By Paul Goble
On May 30, a group of Buryats went out into the streets on the 92nd anniversary of the formation of the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Republic, and demanded that the republic’s head be replaced and that both the republic government and Moscow focus on preventing the total collapse of Buryatia’s economy. The militia intervened and attempted to arrest several participants and take down their signs. Instead of being intimidated, other participants intervened, fought with the police, and forced the authorities to release those they had detained. The demonstrators were then able to put their banners up in the republic’s capital.
Moreover, the organizers of this demonstration have now scheduled two more, for June 7 and June 14. They have expanded their demands to include expanded ties with, and possible reunification of, the two Buryat autonomies in the Russian Federation that Vladimir Putin amalgamated with larger and predominantly Russian regions in 2005 and 2007, as well as greater control over the republic’s natural wealth. Because official actions have failed to intimidate the opposition, one of its members told the media that “Buryatia has already entered a revolutionary situation” (Asia Russia Daily