Soviet Power and the Destruction of Nature

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Andy Bruno is an Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University where he specializes in the environmental history of modern Russia. He is the author of The Nature of Soviet Power: An Arctic Environmental History.

Opening Commentary:

I want to draw listeners’ attention to two recent stories in Russia that concern local social and economic struggles in the regions. The first is about a tractor protest staged by farmers from Krasnodar. They plan was to drive a convoy of trackers to Moscow in protest against the seizure of local farmland by big agribusiness. As Alexei Volchenko, one of the rally’s organizers, told RBC:

“The large agricultural holding companies take land away from farmers and shareholders, and basically bring [the rural areas] to their knees, because the villages live on the money farmers spend, while the agricultural holdings are all registered as offshore companies in Cyprus and so on.”

They got as far as Rostov before about 100 cops blocked their convoy.

The second story concerns miners from Rostov, several of whom have been on a hunger strike to protest not having been paid since June 2015. Their company King Coal owes 2200 employees over 330 million rubles. The miners protest in front of King Coal headquarters daily.

I hesitate to make any claims as to whether these two events represent anything besides snapshots into how some Russians are experiencing the economic crisis. Most struggles in Russia remain local even when they speak to national conditions. I do want to stress that you won’t learn about such stories by focusing on Putin and seeking a revival of Kremlinology as some of our esteemed Russia analysts suggest.


Deltron 3030, “Things You Can Do,” Deltron 3030, 2000.

Dramarama, “It’s Still Warm,” Box Office Bomb, 1989.