News / Europe

Russia’s Democracy Movement Faces a Test of Strength Saturday

A giant anti-Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin billboard set up by the opposition Solidarity movement on a building, left, which faces the Kremlin, right, is seen in downtown Moscow on February 1, 2012.
A giant anti-Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin billboard set up by the opposition Solidarity movement on a building, left, which faces the Kremlin, right, is seen in downtown Moscow on February 1, 2012.
James Brooke

Russia’s democracy movement plans its first big march of the year on Saturday. But, Russia’s opposition faces something stronger than the Kremlin - the Russian winter.

On Saturday, one month before Russians vote for president, Russia’s democracy movement is to hold a mass march through downtown Moscow. It will be the first big rally of the New Year.

Alexei Makarkin, director of the Center for Political Technologies, sees it as a major test of strength.

He says that if the turnout is large, the Kremlin will have to continue to offer concessions to the opposition movement. If the turnout is small, the Kremlin will believe it is weathering the storm.

The Kremlin’s biggest ally may be "General Frost" - an Arctic cold front that is parked over Moscow. Thursday night, five people froze to death in Russia’s capital. In neighboring Ukraine, 100 people have died of cold in recent days.

To adapt, protest organizers cut the march to two kilometers, and told speakers to shorten their speeches. But cold weather is nothing new for Russians, and about 30,000 people have signed on social networks to join the march.

Maxim Trudolubov, editorial page editor of the newspaper, Vedomosti, says turnout is key because the Kremlin only responds to street pressure:

He says that while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has not entered into a dialogue with the democracy movement, his operatives closely watch the size - and the slogans - of the demonstrations.

The Kremlin is holding a counter rally on Saturday, about five kilometers away. The theme is “anti-Orange protest” and the logo includes a fist squeezing an orange snake. This is a reference to the Orange Revolution - a series of street demonstrations that reversed Ukraine’s tainted presidential elections seven years ago.

The Kremlin’s protest seems to lack spontaneity.

Moscow’s media carry complaints from state employees - teachers, nurses, and post office workers - that they have been ordered to attend. After a state human rights council opened an anonymous hotline for teachers, 140 calls came in.

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church warned believers this week to beware the protest movement. Noting the chaos caused by the 1917 Communist revolution, he said: “Remember that the loudest yells, the most piercing words, are not always the proper, true and honest ones.”

In an apparent attempt to cut student attendance at opposition protests, Moscow schools will hold a career training day on Saturday.

Mikhail Dmitriev, president of the Center for Strategic Research, warns that, because of a high concentration of universities in Moscow, about one-third of the city’s adult population is aged between 20 and 30.

"You must be aware of the enormous potential for political violence there is in this country today," he said. "It is not much different than the Arab Spring."

He says this group is increasingly politically aware and increasingly demands political liberalization. He says the Kremlin fears that a march of 30,000 people in February's Arctic temperatures could transform into a march of 100,000 in April, springtime in Moscow.

Shift in Attitudes in Yekaterinburg, Russia:


You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid