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Protests With Meaning
In Moscow, a Show of Real Courage and Clarity

In contrast to the doomed-to-fail frivolity of the People’s Climate March, an important demonstration took place in Moscow over the weekend. The New York Times:

Thousands of Russians marched through Moscow on Sunday in an antigovernment demonstration criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin for what they saw as his warmongering in Ukraine.

It was the first large-scale public demonstration against Mr. Putin since March, and one that brought out a sizable but often silent minority of Mr. Putin’s critics despite the patriotic fervor that has seized Russia since his annexation of Crimea in March.

“I am disturbed that Russia is fueling a war in Ukraine,” said Sergey Arefov, a lawyer who had attended opposition rallies here before. “I believe it is very dangerous for us and for Europe.” […]

“I came here just to convince myself that I wasn’t alone,” said Tatyana Nestretsova, an accountant.

The Russian liberal core of middle class protesters has been largely marginalized in Russian public life since 2011–12, when tens of thousands protested against Vladimir Putin’s power grab in the parliamentary elections. But laws were quickly drawn up to leash the protestors, and the din of nationalist propaganda emanating from Putin’s PR machine throughout the Ukraine crisis drowned out opposition voices. Putin himself has characterized the opposition as traitorous foreign agents.

Never a true mass movement—even during the opposition’s heyday, Putin skillfully managed to portray himself as a protector of traditionalism against forces that sought to bring Russia low—Russia’s liberals were taking significant personal risks to demonstrate this weekend given the national mood. Even if their protests don’t change things, they represent a show of real courage and clarity.

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  • rheddles

    Russia’s liberals have been taking risks since the days of the Okhrana. Without effect. Putin is the protector of traditionalism. He is autocrat of all Russia. If Russia has not been able to make an iota of progress in a century and a half of turmoil and effort, how long will it take us to realize the same of Dar al Islam?

    • Alex K.

      Russian liberals, among other things, designed and implemented the great legal reform of 1864, which gave Russia trial by jury and the adversarial system. It is estimated that from the 1860s until 1917, about 75% of all criminal cases were tried by juries. In contrast, modern Russia only allows jury trials only for the most serious charges while some EU countries either have no jury trials at all (Germany) or have pseudo-juries with a mixed inquisitorial-adversarial process (Italy).

      The Okhranka never cared much about liberals because its target were revolutionaries, especially their terrorist factions.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Putin wouldn’t be engaged in expanding Russia’s borders if the weakest President in US history Obama wasn’t in office.

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