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Jan 24, 2021
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Alexander Kots: “It was just a warm-up in the 2021 season”

In the photo: police officers and participants in an unauthorized rally in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tverskaya Street.

In the photo: police officers and participants in an unauthorized rally in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tverskaya Street. (Photo: Sergey Bobylev / TASS)

Let’s turn to the classics and remember what a revolutionary situation is, the concept of which was first formulated by V.I. Lenin back in 1913. “It is not enough for a revolution that the lower classes do not want to live as before. It also requires that the upper classes cannot manage and manage as before “, – the leader of the world proletariat issued the formulation of the revolutionary situation. If we measure it on today’s Russia, then the revolution as such in the country cannot take place – and the “lower classes” in their majority, in general, are satisfied with life, and the “upper classes” hold power quite tenaciously. What happened then now?

The protest rallies that swept across the country on January 23 were perhaps the most massive since 1991, when the August putsch led to a coup d’état and a change of government. They were held under the slogans of freeing the arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny and against corruption in the highest echelons of power, which, in fact, Navalny spoke about the day before. So let’s say, a reason of a fairly small scale, especially since the “main oppositionist of the country” himself is not particularly clean on hand, judging by the criminal cases of fraud brought against him. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to express their protest – most likely not even in support of Navalny, but because of dissatisfaction with their current situation. And this is more than an alarming symptom for the authorities themselves.

– The current rallies are just a warm-up before the looming more massive protests in the country, – believes journalist Alexander Kotswho covered the events on the Kiev Maidan in 2014 and the protests in Minsk in 2020. – In terms of the level of aggression, they can be compared with the most massive demonstrations on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow – the March of Millions on May 6, 2012, when more than a thousand people were detained. Now it was clear that there was no clear coordination in the ranks of the protesters, groups of radicals stood out, who provoked the police with their attacks. These riot policemen were rather harshly detained, although in general the forces of order behaved quite restrained – shkolota, teenagers, did not pressurize.

For all the disorganization of the protest actions, one can note precisely their massiveness – many came not to participate, but just to see. But they came, responded to calls in social networks, because something pushed people to take to the streets. And this is only the first experience of the so-called “Navalny’s headquarters”, which will be promoted and improved.

“It is obvious that the current unauthorized action gave rise to protests in the 2021 season: the sides probed the defense, looked at each other, conducted reconnaissance in force. And they found weak points. The current protests in the cities of the country have organizers, but no coordinators. Yes, there were people in the crowd trying to direct the flow. I admit that these are specially trained comrades, but the protesters did not really listen to them. Therefore, the march turned into confusion and vacillation, diverging along different routes. And there is something Belarusian in this, when many processions take place along different routes.

There is no doubt that at the next actions, and they will undoubtedly be, the opposition will coordinate (at least network). And the security officials need to draw conclusions. Today they have shown that crowds can be guided and gradually dispersed without resorting to mass beatings, gunfire and flashbangs. What was expected of them, “Alexander Kots wrote on his Twitter page in the evening after the rallies ended.

“If we compare the current protest actions in Russia with the events on the Ukrainian Maidan, then there was a clear organization and coordination,” Alexander Kots tells especially for the “SP”. – Barricades immediately appeared there, a tent city was set up, into which water, food and car tires were regularly brought in. The protesters had their own commanders who sent their detachments to the desired point for clashes with the soldiers of the special forces “Berkut” and internal troops. Again, replenishment regularly appeared in the Maidan ranks, which were mainly brought from the western regions of Ukraine. As a result, the Maidan, which began under the slogan “Ukraine – tse Europe”, stood for three months, received the support of nationalists and ended with the overthrow of the incumbent President Yanukovych.

We have not yet observed this, most of the people who took to the streets simply do not know what they want, and Navalny, who is sometimes called a scandalous blogger-whistle-blower, or an opposition politician, is definitely not their idol. The absence of leaders and coordinators, as well as a specific goal of the protests, led to the release of steam – they came, shouted, threw snowballs at the police and went home. By the way, I will note that the police behaved quite correctly. It is clear that the most violent were tied up and taken away in paddy wagons, but they did not beat them with truncheons on the backs and stun grenades into the crowd, unlike their Belarusian colleagues, they did not throw them. In Minsk, it was the harsh actions of the local riot police that provoked a retaliatory aggression from the protesters.

I will note one more detail – there were not so many children at the rallies, although the previous hysteria on social networks suggested that children would take to the streets. And the police will screw them up like an adult. Nothing of the kind happened, although teenagers were present, but in small numbers. Most likely, the parents themselves said: “Do not go children to Africa!” The police did not touch the children – they exhorted them to go home.

The outcome of January 23, I would mark in the confrontation between the protesters and the authorities with a 1: 1 score, that is, a draw. The opposition has shown that it is able to bring to the streets a large number of people, however, disorganized and not having a single goal. The authorities did not dare to use harsh measures, but kept the situation under control, the police, albeit non-aggressively, managed to cut through the crowd and withstood the “snow attack”. I can assume – here, as they say, don’t go to a fortuneteller – protest actions in the 2021 season in Russia will continue. Each side will draw its own conclusions and make adjustments. It is likely that the score will remain a draw, no cardinal changes in the tactics of the confrontation are yet visible. Maybe it’s for the best.

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