Cultural Revolutions

Now a Russian Spring?

The Kremlin has reacted to continuing protests over election fraud and what the protestors see as the illegitimacy of the regime by toughening the law on mass meetings and is beginning to wield the newly adopted law against protestors and the protest leaders.  The protests have been centered in Moscow and do not by themselves represent a threat to President Vladimir Putin, but the Kremlin is anxious to prevent the protest movement from expanding and is nervously watching the financial crisis in Europe as oil prices, the mainstay of the Russian budget, have fallen.

The latest mass demonstration in the Russian capital was on Russia Day (June 12), which commemorates the Russian Federation’s Declaration of Sovereignty in 1990.  The event came off peacefully, with a column of 55-60,000 demonstrators marching through Moscow, but the Kremlin had acted preemptively to neutralize its effects.  Investigators called in a number of protest leaders and organizers, including well-known blogger Aleksey Navalny and media personality Kseniya Sobchak, for questioning regarding violent clashes between protestors and OMON riot police at a May 6 rally.  Police also charged and arrested a number of participants in the clashes, while the word in Moscow is that the authorities are planning to bring more serious charges of organizing mass disturbances against some of the protest leaders.


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