Staunton, Mar. 15 – Vladimir Putin visited Buryatia, a republic in the Russian Far East whose people disproportionately die for him in his war in Ukraine but currently earn less than a third of what Muscovites who don’t do, an even that Leonid Nevzlin says “took place in a perfectly imperial style.”
The former oligarch who now lives in Israel and writes critical commentaries on Putin and his war visited a military factory and met with senior officials, warned against the dangers of nationalism, and ignored the plight of one of the poorest nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=64121A5FA334F).
According to Nevzlin, the only things that connect Buryatia to the Russian world Putin promoted on this occasion as on so many others are the Russian language the Buryats are now forced to speak from childhood on, their service to Moscow in its imperial wars, and the giant head of Lenin in the main square of the republic capital.
Putin’s only concession to the plight the Buryats and other peoples east of the Urals suffer under his rule was his effort to explain why Moscow has not provided gas supplies for heating to much of the population there. But to do that, Putin had to lie about the number of people who live in the entire region.
The Kremlin leader said that only 12 million people live east of the Urals inside the Russian Federation and thus because the population is so small it is difficult and certainly not cost effective to bring gas to villages there which are declining in population as younger people flee to the cities.
The only problem with Putin’s remark is that his own officials and the most recent Russian census show that 27 million people live in this enormous region. What now remains to be seen is which number will be the “official” one (censoru.net/2023/03/15/ne-27-millionov-putin-progovorilsja-ob-istinnom-kolichestve-naselenija-rf-za-uralom.html).
As during leaders’ visits in Soviet times, the place where Putin visited was spruced up in the best Potemkin tradition, with some buildings actually being painted and others draped with enormous covers so that he won’t see the truth about a population he clearly knows little and cares less.
Fortunately for the historical record, the SibReal portal has provided a photographic guide to the city of Ulan Ude, showing both the places Putin won’t be shown and others that have been covered up for his visit so that he won’t see (sibreal.org/a/ulan-ude-kotoryy-ne-pokazhut-putinu-reportazh-iz-stolitsy-buryatii/32317172.html).
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