“Fighting with State Deputy button pushers” (those who vote the way they are told to by their party)

Independent Novosibirsk City Council Deputy Natalia Pinus spent the last 3 summers running for office. What is that like for this mother of three, “… It is extraordinary, I sleep very little, 3–4 hours, I have a lot of energy, I work every single minute, I set priorities and I go. These are incredible times in my life, my usual regime is different.” Ever the multi-tasker, we meet in the café where her teenage daughter is a waitress.

Our peace group arrived in Minsk, the capitol city of Belorussia, on an endorphin high induced by three weeks of traveling around the Soviet Union training for the 1988 Moscow Peace Marathon. Four months earlier Mikhail Gorbachev signed an agreement for the Soviet Union to pull out of Afghanistan. A similar high was rippling across the US with perestroika, glasnost, and the possibility for a peace dividend and the end of the nuclear threat.

Minsk was our sixth and final training stop before heading to Moscow for the big race. In training terminology, this was to be the “cool down”…

PONARS Eurasia Online Workshop on Social Activism

Thanks to the PONARS scholars who so generously offered feedback that enlightened the piece.

Campaign materials for two non-systemic opposition candidates


The challenge facing the non-systemic opposition in Russia is how to grow. This article looks at the potential for growth through the prism of two Novosibirsk City Council Deputies who want major change but apply different governance styles. Sergey Boyko, Head of the Novosibirsk Navalny Headquarters, evokes a revolutionary strategy. This is manifest in both tone and objective to tear the system down as quickly as possible. Independent second term Deputy Natalia Pinus advocates evolution through a more…

Novosibirsk “Yuri (Gagarin first man in space) sorry, we will fix it” Photo: Liza Limanskaya MBX Media

What happened in the Russian regions week two of the “Navalny” protests? There were less protesters with a couple of exceptions (Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg that I know of), more cops and press everywhere, and more arrests. Young people were valiantly running around livestreaming protesters as they roamed or were being moved around their cities. In Vladivostok, an enterprising group fled to the ocean ice to be away from the land security personnel jurisdiction. They played songs including the viral Putin palace inspired “Aquadiscotek”.

Novosibirsk marching (Photo Alexander Osepkov)

To the great relief of anyone paying attention, there were no big surprises in the January 23 “Navalny Protests” in Russia. Everybody did their job, the people who wanted to protest protested, the events from around the country were live-streamed on You Tube, and covered extensively on Facebook, and Telegram, and VK, some people were arrested (4002 according to OVD-Info) but the omnipresent security personnel did not interfere with the protesters movement. It was not a kumbaya scene everywhere. There was some aggressive behavior on the part of police and protesters, most notably in Moscow and St. Petersburg. But, overall…

Photo: ГТРК Горный Алтай

Russia was the first to launch a COVID vaccine program this week in Moscow. Named in honor of another Russian first, the Earth orbit satellite, Sputnik V is free and officially available only to medical, education, and social workers. A two-step process, the vaccine shot is followed 21 days later by a booster.

New York Times coverage included a story, “The Kremlin Is Offering Russians Free Vaccines, but Will They Take Them?” Below the headline in bold print, “Distrust of the government is so widespread that 59 percent of Russians say they have no intention of getting a shot.” The…

You know it’s COVID when you see usually two people in hazmat suits up front (photo Ria.ru)

And who by fire, who by water
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial
Who in your merry merry month of may
Who by very slow decay
And who shall I say is calling?
Leonard Cohen

The second wave of COVID 19 in Siberia is a whole other beast than what came before. That can be said about anywhere in Russia with the addition of the slight dread here that this time winter, not summer, is around the corner. The first wave was all about numbers and rumors that some…

Navalny family in the German Clinic (photo Reuters from Voice of America)

Despite four years of non-stop coverage of Russian election meddling and a dismal US track record of picking “regime change” winners (Chalilbi, Guido etc.), the media drumbeat spin promoting a stupid thing is gaining momentum. On November 8 the New York times noted that Biden sees Russia as one of America’s biggest security threats and “Even as the Kremlin stayed mum… Mr. Putin’s staunchest domestic opponent — the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny — offered well-wishes on Twitter to Mr. …

Siberian Millennial Professionals

After a six hour drive, the designer cocktail for the evening was Lynchburg Lemonade (heavy on the Bulleit Bourbon) along with white wine and beer. This followed a take out pizza dinner and prosecco toasts. These 12 programmers, data scientists, and managers (3 women and 9 men) work for the largest financial services company in Siberia. Fresh air and nature on the banks of the Katun River in Altai . Tomorrow a walk on the river bank, evening tequila cocktails and dancing to tunes on demand from Alisa (Russian Yandex Siri). The day after that, a ski lift to the…

September 13, Election Day at the House of Scientists Akademgorok Polling Place

In Part One I explored the idea being promoted that City Council elections in Novosibirsk, the 3rd largest city in Russia, are the key to the future of Russian elections. The reasons for Novosibirsk as a bellweather are its independent streak as manifest by a Communist Mayor and the lack of a “system” for controlling the outcome. Add to this all 50 deputies are popularly elected, a wide range of candidates were running, and while the typical grab bag of dirty tricks were in full force, there was plenty of opportunity for candidates to get their message out. One more…

Sarah Lindemann-Komarova

Has lived in Siberia since 1992. Was a community development activist for 20 years. Currently, focuses on research and writing.

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