Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Moscow winter?

Following the example of the Arab Spring, will there be a Moscow Winter?

Young and Connected, ‘Office Plankton’ Protesters Surprise Russia
A mystery has been unfolding [in Moscow] over the past month, and office plankton [young professionals] are in the middle of it. A critical mass of young Russians decided this month that they had the power to alter the course of political events. They organized outside the channels of mainstream politics and took the country’s leadership by surprise, as other crowds have done this year in Israel, India, Spain and the United States.

No one can say how strong this burst of citizen activism will prove to be — whether it can recreate the crowd of 50,000 that gathered Dec. 10 in Moscow, let alone serve as the foundation of a permanent political force. But an impulse was released after December’s parliamentary elections, which were widely discredited as fraudulent. It has rippled out through Russia’s emerging middle class — wired, sophisticated urbanites like Mr. Terekhov’s employees — many of whom have decided, quite suddenly, that a political system they have long tolerated is intolerable…

A signal change has occurred already: Russia’s opposition movement is the realm of the young. Planning meetings, once held in the musty domain of perestroika-era dissidents, are now convened at Moscow’s most fashionable addresses, like the rehabilitated Red October chocolate factory. In a city obsessed with style, protest has become stylish...

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