov, human rights advocates have long been closely watching Bashkortostan since the number of rights-violation appeals from there is much greater than those from other regions.

According to Ponomaryov, both the Bashkir and Kyrgyz structures resemble clan and nepotism societies, meaning Bashkortostan could go the way of Kyrgyzstan. In addition to demanding Rakhimov’s resignation, marchers want compensation for emotional damage and physical damage residents of Blagoveshchensk suffered when police and special forces beat people during a December operation.

Marat Hairullin, member of the public committee for the Blagoveshchensk affair, said that if the authorities did not respond to the outcries of the population, then the Bashkir opposition would conduct another protest in April demanding Rahimov’ s resignation.

If still no response is evoked, then several thousand people will march on Ufa’s Central Square on May 1.

Opposition activists say they are seeking to draw the attention of Russian authorities to the people’s discontent with the republic’s president and the federal government. The May 1 protest would be the third protest opposing the Republic’ s leadership.

Pravda has a very informative post reporting that Russia may not be able to handle the rebellious regions:

Recent massive actions of protest in Bashkortostan and Ingushetia showed that the Russian federal budget would not be enough to cope with such questions: the problematic zone has already extended from the Northern Caucasus to Muslim republics northwards (Bashkortostan and Tatarstan).

Recent revolutions, which took place on the territory of post-Soviet states, have their echo in Russia already, albeit in most troublesome regions and republics so far. The Ukrainian experience demonstrated that the Western society can approve and support radical actions to change power in the country. Recent events in Kyrgyzstan, however, have become a lesson of a different kind. It has been proved now that there is no need in a powerful opposition movement, firm ideology and massive support of the population. If the regime is experiencing the final stage of its decline, it will collapse like a house of cards under the pressure of even a small, albeit decisive crowd of several thousands of people. It is enough to convince an impoverished nation that the power in their country is corrupt, weak and not able to function. This situation is being currently formed in the Northern Caucasus and in many Muslim republics of Russia.

About 20,000 people poured out into the streets of Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, on March 26th, 2005. The people were prepared to storm the building of the republic’s government. The opposition demanded the resignation of the Bashkir President, Murtaza Rakhimov. The opposition of the republic plans to start the national action of protest on May 1st of the current year.

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