The Kremlin’s pressure from the autumn Duma elections is growing as protesters increasingly fearlessly demand the right to choose their candidates and foreign attention is high, says Jussi Lassila, a senior researcher at the Foreign Policy Institute.
The Russians an opposition politician took to the streets around the country on Saturday Alexei Navalnyin encouraged, although the authorities had tried in advance to prevent protests in many ways.
The protests were seen in advance as a kind of measure of Navalny’s popularity and a test of his ability to get people moving. Navalnyi must have received a commendable grade, as no such demonstration, considered illegal by the authorities, has been seen in post-Soviet Russia, at least not by the President. Vladimir Putin season.
There are no official figures for the number of participants, but it is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Protests took place in more than a hundred cities around the country. Similarly, the police arrested him a record number of more than 3,500 people. Despite the arrests, Navalnyi forces announced as early as Saturday that protests would continue next weekend.
Senior Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute Jussi Lassila estimates that protesters across the country betrayed the stills for regular and widespread protests – a kind of “civic walk” whose impact remains to be seen.
“It has all the prerequisites. Navalny has become a prisoner of opinion at the international level, which serves as a symbol of general dissatisfaction, ”says Lassila. “The expansion of civic walks would be a clear turnaround in Russia.”
New According to Lassila, there is international attention and foreign interest in Russia’s internal development. It was facilitated by Navalny’s rush to hospital in Germany and his growing international reputation.
“Some kind of background support from the West and foreign policy pressure bring additional motivation to the opposition.”
On Sunday, France, among others, called Russia’s mass arrests an “intolerable violation” of the rule of law. The United States demanded the release of all detainees on Saturday, as well as foreign minister Pekka Haavisto.
In autumn Duma elections are promised, which Lassila considers difficult for the Putin regime. It wants to exclude candidates it considers dangerous from the election, but international interest is putting pressure on the Kremlin.
“Russia is not going to succumb to external pressure. Sound weights will harden, which is likely to increase dissatisfaction. Come see the bloodshed. The Kremlin relies on the mechanism of use of force and fear. Everything else seems weak. ”
Navalnii’s position as leader of the opposition and as an opponent of Putin was strengthened by the protests. It has also had to be acknowledged by members of the opposition who have been harsh about Navalny in the past, Lassila says.
The demonstrations also reinforced the demand of citizens to be able to elect their own candidates in the elections. The Kremlin has accused the opposition of not having a political program and the opposition has been arguing with each other. For Lassila, the discussion of opposition political programs in general is premature. The most important thing would be to run for election first.
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Saturday the fearfulness of the protesters caught the eye of the researcher. Police extracts were very violent in places, and several protesters were reported injured. In addition, there are promises of trials for the charges against them. Tough action does not seem to curb the protest mood of the citizens.
“People are ready to come together. The extracts were really hard, but not yet similar to those in Belarus. It may be that the opening round has only been seen. ”
Examples of indefatigable demonstrations can be found nearby. There have been demonstrations in Khabarovsk since last summer, when authorities dismissed a popular governor and put him in the tube. There has been opposition to an authoritarian president in Belarus since August.
Lassilasta the demonstrations confirmed the ongoing generational change and the irreversible change in Russia’s attitudinal climate. Young people in particular are no longer indifferent to social issues, unlike their parents or grandparents.
In the Russian media estimates show that in Moscow, for example, about 40 percent of participants were demonstrating for the first time. Most of the participants were aged 25–35 years. It was estimated that four per cent of the participants were minors and seven per cent were pensioners.
“It would be important for the opposition, which needs civil society, to remain active,” Lassila says. “Any authoritarian regime will strike when the backwater phase comes.”