The state of alarm decreed by Putin spreads fear among the population of a restriction of movement throughout Russia | International
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As happened during the last years of tsarist power, Russia has entered a state of continuous alert that opens the door for its authorities to adopt extraordinary measures. President Vladimir Putin approved two decrees on Wednesday that will allow his regions to be closed by finger. Two years after the arrival of the pandemic, the threat now is not the coronavirus, but “the kyiv regime”, in the words of the president, who considered it a national urgency to take this step after outlining a catastrophic scenario with attacks on public places and nuclear power plants. Their governors, however, tried to calm the citizens by appearing after the Kremlin chief’s speech with promises that everything is fine and there is no need to impose any restrictions on movement. After decades of stability, a factor that the Russian authorities always emphasize, the fear of being isolated is beginning to be generalized among the population.
Putin’s decrees brought to mind the Statute of measures to protect the order of the State and public peace of 1881. This, approved after the assassination of Alexander II, introduced extraordinary measures for a short period of time, but lasted until the fall of the last czar. “A state of emergency was declared in 60 regions and martial law in 25, between 1905 and 1907. More than a generation grew up under this regime,” historian Guennadi Bordiugov described in an essay about that time.
Putin’s two orders establish de facto The whole country is in a state of alarm. The maximum level, martial law, was declared in the annexed Ukrainian provinces, contrary to international law, less than a month ago: Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. The next, “medium level of response”, affects Crimea, annexed in 2014, and the Russian regions bordering Ukraine. The third, “high readiness level”, applies to the Central and Southern districts of Russia, including Moscow. The rest of the country is on the fourth tier, “basic preparation level”.
For the Russian president, a huge threat hangs over his country. “Ukrainian special services organized the explosion of the Crimean bridge and we have stopped terrorist attacks in other regions of Russia, including in areas with a massive presence of people; and against transportation and energy facilities. And here I want to emphasize nuclear power plants,” Putin said.
However, the rest of the political ladder played down such threats. “No measures have been introduced at present that limit the pace of life in the city,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin hastened to write on his personal blog.
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The fear that nerves would be unleashed among its inhabitants also led the governor of Saint Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, to send them a message of calm despite the fact that his territory is at the lowest alert level. “Everything necessary will be done to improve the protection of infrastructures, but restrictive measures will not be introduced in the city,” said the senior official.
Great power to local authorities
The new law gives local authorities great power to restrict the movements of their citizens, including by preventing them from leaving the region; and to adopt “civil defense measures” and any other initiative that meets the needs of personnel and supplies of the Armed Forces.
One of the “medium response level” regions is Rostov. Its governor, Vasili Gólubev, also wanted to lower the tension with another message on his social networks. “I emphasize that there are no special changes for citizens. There is no prohibition of movement either within the region or abroad, ”wrote the high official, whose image has already been greatly damaged by the massive mobilization in his territory.
Golubev announced at the beginning of October that the recruitment had already ended, but the call of civilians to arms has continued to such an extent that the military commissariat explained a week ago that there has been “a continuation of the work” and not “a second wave of mobilization”.
Another of the regions included in the second level of response is Kursk. With the Z, the symbol of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, on his lapel and Putin’s portrait on the wall of his office, Governor Roman Starovoit recorded a statement for his citizens. “At the moment no new restrictions are introduced, including movement throughout the region and beyond. In the border areas (with Ukraine) there is a permit regime as before, ”he pointed out.
In others oblast (regions) of the Central District, such as Vladimir and Tambov, the message from both governors was also very similar. “All necessary measures will be taken to improve the security of civilian installations” and “it will not change the usual life in the region”, they both said.
As was the case during the pandemic, maps of the regions with the most and least risk of restrictions proliferated. One of them is Krasnodar, where the Sochi presidential residence is located. Asked by the Tass agency if this will affect the president’s work, his spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, was very explicit: “No.”
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