Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dissent is not the same as effective opposition

In Putin's Russia, allowing a few thousand people to demonstrate in a few isolated areas of a few cities doesn't threaten the government. It might offer the impression of a free civil society (procedural democracy). Is it real?

March to remember murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov
Thousands of Russians have marched in the capital, Moscow, in memory of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader murdered two years ago, calling for further investigations into his killing.
Moscow demonstration
Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who became an outspoken critic of longtime President Vladimir Putin, was shot in February 2015…

At the time, Nemtsov, 55, was working on a report that he said proved Russia's direct involvement in a separatist rebellion that has raged in eastern Ukraine since April 2014. Russia has denied the accusations.

Five men accused of murdering Nemtsov went on trial in October 2016…

"We gathered here to demand bringing of Boris Nemtsov's killers to justice, not only its performers but also its organisers and those who ordered it," Ilya Yashin, a Russian opposition activist and an organiser of the march, told Reuters news agency…

Police put the number of marchers at 5,000, but a group of voluntary observers said there were more than 15,000 demonstrators.

The authorities blocked off several streets in central Moscow for Sunday's event, sealing in the marchers with metal fencing guarded by police…

After the march, thousands of people went to lay flowers on the site on the central Moscow bridge where Nemtsov was killed.

"It's at times like this, particularly on the anniversary of Boris Nemtsov's death, where you can kind of check in with the opposition and take the pulse of how [strong] the movement is," Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from the march, said.

"What we are finding at the moment is that there is still obviously a good number of people devoted to the cause to keeping the idea of a more democratic, a more liberal Russia alive, but it's an uphill struggle for these people. They are not the majority in the country…

Similar rallies to honour Nemtsov took place in cities across Russia, including St Petersburg and his hometown of Nizhny Novgorod…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

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