“Russia’s Unstoppable Desire For Change” Mikhail Fishman, The Moscow Times, 5 july 2017

This is an important Russian phenomenon: Change and authority do not necessarily grow from wide support. What matters is the ability to interrupt the status quo

President Vladimir Putin rules the political scene with approval ratings of 80 to 90 percent, while the opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been totally barred from national television. But if measured by influence, Navalny is Putin’s only major competitor. Navalny’s has the ability to mobilize huge crowds, mostly young people. Putin´s power is absolute and his individual rule is a given, a situation more reminiscent of a monarchy than of an undeveloped democracy. Russia was declared a harbor of traditional values in a global sea of immorality, including the case against Pussy Riot and the legislation prohibiting “gay propaganda”. In today’s Russia, the change in Russians’ self-perception comes in different forms, activists fight against discriminatory legislation, historians form NGOs to defend their field from political abuse, and Muscovites rise up against a massive rehousing program.  It is difficult to draw a line between people’s search for social identity and political action. Any social actions that people take go against State interests. The young protesters who took to the streets to support Navalny this year were actually not so numerous, and it was definitely not a revolutionary situation. The demonstrations this Spring should not be viewed as a stand-alone activity, they are part of a much broader picture. Teenagers protests are, to a significant extent, a reaction against the ideological pressure delivered in schools and colleges.

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“Russia’s Unstoppable Desire For Change” Mikhail Fishman, The Moscow Times, 5 july 2017


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