For the first time in the years of Putin’s power in Russia is faced with a situation where against it set the majority of the population.
The whole hierarchy of modern Russian government is kept at a high personal popularity of Vladimir Putin. Her fall will inevitably lead to the destruction of the entire political system, and therefore any attack on the image of the President traditionally suppressed with particular ferocity.
Now the most painful issue for the government – the personal responsibility of Vladimir Putin’s unpopular pension initiatives and the consequences of that. That is why the protest, appointed by the headquarters of Alexei Navalny on September 9, from the very beginning aroused the wrath of the authorities because, in contrast to the “systemic opposition”, Navalny immediately headed for the direct identification of Putin and pension reform.
In the end of the 83 applications for street actions filed in different cities of Russia, agreed there were only two, Alexey Navalny and two-thirds of the heads of its staffs in the regions were behind bars already the day before, and the 9 of September was detained almost all remaining by the time the freedom of the organizers of the protests and many rank and file activists of the campaign headquarters of Navalny.
The protesters – many of them or few?
The biggest mistake you can make when discussing the protests in Russia – to reduce everything to the arithmetic count of the number of citizens who took part in them. This approach is beneficial only to the authorities – after all, how many people would not come out to protest, against the total number of inhabitants of Russia still get a little.
But what’s the point to compare the incomparable value? The majority of the population of Russia – as indeed any other country – passive and apolitical. Moreover, even those who are interested in politics, are still pinning their hopes on electoral procedures or choose not to participate in any street protests, quite rightly fearing reprisals from the authorities. Unlike European countries, as well as from Ukraine, Armenia or Georgia, the legislation and the more zakonodatelnoe practice in Russia did not encourage participation in such events, and Vice versa – create a lot of legal opportunities to spoil their participants with life.
To be fair, the number of protesters, the Bulk is generally not something to compare other forces able to bring to the streets a noticeable amount of people in dozens of regions simultaneously under anti-Putin slogans, Russia simply does not have.
From the “systemic opposition” regarding the mass action holds only the Communist party, but for all that preferential treatment, which she enjoys, its shares can not boast of any particular mass or geographical scale: for concerted and quite secure of the event of the Communists coming almost fewer people than the uncoordinated actions of Navalny. Incidentally, this should make you think what could have achieved his team if they could participate in elections, to have a faction in the State Duma and easy to use all the possibilities for legal political work.
The geography of the protests is growing
The headquarters of Navalny estimates the total number of participants of protest actions on September 9 at 60-80 thousand people. Protests were held in 83 settlements of Russia, including the capital, most regional centers and all cities. According to the estimates of human rights defenders, were detained more than 1,000 people, which in itself is very revealing.
9 September were organized by Navalny protests against raising the retirement age. Why it was again followed by teenagers – duty members of his rallies?
Expanding the geography of the protests 2017-2018 and especially the participation in them of small and medium towns – that’s the most important and interesting figure. In contrast to the purely ideological confrontation of the democratic public and the authorities in 2011-2012, is now the driving force behind the protest becomes a social factor. The country’s leadership takes actions in an obvious way which could affect the lives of a significant part of the population, and thereby causing even the most loyal ideologically citizens to look at the situation in the country through the lens of their private interests.
Relationship with Vladimir Putin, the Russian people entered a new stage where the main emphasis is not on love and trust from the majority of the population, and on people’s fear of reprisals and the final elimination of even a theoretical possibility to change anything on turned into a meaningless ritual elections.
To go to protest in Russia is more dangerous, though the reasons for them, and compassion on the part of the population – more and more. Russian and global history are taught that this situation cannot continue indefinitely: in the end it passes through threats and reprisals, a network of activists headed to the mass protests and overthrows of regimes that seemed unbreakable.
Such a network of activists in Russia already there, and luckily, this time it’s not left-wing radicals, and people with completely different, Pro-European and rather liberal views on politics and the future of Russia.
Fyodor Krasheninnikov, “Deutsche Welle”
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