Staunton, September 11 – The FSB is spreading stories claiming that Ukrainian nationalists are behind the protests of Kuban farmers and may soon do the same with the tractor drivers’ march as well, an obvious effort to discredit these popular movements as well as an indication of Moscow’s concern about them.
The tractor drivers said on Friday that if they will expand their protest throughout Russia if the demands of the Kuban farmers are not met (rosbalt.ru/russia/2016/09/09/1548909.html). Apparently to forestall that possibility, the FSB has come up with this story, Newsader.com reports (newsader.com/29959-kubanskikh-fermerov-obvinili-v-svyazyakh/).
But there is another possible explanation as well, one that Newsader.com doesn’t mention and it is even more worrisome: any suggestion that Ukrainians are trying to influence domestic Russian affairs could spark an upsurge in anti-Ukrainian feelings among Russians and be used by the Kremlin to justify a new wave of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
One tractor driver, who was detained for ten days that that FSB officers told him that he was “a traitor to the motherland” because “Ukrainian nationalists had given” the drivers money. Such statements are not true, the driver said, but undoubtedly some Russians are prepared to believe them.
Another farmer said that the FSB and other force agencies had been putting pressure on the farmers and tractor drivers and that “FSB officers were searching for foreign citizens,” clearly in the hopes of coming up with evidence for the links between the Russian protesters and Ukraine that they claim exist.
And a third activist said that the Russian police who had detained him charged him with having links to “’the fifth column’” and having “’sold out’” to the enemies of Russia. He said that such charges are untrue noting that “we have never gotten involved in politics,” despite official pressure on the movement.