On January 23, uncoordinated rallies in support of the oppositionist were held throughout Russia Alexei Navalny, who is under arrest. Earlier, the authorities warned of responsibility for calling and participating in uncoordinated rallies. Particular attention was paid to the involvement of minors in unauthorized actions using TikTok and other social networks. The deputies even put forward an initiative for criminal liability up to 5 years for such appeals, which was supported by the RF IC (the government did not support the initiative, since the corresponding article is already in the Criminal Code). Nevertheless, protests took place in many cities, although they were accompanied by arrests.
The first performances began in the eastern part of the country. In some dispatched points, only dozens of people took to the streets, in large cities their number reached several thousand. According to media reports, in Khabarovsk, about a thousand people danced around the police, and then staged a spontaneous procession, about 40 were detained. In Yekaterinburg, the rally was attended by about three thousand people, in the center of Barnaul, 2-3 thousand people gathered for the action, about 20 people were detained. In Kazan, from 300 to 500 people took to the streets, in Samara – two to three thousand, in Belgorod and Krasnodar – about a thousand. Basically, the actions were peaceful, although by 16:30 OVD-Info reported 1090 detainees across the country.
Naturally, the greatest protest activity was expected in Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to correspondents, the first arrests on Pushkinskaya Square in the capital began in the afternoon, even before the official start of the action. Traditionally, journalists were also taken to the paddy wagons.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, about 4 thousand people took part in the uncoordinated action in Moscow. The Dozhd TV channel, in turn, claims that at least 15 thousand people came to the action. Reuters estimated the number of participants in the action in Moscow at 10 thousand people. During the performances in the capital, a fight with the OMON took place on Pushkin Square. Police officers were also pelted with snowballs and pieces of ice. There is no final figure on the number of people detained in the capital, but law enforcement officials reportedly detain those who came with placards, as well as participants who completely hide their faces with balaclavas or hoods, scarves and masks at the same time. The Ministry of Internal Affairs promised to investigate every fact of provocation on illegal actions
It was expected that about 150-200 thousand people would go to rallies in support of Alexei Navalny across the country, but the total number, apparently, turned out to be less (although there are no final figures at the moment).
Director of the Center for Political Analysis Pavel Danilin believes that today’s actions can be called a failure of the opposition.
“Navalny’s supporters are getting smaller. If not for the story of his alleged poisoning, he would have been blown away to almost zero. But this story did not lead to an exponential growth in popularity, at least to the level of 2017, “Danilin wrote on his Facebook.
According to the political scientist, “Navalny’s betrayal and his calls for sanctions against Russia turned away from him 99 percent of those who care for the country, those who are” offended for the state. ” Therefore, patriotic people who were once supporters of Navalny turned away from him. In addition, despite the fears of the authorities, the opposition did not manage to bring teenagers to the rallies en masse.
“Thus, neither the thousands of posts bought by Tik Tok, nor the 50 million views of the video about someone’s sanatorium in Gelendzhik, were able to deceive the children. And the youth. No one could be deceived, that’s all. Those who have come to all such actions for two decades now, and who would have met the Abrams with carnations on the streets of the capital … The people are smarter than both Western puppeteers and Navalny and his curators think about them, ”Danilin said.
Political scientist, author of the telegram channel “Politjoystick” Marat Bashirov in an interview with “SP” agreed that the rate of the organizers of the protests on the youth did not play, and noted the competent work of the security forces.
– Firstly, the organizers failed to provoke the mass participation of teenagers in these actions. The work of the parent community and law enforcement officers in social networks made it possible to prevent the appearance of minors in squares and streets. Secondly, the small number of participants in the shares is surprising, to be honest, I expected more. Maybe it was cold, maybe some other factors played a role. But I think that Navalny is not such a popular figure who can consolidate a significant number of protesters around him.
There were a certain number of provocateurs at the rallies, who threw snowballs at the police and firecrackers. But the security forces have long worked out the method of interaction with them, everything is happening quite competently, within the prescribed rules, so we do not see such mistakes as a few years ago.
The most important thing is that the security forces have learned to work in social networks, and they quickly identify the provocateurs. For example, very quickly they found a girl who took the baton away from a law enforcement officer. We will wait until the end of the action in Moscow. I think everything will end peacefully, because, firstly, the main organizers have been identified, and secondly, they break up the groups of provocateurs and prevent them from consolidating. This suggests that there is also hidden work in the crowd, which is also the merit of the security forces.
However chapter political expert group Konstantin Kalachev believes that the relatively small number of protesters is not indicative – in summer and autumn, many more dissatisfied with the authorities can take to the streets.
– Today’s actions showed that discontent will continue to accumulate, that there are a lot of people in the country who believe that Russia is developing in the wrong direction and has reached a dead end. The number of people going out on the street should not be misleading. Now is not the best time for rallies – winter, bad weather, coronavirus and atomization. But the fact that even in Vladivostok, where the vertical of power is rigidly built, 3-5 thousand people leave, suggests that in addition to these people there are still many sympathizers who would like to leave, but did not leave.
The federal elections in 2021 will not be easy for the authorities, and protests in summer and autumn may be more massive due to the fact that a difficult epidemiological situation will end, the weather will be conducive to taking to the streets, and disappointment will only grow.
And here the question arises – what is the government ready to offer, apart from bans, clubs and intimidation. There is a feeling that the authorities have now gone into deep defensiveness, and as a supporter of the evolutionary path of development, this is very upsetting for me. Power has ceased to distinguish semitones and divides everyone into friends and foes. It is not clear how the hesitant and dissenting people can be persuaded in this situation. The ability to listen, hear and shape the agenda is very important, but we don’t see it.
The current protests were rocked not by the opposition, but by the authorities themselves, which of all the irons urged not to go to rallies. I consider this a success of the opposition and a failure for the authorities, an inability to go beyond the circle on which it rests. No one in power tries to speak to people in a language they understand. I have no feeling that the authorities are ready to explain themselves to those who, yesterday, if not their supporters, then belonged to the swamp. The opposition is taking over the initiative.
“SP”: – Alexei Navalny is still a rather controversial figure, is he capable of consolidating potential protests in summer and autumn?
– All the talk about how bad Navalny is, are covered by two arguments. The first is that they seem to have tried to poison him, and the second is that he is now under arrest. Therefore, the attitude towards him can be left out of brackets. Moreover, the point is not in Navalny, but in the irritation and disappointment that people have accumulated. Anyone can take people to the streets. Even no one can take them out, they will come out on their own.