Denis Volkov. Protest Movement in Russia through the Eyes ... 1 The topic of the causes of emergence

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Transcript of Denis Volkov. Protest Movement in Russia through the Eyes ... 1 The topic of the causes of emergence

  • Denis Volkov. Protest Movement in Russia through the Eyes of its Leaders and Activists

      Results  of  previous  research.  .......................................................................................................................  2  

    Infrastructure  of  protest  movement.  ...........................................................................................................  4  

    Observing  during  the  elections.  ...............................................................................................................  4  

    “Citizen  Observer”:  ..............................................................................................................................  5  

    “The  League  of  Voters”:  .......................................................................................................................  6  

    Navalny’s  “RussElections”:  ...................................................................................................................  7  

    Political  protests.  .....................................................................................................................................  9  

    “Ethical  and  “stylistic”  incompatibility  with  the  authorities,  abuse  of  power:  ..................................  10  

    Complaints  of  the  people  in  power:  ...................................................................................................  11  

    Inefficiency  of  authorities:  .................................................................................................................  11  

    Organizing  political  protest.  ...................................................................................................................  12  

    Organization  Committee  ....................................................................................................................  12  

    Workshop  of  Protest  Actions  .............................................................................................................  15  

    On  the  role  of  “Solidarity”  Movement.  ..............................................................................................  17  

    Civil  protest.  ...........................................................................................................................................  19  

    From  the  March  of  Millions  to  the  Walks  on  May  7th  and  Moscow’s  “Occupy”.  ...............................  20  

    Writers’  walk  on  May  13th.  .................................................................................................................  23  

    Municipal  Elections  in  Moscow.  .........................................................................................................  24  

    “Parallel  economy”.  ...........................................................................................................................  26  

    Protest  results  ............................................................................................................................................  29  

    Influence  of  protest  movement  on  political  system.  .............................................................................  29  

    Activization  of  various  interest  groups:  opponents  and  supporters  of  the  regime.  ..............................  29  

    Tightening  the  screws.  ...........................................................................................................................  30  

    Unreformability  of  Putin  regime  “from  above”.  ....................................................................................  31  

    Discussing  Putin’s  fate.  ..........................................................................................................................  32  

    Vague  feeling  of  a  dead-­‐end.  .................................................................................................................  34  

    Limits  of  the  protest  movement.  ...........................................................................................................  36  

    Consolidation  and  civil  solidarity.  ..........................................................................................................  39  

    The  problem  of  civil  control  over  authorities.  .......................................................................................  42  

    Issue  of  leadership.  ................................................................................................................................  45  

    New  generation  of  leaders.  ....................................................................................................................  49  

    Program  of  Action.  .................................................................................................................................  50  

    Conclusion.  .................................................................................................................................................  52  

  •  

    Results  of  previous  research.   The Levada-Center experts have analyzed protest activity in several ways. The corpus of quantitative research comprises polls at the opposition rallies in Moscow (in December 2011, February 2012 and September 2012), regular Russian public-opinion polls about the attitudes towards the protests, as well as several qualitative polls conducted in Moscow. This article represents the results of qualitative research conducted in April-June 2012 with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy1. The aim of the present work is to describe the ‘infrastructure’ of the protest movement, i.e. major organizations and citizen associations involved in the events of the end of 2011 and the first half of 2012. The objective is to understand why the spirit of protest emerged and how it evolved. This is all the more important to do in order to contest the opinion that “the absence of institutional structures of mobilization is a characteristic feature of current Russian protest (with occasional exceptions uncharacteristic of the general trend).”2 The first part of the article addresses this task. The second part includes the description of the motives of leaders and activists, their inspirations and concerns, and what their protest has helped them to achieve. The work quotes extensively from interviews.

    In these events, we may distinguish several stages of public mobilization: a) protest voting during the elections to the Duma on December 4, 2011, which the public resolved to do 1-2 weeks before the elections; b) monitoring the polling stations, the attention to which was heightened due to the events of the preceding weeks (i.e. a scandalous election campaign) and the publication of the facts of violations on the election day; c) mass rallies (starting from the first protest on December 5 in Chistie Prudy and finishing with mass rallies).3Therefore, we could talk about the fact that the wave of protests had started to grow already in November, well before the election day. The results of voting as well as the falsifications only added fuel to the flames already kindled.

    Several factors contributed to the atmosphere of uncertainty and the development of significant tension in all strata of Russian society: economic recession, accumulated system tensions, conflicts of interest among the community groups aspiring to power, and the corrupt state – and, consequently, the instability of the state system in general, the rapid decline of government authority. As an outcome of a series of pre-election scandals, to which mostly the educated, financially and informationally independent big city inhabitants reacted, tensions gave way to agitation. Given these conditions, people enthusiastically reacted to the calls of the protest organizers to march into the streets. People responded to the messages on the radio and in social networks as well as to flyers that were distributed. Mass mobilization started from the grass- roots, with protest voting during the elections to the State Duma, which, apparently, enlarged the scope of the events to the whole of Russia.4 This is why these events were outside the sphere of influence of major players, who only managed to react and to adapt to the flow of events with varying degrees of success. Time flew by: mass mobilization, which outlined the framework of                                                                                                                           1 The topic of the causes of emergence and dynamics of Russian protest movement, which unfolded in December 2011, was considered before. Ref. Volkov D. “Protest rallies in R