Friday, February 3, 2012

Protest march in Russia tomorrow

There is a massive protesters planning for tomorrow, February 4th, in Moscow. The temperatures are hovering around -20 Celsius, or near 0 Fahrenheit.

The organizers are facing greater difficulties than sub-freezing temperatures. There are also organizational and financial difficulties. The organizing committee decided there that should be four columns. The first column will march under the slogan "For honest elections", a column of liberals will use "Russia without Putin" banner, and there are also columns of nationalist and left-wingers. Some liberals and their leader Edward Liminov refused to participate (again) because of the presence of security is civilian clothing.

After passing through metal detectors the participants in the march will have only an hour to be organized into columns. To complicate matters, there are those who refused to fall into one of the four neat categories above, such as the "Business party" led by Constantine Babkin.

The video screens and audio equipment on Bolotnaya (swamp) Square (revolution in Russia goes to the swamp, again) will be provided by the same company which supplied them for protests in December. There is a need to safeguard the equipment, however, because during the last meeting somebody has cut the cable to one of two mega-screens.

Despite the discounts for equipment, there's not enough money. "I will tell you right away - we don't have enough money," - said one of organizers Olga Romanova. Alex Novalny, who showed himself to be the most talented orator, during the protests on Bolotnaya issued a stark call for contributions: "Don't pinch a hundred rubles - you'll just spend that for something utterly useless. Like food."

A few days before the scheduled protest a 140 square meter yellow banner went up near Kremlin, to inform Putin how some folks feel, it reads "Putin - Leave".
This giant sign, which reads "Putin - Leave"
was posted on top of a building near Kremlin.
Putin and his cronies have decided to dilute the message of protest by holding a rally of Putin's supporters on 'Kneeling' Hill. The plan to remind Russians of the failure of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, and the possibility of chaos in Russia. Indeed, they have a point, Russians remember the lawless days of Yeltsin in the early 1990's with trepidation. Putin is a devil they know, and the opposition is hopelessly split between left and right.

“For the average Russian, Putin may not be the best candidate in many domains, but he is the safest candidate because he represents stability and he has maintained a status-quo”, said Kobtzeff, an assistant professor in political science and history at the American University in Paris in an interview with FRANCE 24.

Actually Putin's popularity throughout Russia remains at relatively safe levels. A poll conducted on Dec 10-11 and released on Friday showed 51 percent of Russians approved of how he has done his job, down from 61 percent in a Nov 28-29 survey and 68 percent in January, state pollster VTsIOM said. This means that during the first protests on Bolotnaya square on December 10th, Putin's popularity was higher than Obama's popularity has been during the last two years.

Good luck to the protesters in Russia, they face a daunting challenge.

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