Date: 23 April 2018

Kremlin, FSB and the war on waste in the background

A growing number of protests in Moscow Oblast against the storage of hazardous waste is becoming more and more political. Governor Andrey Vorobev has some noticeable problems in coping with the situation. It is not only the case of Volokolamsk, where gas masks were even issued to people. Political struggles in the area known as Podmoskovye show how the entire regime functions. To intimidate local civil servants, important people from the Kremlin and Lubyanka are used.


Aleksandr Shestun, the Governor of Serpukhov District in Moscow Oblast, published a video recording, in which he appeals to President Vladimir Putin, complaining about high officials who seek his resignation. Shestun claims that Andrey Vorobev, the Governor of Moscow Oblast, is behind the action against him. Shestun was supposed to make himself unpopular by for instance giving his consent to the protests of residents demanding the closure of a landfill site. Threats and demands for his resignation came from Andrey Yarin, the Chief of the Presidential Domestic Policy Directorate, Ivan Tkachev, the Head of the “K” Department of the FSB, and Mikhail Kuznetsov, the Head of the Administration of the Governor of Moscow Oblast. Shestun published the records of these talks.

The situation brings mostly Tkachev into disrepute. Firstly, the FSB officer of this rank allowed himself to be recorded by the local civil servant. Secondly, it turned out that regardless of holding a formal position, Tkachev can be used by officials in local power games. Before Ivan Tkachev took the position of the Head of the “K” Economic Security Service Board of the FSB (counter-intelligence in the banking and financial sector), he had been in charge of the famous 6th Internal Security Service Board of the FSB, called “the Sechin’s Spetsnaz”.

The conflict over the landfill site in Serpukhov is not the only one and it is probably not the most important cause of the conflict between Vorobev and Shestun. At this moment, however, it might draw Putin’s attention to the protests, which have been lasting for weeks, of the residents of several towns near Moscow, where local waste is held. Volokolamsk is the most talked about case, because it is a place where gases are being emitted on a huge landfill site and the increased levels of hydrogen sulphide and other harmful substances have been reported more than once. Even though Governor Vorobev promised to close the landfill site in the near future, the regime represses the leaders of social protests, for example by detaining somebody for a few or more then few days under any pretext.

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