Preemptive Repression

The following is an exclusive translation from RBK Daily on the preparations being made by the Russian security forces to handle an uprising or unrest over the economic crisis.

In expectation of uprisings

The powers have rethought reducing interior troops

Yesterday, the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] decided not to reduce the interior troops (VV), called upon, in part, to disperse demonstrators. The command of the troops justifies this by «tasks that have been set», without specifying them. In the opinion of experts, the siloviki seriously fear unrest among the unemployed, automobilists, discharged military, those dissatisfied with the growth of housing-and-public-utilities tariffs and other victims of the crisis and of the decisions of government officials.

«Reduction of the internal troops of the MVD of Russia will be suspended», — reported, citing a decision of the leadership of the country, commander in chief of the VV general of the army Nikolai Rogozhkin. He in no way connects the decision to maintain the numbers of the VV with the financial crisis, citing the «necessity of fulfilling all tasks that have been set», but which ones specifically, Mr. Rogozhkin does not specify.

«Our troops are designated for the protection of state andindustrial facilities, convoying of special cargoes, defense of servicelines, suppressing internal unrests and resolving inter-nationalityconflicts on the territory of the country, — clarified an RBK dailysource in the VV. — Probably, the leadership of the country isassessing the domestic political situation as not very stable, which iswhy it rethought reducing us».

The consequences of the crisis and unpopular decisions of the powershave already brought people out on the streets. In Vladivostok a marchof protest of several thousand automobilists against the increase incustoms duties for used foreign makes went outside the thematic bounds:people started talking about the costliness of fuel, food products andhousing-and-public-utilities services, about unemployment, the crisisand property stratification. A protest rally against the growth ofhousing-and-public-utilities tariffs on 15 December took place inIzhevsk, while on 21 December in the Far east and in Khabarovsk Krayare expected new protests of automobilists. The slogans of theprotestors have remained unnoticed by the central telechannels, buthave attracted the attention of the siloviki: in the regions are beingcreated anticrisis special groups of the MVD, the heads of theterritorial administrations of the FSB are likewise expecting protestactions. MVD analysts are attributing to the risk group reducedmilitary and rotation workers come back from Moscow. Also pouring oilon the fire are growing wage arrears. Thus, according to the data ofRosstat, overdue indebtedness on wages in November increased in Russiaby 93% and comprised 7.765 bln rub.

«As much as I know, the power elites are seriously concerned bypeople’s unrest associated with the financial crisis, — clarified toRBK daily the political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky. — In thesituation that has evolved the Kremlin has two ways out: pinpointfinancial injections and cracking down on demonstrators with the helpof internal troops». In the opinion of Mr. Belkovsky, the peak ofpeople’s dissatisfaction is going to come in the first quarter of theyear 2009: «The ranks of the demonstrators will be augmented as well bypeople deprived of mortgaged apartments, because for this period isplanned their mass repossession».