Protest movement stuck in a rut
Disgruntled citizens say about “March of Millions”: deja vu and discouragement
Moscow’s third “March of Millions” as usually drew a great number of disgruntled citizens on September 15, but this time more people were dissatisfied not only with President Vladimir Putin but also with the organizers of the protest.
The turn-out was again the point of dispute. Opposition leaders Ilya Yashin and Sergey Udaltsov claimed that there were 100,000 attendees, the police said the turn-out was 14,000, while independent observers estimated it at between 20,000 and 50,000.
The demonstrators marched from the Pushkinskaya Square to the Sakharov Avenue, where the rally was held. Most of the flags, which the protesters were waving, were of the Left Front left-wing movement and the Communist Party of Russia (CPRF). There were also groups of students, teachers, doctors, and environmentalists. Some people were holding placards calling for freedom to the members of the Pussy Riot punk rock band and political prisoners.
Ilya Yashin, Boris Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov were at the front of the right-wing column, representing the Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS), Solidarnost, Democratic Choice, etc. They were followed by the activists of the social liberal party Yabloko, who initially refused to participate, saying that they were unhappy with the radicals who provoke clashes.
An attendee of the rally, a teacher of philology, said: “Several years ago I went to rallies in support of Mikhail Kodorkovsky and I have a deja vu feeling today: everything is as dull, sluggish and ceremonial as before. It was obvious that the first rallies were attended by disgruntled citizens, whereas now parties send their activists.”
The protesters cheered Gennady Gudkov, who recently was expelled from the State Duma. Boris Nemtsov urged one million of people to take to streets, while Sergey Udaltsov called for deploying a tent camp on Sakharov Avenue.
The opposition failed to offer any specific measures and the crowd began breaking up, while speakers were reiterating their anti-Putin rhetoric. The way the rallies are held now discourages people from taking part in any protests, an art director of a travel magazine commented. It is not clear what the opposition leaders were doing in summer, because they failed to come up with new ideas, another protester added. Despite this, such rallies will still draw thousands of people as no new forms of protest have been invented yet, an employee of an oil market research firm opined.
The crowd grew smaller by 6 p.m. Police detained 23 activists and some people who were releasing white balloons into the air. All of them were set free during the night.
Research Department of RIA RosBusinessConsulting