Nastya Minkova, MYPLACE. researcher in Russia sends this blog on what may be the last days of protest against Russian election results.
For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE
A mass street action called “March of Millions-2” took place on the 12th of June in Moscow. Those who participated in the protest meetings after Parliamentary and Presidential Elections took part in this march. The number of demonstrators is dubious as always. The average number that is more likely to be true is 40 thousand people (http://newsru.com/pict/big/1478276.html) . Probably, this action will be the last mass street protest and there are several reasons for that.
The first reason is a sharp increase of fines for people who hold protests . The new ‘Street protests law’ was hastily passed by the goverment just a few days before the action. Both of the Houses of Parliament lawmakers that were against the increase of fines were in a minority. Here are the photos given by “Novaya Gazeta” (http://www.novayagazeta.ru/photos/52951.html) . Human rights activists , lawyers and journalists have already called these amendments anticonstitutional. But seems like no one paid attention to them and Vladimir Putin and his press-secretary considered this law corresponding to the European norms of policing durning mass street actions.
The leaders of the protest movement experienced these changes most of all – just before the “March of Millions” their houses were searched by police. Police officers removed the oppositioners’ computers, telephones, and money. After that they also searched their parents’ homes. Here are Navalny’s photos of his appartment where the search was conducted as well. (http://www.novayagazeta.ru/photos/53029.html). Ksenia Sobchak was deprived of a big sum of money – police is also investigating the source of this money. The next day, on the 12th of June, all of them were ordered to appear for questioning in the Investigative Committee. Navalny, Sobchak and Yashin spent around 5-6 hours there and were late for the “March of Millions”. Sergey Udaltsov was the only one who ignored the police order and headed the demonstrators’ column.
The second reason is that the protest movement is going to decline. This can be due to the fact that the leaders have used the same rhetoric since the very first actions. The mottos “Russia without Putin”, “Putin to be retired” became common. It is quite obvious that neither Putin, nor the Parliament won’t agree to be re-elected. The initial feeling of injustice had to be changed by new orders and the programme of actions. However, nothing happened. The mood of the protest changed, and this is obvious after the last march – many people point to the small number of banners which content was no longer so cheerful as it was in winter. Here are the photos of the “Ridus” agency (http://www.ridus.ru/news/36264/).
The protesters’ serious determination was a response to the radical reaction of Kremlin. The columns of LGBT, Pussy Riots activists, anarchists, nationalists, “Spravedliavaya Rossiya”, “Yabloko” representatives, academic and research workers, pensioners participated in the march. After the first “March of Millions” on the 6th of May when the police officers were fiercely breaking up the participants of the action, the demonstrators were prepared for any provocations. The speech from the stage was made supporting the 13 people accused of the clashes on the 6th of May and are under arrest now. Unfortunately, nothing new was mentioned on this meeting. By all accounts, people’s mood can be characterized as more apathetic, as journalists say. The next mass action will take place as early as October only.
Here is the concise chronology of the latest protests in Russia.
December 2011 – February 2012: a series of mass protests in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and other big cities. 50-80 thousand people gather together on the capital’s squares at the weekends being outraged by the falsifications of the Parliamentary elections results.
March 2012 – May 2012: Vladimir Putin wins Presidential elections. Before his inauguration (May, 7) protest activities keep going on even though it has a smaller number of participants. An unexpectably hight number of people (even for the organisers) take part in the “March of Millions” on the 6th of May. There are clashes between people and the police, hundreds of detained, victims from the both sides.
June 2012 – …: protest activity is going to the end. The government made a number of actions targeted against the leaders of opposition as well as active participants of the movement.