Russians desperate for Toilet Paper: Won’t you help?

Paul Goble reports:

In the latest test of the old notion that those in power can survive almost anything except being laughed at, environmental activists in Moscow and St. Petersburg plan to collect toilet paper for Vladimir Putin since he apparently feels Russia has too little of it and is prepared to allow Lake Baikal to be contaminated in order to produce more.

On March 27th “For Baikal,” a coalition of Russian public organizations that seek to defend that environmental wonder from being contaminated by the restarting of the Baikalsk paper mill on its shores, staged demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg to call attention to this issue.

The demands the group raised were not new. They seek to prevent the Baikalsk plant from sending waste products into Lake Baikal, to find alternative jobs for any workers displaced if the plant is closed permanently, and to prevent the burial of nuclear wastes in the region under the terms of a plan approved by Putin earlier this year. But in order to attract attention to their demands, organizers are calling on all those who will take back to bring not only “a good attitude” and posters or banners in defense of Lake Baikal but also “a roll of toilet paper” because Putin and his regime have suggested that the Baikalsk plant must be allowed to operate because Russia lacks enough of that essential product.

The organizers say that, in the course of the demonstrations, they will collect the toilet paper and hand it over to the powers that be so that the latter will not be “forced” to “destroy Baikal” in order to produce what Putin and his associates continue to insist Russians so badly need.

This use of humor to call attention to a very serious problem calls attention to two aspects of the current upsurge of protests in the Russian Federation that are often overlooked. On the one hand, Russians are going into the streets for a wide variety of issues (For a useful survey, click here). And on the other, they are becoming increasingly creative in the ways in which they are pressing their demands. In addition to the toilet paper campaign, Russians angry at the powers that be in Moscow in general and at Vladimir Putin’s policies in particular have employed two interesting tactics.

In the first case, opponents of the continued exploitation of the Sayano-Shushen hydro-electric dam have sent Putin an open letter in which they have proposed among other things that since he is so confident of the safety of that dam, he should commit himself to live in area that would be flooded if the dam broke. And in the second, supporters of jailed Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky have opened an exhibit of political cartoons about his incarceration and jail, cartoons that opposition leaders like Garri Kasparov and Boris Nemtsov say can spark laughter over “the theater of the absurd quality” of his case.

Whether laughter will be sufficient to force the Russian powers that be to change their policies remains to be seen, but once people begin to see such people as figures of fun, that alone will go a long way to transforming the political atmosphere into one in which the possibilities for the future will be different.

12 responses to “Russians desperate for Toilet Paper: Won’t you help?

  1. As in every society, those who think they know how to do, never do!!!

  2. “Opened an exhibit”-link does not work?

  3. Things can only get worse for the Kremlin.

    Shale gas estimates of future production are increasing almost by the hour. British buyers Ofgem are managing to continue to stiff British consumers, but this cannot last. Energy prices must continue to fall world wide.

  4. The Norwegians are heavily invested in American shale gas probably trying to learn the technology. Venezuela is so badly mismanaged that they do not count.

    None of the foregoing matter. It does not matter who produces the energy. Everyone benefits except natural gas investors (Ofgem).

    The Russians are too far from big markets as well as being unreliable and will be big losers.

    • If you can believe that shale gas will make the oil and gas prices to collapse – more power to you. Whatever gets you through the night, Ron.

      Over the past 35 years, so many “inventions” and developments have been heralded as the “energy panaceas” that I stopped listening to them long time ago: at about the same time I learned not to believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. Energy deposits are finite and will be depleted in the not-so-far future unless we somehow make nuclear energy safe and secure.

  5. USA in a short period of 4 years has stopped importing Liquid Natural Gas. The import terminal in Texas stands unused. The Marcelus formation near New England is now considered the 2nd largest gas field in the world.

    RTR: I think you are a natural gas speculator.

    They are all depressed.

    Shale gas bearing rock formations are 4,000 feet thick and spread for thousands of square miles. The only change is the ability to drill horizontally which changes everything.

    Oil prices will not decline immediately as energy is the biggest business in the world. GTO (gas to oil) is starting to come on. Nevertheless we all stand to benefit over time.

  6. RTR: I think you are a natural gas speculator.

    Thanks. I am a natural at everything I do.

    Nevertheless we all stand to benefit over time.

    From your mouth and into god’s ear. I will be very happy if the oil and gas prices reduce in the long-term.

  7. Wow! Still problems with the toilet paper..? I remember them quite well. What a lovely idea to use laughter! Please, remember to continue publicizing it. I may help too

  8. Спасибо за очень хорошую инфо. Любопытно, что делается сейчас в этом направлении.

    Я написала песню “Blue Heron” посвященную охране природы на двух языках, и с удовольствием поделюсь ею, чтобы привлечь внимание к проблеме в разных странах. Если найдуться желающие исполнять (с любым аккомпаниментом, вкл. гитарный/эстрадный/джазовый/итд – будем помогать исполнителям с англ. произношением по телефону и пр. поддержкой (интернет промо, концерты итд)
    (Music can help bringing attention to the problem, by speaking directly to the hearts of people. This song is dedicated to the issues of the environmental protection and int’l collaboration. For any interested performers, the tutoring in either Russian or English will be offered, as well as other support (publicity, incl. featuring on the website, social networks, int’l organizations, various media outlets, sponsors, concert venues etc.)

  9. Let’s inspire the Russian bureaucrats to make the tangible effort in environmental protection, such as the preservation of the unique lake BAIKAL. These actions will promote Russia’s good image throughout the world, demonstrating the wisdom and logical thought of its leaders, setting the good example for others to follow.
    Let’s start by singing this song together – join us and forward this song to your contact list:
    Давайте попробудем вдохновить российских чиновников на мероприятия по охране природы, которые их прославят по всему миру за их мудрость и зрдавый смысл. Мировому сообществу нужны примеры для подражания. Давайте все вместе споём песенку о Сизом Журавлике (а также НЕ ЗАБУДьТЕ ПЕРЕДАТь ЕЁ ВСЕМ В ВАШЕМ СПИСКЕ КОНТАКТОВ!):

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