Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, January 29, 2018

They protest too little

There are small protests. There will be an election. Neither will matter.

Russians Brave Icy Temperatures to Protest Putin and Election
Protesters across Russia braved icy temperatures on Sunday to demonstrate against the lack of choice in a March presidential election that is virtually certain to see President Vladimir V. Putin chosen for a fourth term…

The protests, expected in almost 100 cities, were called by Aleksei A. Navalny, a charismatic, anti-corruption opposition leader, after he was barred from running for the presidency because of legal problems widely seen as manufactured to prevent his candidacy…

Mr. Navalny was detained before he reached the several thousand demonstrators gathered in Pushkin Square in central Moscow and other main avenues closer to the Kremlin…

The boisterous crowd in Pushkin Square chanted slogans including “These are not elections!” and “Down with the czar!” At one point, they urged more people to join them, chanting, “There is still time to come, the weather is not bad.”

Mr. Navalny organized anti-corruption protests across Russia in March and June, mobilizing, in particular, middle-class youths, and his campaign has vowed to organize repeated protests before the March 18 election to underscore that the elections are a fraud, with the Kremlin manipulating the entire process…

The demonstrations on Sunday had a moderate turnout, drawing hundreds in many places, and were generally peaceful… In the far eastern part of the country and in Siberia, they were held despite frigid temperatures, with Yakutsk approaching minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 45 degrees Celsius)…

Mr. Putin has been the most powerful man in Russia since 2000, governing as president for all but a four-year stretch when term limits forced him to serve as prime minister for one term. Another presidential term, which would run six years, until 2024, would make him the longest-serving leader since Stalin…

Today’s anti-Putin protests weren’t huge. But they showed the breadth of simmering Russian discontent.

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