—A group of young businessmen in their thirties joined the training for observers at the regional elections. "We have never tried it, but you keep doing it all the time. Let us have a go at observing as well!" I sent them out to polling stations, and they returned with the conclusion: "Now we know that elections in our city are not rigged. We have witnessed them with our own eyes and we are going to spread the word: there is finally some degree of trust towards state institutions." But these people do not want to have anything to do with politics. Not even one of them ran for city parliament last year, even though they could have well afforded it.
Irkutsk is a city of high culture, at least judging by bookstore queues. But our readers are changing. They made a conscious choice of refraining from elections. On 13 September
we had the lowest turnout in Russia. I see that the absentees are all decent, well-educated, culture-loving people. Not even one of them used their vote. My question was: "But how? You are among the regulars of the Grey Building
, you keep asking them for money." "Well, yes, we do ask, on the off chance they grant something, but that’s not the point." It was especially remarkable before the 1st of July
. We did several expert interviews, and every answer was the same, although in some cases I could not believe my ears: "Let's not talk about it!" This is the new civil stance. Unlike Khabarovsk
, Irkutsk does not have a rallying culture. The discussions are relegated to the kitchens: the talk is of books, culture, recent events. People are longing for action but they do not trust the authorities. Left to our own devices, we are trying to build intercultural bridges and cultural spaces.