The bedrock of Vladimir Putin's political strength has always been the periphery the sector that is resentful and jealous of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
However,after the southern Russian town of Krymsk bore the brunt of the weekend flood disaster that appears to have killed over 200 people, its residents are up in arms over the system and are not satisfied with placing the blame on local low-level officials.
They claim that they were not warned about the impending flood situation. Rumors have begun circulating that the authorities emptied a reservoir in order to protect the much larger Novorossisk. Another rumor was that officials, instead of warning the ordinary people, drove their fancy cars to safe areas.
Attempts by officialdom to stifle such accusations on the Internet have only reinforced beliefs that a cover-up is taking place. The officials claim that they warned the residents in various ways, including text messaging, but the surviving residents claim they did not receive any warning and that not even the alarms on police vehicles and other emergency services were activated.
Officials blamed torrential rains, but residents deny that unusual precipitation occurred.
Putin's reaction was to appear to take charge by flying over the stricken area to assess the damage. He promised reconstruction, as well as compensation of up to $60,000, to families of the flood victims. He also declared a national day of mourning
The opposition also came down to the area as a token of solidarity and made an attempt to provide assistance but also to focus blame on the regime. Sergei Mitrokhin of the liberal Yabloko party claimed on twitter that those victims who were willing to declare that they had received advance warning of the flood were receiving more generous compensation.
The opposition is zeroing in on the governor of the Krasnodar region, Alexander Tkachev, a former member of the Communist Party who moved over to Putin's United Russia party. He became very chummy with Putin and received lavish construction budgets.
Despite previous cases of severe flooding and fatalities, he did not come up with a decent flood warning system in over ten years of office. United Russia spokespersons bitterly rejected calls for the governor's dismissal, claiming that they were cheap attempts to make political capital out of a tragic situation.