The May 6th Rally, 2013

Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by AKarlin, May 6, 2013.

  1. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    After a little "warm-up" this Sunday, Moscow is going to be the scene for a large-scale opposition rally on the one year anniversary of the May 6, 2012 clashes that led to the arrests of the "Bolotnaya 28" and their ongoing convictions. Some people see them as common hooligans, others as prisoners of conscience.

    What do you think? If you were in Moscow, would you attend? How many people do you think will turn up?

    Based on the fact that attendance at these events was already plummeting* by March 2012 after Putin was reelected, falling to 10K/23K/26K/30K by then from a peak of up to 100K during the February rally at Prospekt Sakharova, I expect this event to be one of those where only the "hardcore" faction of the Moscow oppositionists - aka 10,000-20,000 or so of them - attend.

    Here is a website organized by the "Committee of 6th May" to promote the event and the cause of the Bolotnaya 28. (h/t Moscow Exile)
  2. Sevan

    Sevan Citizen

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    Would the reduction in numbers have anything to do with Putin successfully addressing the issues with corruption? (he's done a lot of cleaning recently) Or were the numbers higher previously due to people attending out of interests rather than being a genuine opposition member. There will always be opposition, to any government in the world. It doesn't make sense why the Western press highlights Moscow rallies when these rallies occur in Western countries on a regular basis (violent too). It's all part and parcel of a functioning democracy, people are entitled to voice their opinions. It's only when there are protests in Russia or other non-traditional US allies that the Western media create a fuss.

    You don't hear them even mention the violent reaction to peaceful rallies in Bahrain that continues till today.
  3. Vostok

    Vostok Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    I only attended the February rally to see what it was about (Was not the only one). Have not bothered since. I believe 25-30k will attend this one, it has some momentum.

    [​IMG] :rolleyes:
  4. Vostok

    Vostok Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    I believe it was the latter, in regards to corruption (Bureaucrats banned from possessing foreign shares, bank accounts and other types of assets), Putin had no choice but to act this way if he wanted to maintain his high approval ratings. Over 66% of the population supported these actions according to Levada.
  5. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    So by the law that governs such numbers, that means real attendance was around 15,000, or "aka 10,000-20,000." :)
  6. jenskaj

    jenskaj Citizen

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    What is driving these protests? Surely putin should do something about these issues? i'd like a response from authorities/putin or is this just the usual hippy crap?
  7. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    What's driving them? Statistics, I'd say. Moscow has more than 10 million people. Of those, perhaps 25% have oppositionist views (this is Moscow after all, not Russia) - and 1% of those reliably come to protests.

    PS. Here is a translation of Navalny's speech. I have to admit that it is quite moving, even if I don't share his political views.
  8. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    “We must transform every smoking area into a forum for ideological struggle.”

    This is one of his listed points that Gudkov read out to the crowd assembled at Bolotnaya yesterday evening, which indicates a certain detachment on Gudkov's part from reality, not least because smoking areas in public places will soon be illegal.

    A remarkable act of prescience by Putin, perhaps, in the implementation of his "crackdown" policy.
  9. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I have given my views about protests in Moscow in many places.

    There is a protest community in Moscow. It numbers around 20,000 people. That is about the number of people who the non system opposition can call out on a good day.

    That is not the same as the total number of people in Moscow who have oppositionist/liberal views. The proportion of Muscovites with liberal views accounts for just under a fifth of the Moscow electorate as shown by the 18.5% who voted for Yavlinsky in 2000 and the 19.5% who voted for Prokhorov in 2012. Most liberal minded people in Moscow do not support the non system opposition (though they may sometimes express some sympathy for it) but vote for mainstream non revolutionary liberal parties such as Yabloko and for mainstream non revolutionary politicians such as Prokhorov and Yavlinsky. They do not support the non system opposition whose intentions are straightforwardly revolutionary and which wants (or says it wants) to overthrow the government whose legitimacy it does not recognise.

    What happened was that for a very brief period following the parliamentary elections in December 2011, a (very small) proportion of the liberal mainstream together with some KPRF supporters joined protests against the election results that were organised by the non system opposition. The result was a brief increase in the turnout of the protests beyond the 20,000 or so who form the protest community and who support the non system opposition. By February 2012 these people who support mainstream opposition parties however peeled away, in large measure because they do not identify with or support the revolutionary language and politics of the protest organisers who come from the non system opposition.

    This is something that is very familiar to those who have experience of protest in the west. In the west as in Russia there are brief moments when the usual protest community that is to be found in all capitals is joined on a particular issue by elements of the wider public. Since the leaders of the protest community however retain control of the protests, what invariably happens is that is that after a time the protest wave melts away because the bulk of the protesters do not identify and are often put off by the extreme and radical language they hear from the speakers' platform. A classic example is the disintegration of the anti war movement in Britain following the big protest in February 2003.

    The result is that once the mainstream protesters peeled away in February 2012 all the protests in Moscow have been limited to the protest community and have been stuck at the 20,000 or so who make it up, give or take a few thousand on a particular day. Politically speaking the key moment was the Prospekt Sakharova protest on 24th December 2011 when the KPRF representatives were prevented by the protest organisers from speaking from the platform. This excluded what is still by far Russia's biggest opposition party from any role in the protest. Whatever moral value that might have had, it was an act that cut off the protest movement from the opposition mainstream and which ensured that it would fizzle out.

    The 20,000 people who form the Moscow protest community were there before December 2011, with many of them being young people. The reason they were not so visible before is not because of any increase in support for the non system opposition since December 2011 but because of a change in tactics in that month. Previously the non system opposition had scorned to hold authorised protests. After December 2011 they agreed to do so. The great majority of members even of the protest community are not prepared to attend unauthorised protests despite all of the revolutionary sloganizing. When the non system opposition has attempted to hold unauthorised protests both before and after December 2011 the turnout has never numbered more than a few hundred (a possible exception being the opposition rally on 5th December 2011 for which however there were special reasons). It is the fact that the non system opposition has chosen since December 2011 (in defiance of the views of certain of its members such as Limonov) to opt for authorised protests that has enabled it to turn out in full force and to make visible its true numbers. Obviously the change of government in Moscow from Luzhkov to Sobyanin and the more lenient policy towards protests of the latter has played a key role in this.

    It follows from this that the anti corruption drive has had no effect on the numbers who attend protests. Given that we are talking about people with revolutionary attitudes who deny the legitimacy of the government, an anti corruption drive is no more likely to impress them than the outcome of a democratic election (such as the one Putin won in March 2012) is.

    There is nothing unique about Moscow having a protest community of revolutionary minded individuals who deny the legitimacy of the government. These exist in all major European capitals. Similar numbers of such people are to be found in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Brussels, Athens, Madrid and London. From my own experience there are quite a lot of such people in New York as well. In all these cities such people demonstrate on a regular basis on a variety of issues just as they do in Moscow. Numbers are similar and the rhetoric is equally fiery. The only difference is that unlike in Moscow, when these sort of people demonstrate in western capitals they attract little attention. Far from being a symptom of crisis it is a sign of what a normal country Russia has in so many ways already become, that it has in its capital a protest community of this sort, which is able to demonstrate with so little trouble and which the authorities have handled so calmly and with such skill.
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  10. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Before the 2011/2012 mass anti-government and election fraud protest rallies in Moscow ("unprecedented" rallies, as Western journalists often label them - another lie), the core of the mostly young Moscow protest community could most often be witnessed at their 31st day of the month escapades at Triumfalnaya Square, which demonstrations were ostensibly about article 31 of the Russian constitution that guarantees freedom of assembly.

    Those that attended these protests were more than willing to be arrested, that's why they assembled there, as the site was repeatdly prohibited for protest - and for a very good reason: the square, apart from being situated at a major city centre road junction (for those of you that are acquainted with London, I always compare Triumfalnaya with Oxford Circus), was also undergoing major reconstruction (the Garden Ring passes under Moscow's main street, Tverskaya, at Triumfalnaya). Moscow City authorities had time and time again offered the "31" protesters alternative venues where they could freely voice their displeasure concerning their perceived breach of article 31. The alternative sites were always refused, guaranteeing a confrontation with the authorities.

    All this reflects the naivety of the "31" protesters, in that in their utopian fantasy world they believe that one should be free to do whatever one wants any time, any place. That's what they believe democracy is about: that's how they think people behave in the "free world". It also shows that despite the endless rantings of the likes of the UK Guardian's Harding and others of his ilk concerning police "brutality" in Moscow, those that went to Triumfalnaya had no fear whatsoever of such alleged "brutality" in that they went there in order to be arrested. After their arrests, the protesters were "processed" and released from local police stations in a few hours as they had been arrested for breach of "administrative law". No doubt, any food that they might have been given whilst locked up may have been unsavoury (something that Kasparov once vehemently complained about to journalists: the assault on the poor dear's sensitivities was apparently remedied by his having food brought in to the police station); doubtless there may have been minor injuries to some that were inflicted during their resistance to arrest. And these arrests were always witnessed by the army of photo-journalists that appeared at the "31" demos, which media people sometimes appeared to outnumber the protesters themselves. And it was for the benefit of these journalists that the whole show was organized.

    I witnessed on several occasions these Triumfalnaya pantomimes, as I used to work nearby. I never heard one word of support for these protesters from Muscovites who were trying to go home from work. As explained above, the protests caused great traffic congestion and at Triumfalnaya are also situated entrances to Mayakovskaya metro station.

    A few weeks ago it was announced that the reconstruction of Triumfalnaya had at last been completed. I shall, therefore, be very interested to see what happens on the 31st of this month, for I should imagine that the city authorities may very well grant the "31" protesters permission to assemble at Triumfalnaya if they should wish to do so. And if that be the case, will the "31" organizers accept this offer, or will they demand the right to demonstrate at some other place, knowing full well that their request will be denied, which refusal, after all, will be the whole point of their childish exercise?
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  11. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    How could I have missed this? Kashin singing (keep a vice at hand for your head):

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