Siberia: Boronin, the brave politician from the Altaj Mountains
Candidate for the State Duma for the opposition party Russia Just. "Putin lives in his empyrean, but we are dealing with the problems of real people." Claims Naval'nyj has made mistakes, but many of his projects should be supported.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The head of the City Council of Sibirsk, a small village in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, is running in by-elections for a deputy seat in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament. Oleg Boronin will run on the list of Russia Just, a moderate opposition party that makes the fight against corruption its main political goal.
"Putin lives in his empyrean, but we have to deal with the problems of real people," says the pugnacious head of the village in the center of Russia's endless Asian territories in a long interview with Ksenja Smoljakova on Radio Svoboda. Despite being a small provincial leader, Boronin is well known throughout the country for his clamorous protest initiatives, independent of any organized group.
Twice he has announced hunger strikes in order to force regional authorities to roll out maintenance of public heating, which is a basic necessity in his lands. He has obtained the power to administer taxes at a municipal level according to the law, and has repeatedly managed to convince the provincial parliament to approve his proposals, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of deputies belong to the majority Putinist party, United Russia.
In the last electoral rounds, the authorities have eliminated many candidates close to the Naval'nyj movement from the lists, as well as imposing other forms of discrimination against the oppositions, but Boronin has managed to resist.. He recalls that "we live in Russia, where history has developed amidst continuous repression, not only in the years 1920-30, but since the 17th century and even earlier." The Siberian politician explains that this "on the one hand formed in the people a servile consciousness, but on the other hand also an inner rebellion in ordinary people."
Boronin does not dwell on individual measures, or on laws against "foreign agents", he only states that discrimination should not be accepted: "We must reject it first of all in our hearts and minds".
The candidate of Just Russia believes that "any form of protest which is possible by law, must have positive aims for the people, and the leaders of these actions must always be responsible for all the people they involve".
Unlike Naval'nyj himself, whom he admires, and other charismatic figures, the rocky politician from the Altai insists almost alone on his idea of "constructive opposition". When the authorities sanctioned him for taking people to the streets, many criticized him for not standing up to them and serving time in community service. "But I had really pushed them to demonstrate," he had said at the time, "it's not like I could say I was just passing by; I don't need protests that don't achieve anything.
Boronin admires Gandhi's philosophy of protest, when a leader takes moral responsibility for his people for purposes that interest everyone: "Today we lack clear and shared objectives, this is what I want to work on, otherwise all protests end up in nothing, even without repression". Russia, in his opinion, suffers from political centralism, but even more from authoritarianism in the social and economic field, and that is where we must really fight, rather than taking it out on Putin directly. He compares the current period of Russian history to the time of Stalin, "when the power struggle had obvious motivations, it was necessary to completely rebuild the country", while in Brezhnev's time "it was only the internal feud at the top of the Communist Party, and the dissidents were romantic bohemmians".
The story of Aleksej Naval'nyj leaves Boronin in a divided state of mind: "He really did some illegal things and deserved to be condemned, and here we know it well, because they were speculations on the timber of the Altaj forests. But they gave him four years for four woods, while others much worse got off with fines". As a politician, Boronin points out, one cannot ignore Aleksej, one of the most important phenomena of Russian social life in the last decade, adding that many of his projects must be supported.
The Siberian politician throws himself into the electoral contest without fearing either the powerful or the false propagandists, "simulacra of the opposition" as he also calls the communists of the KPRF. He will not be able to change Russia by himself, but his voice must be heard, of a man really close to the people and to their needs.