Editorial: no end to the protest
3.05.12 20:56 By Gazeta.ru editorial
Opposition leaders couldn't oust Putin nor organize a revolution. Photo: ITAR-TASS
Both the authorities and the opposition consider the 'March of Millions' as a possible period to the protest activities that started in December: the former are trying to enforce its finality, the latter try to resist. But there can be no period while all the errors of the government that inspired people to go out in the streets in the first place, still remain.
The Mayor's office at last allowed the organizers of the May 6 protest to gather their supporters again on Bolotnaya square. The organizers are unhappy and say they want absolutely different conditions. But even this approval was received after a bureaucratic delay that is difficult to explain. Despite all the difficulties in organizing the inauguration on May 7 and Victory day parade on May 9, the plans of the opposition have been well-known for a long time and could have been approved. It's evident that there was a game being played around the banal issue on where to allow the peaceful rally, guaranteed by the Constitution.
The official inauguration of Vladimir Putin ends the big electoral cycle in our country. Of course, the authorities would like the other 'cycle' of mass protests, which were suddenly very numerous and then diminishing, to end. From this point of view, the May 6 rally seems to look like a comfortable opportunity to end the 'protest season' that started on December 5, 2011. During these past five months, the Kremlin found time to panic a bit, find the opposition's weakness, start to flirt with the people, execute many deceptive maneuvers successfully, and finally calm down and prepare for many years of a calm and happy life. Only one thing is left: to pin the people who promised Millions' March down to their word, to establish the insignificance of the protest activity and to 'sell' this observation to the citizens.
The very length of rally approval procedure can be explained by the plan they had: if the rally is unauthorized, they'll have to deal with hundreds, if not thousands of protesters, and just disperse them. In the end, it is likely that the estimate of the protesters' numbers was too large to use force, but well in the frames of convenient media interpretation.
There's a feeling that the rally organizers are concerned with the same issue, just from the other side. The last rally on Novy Arbat was disappointing and caused mutual reproaches among opposition activists. And there are difficulties with the protest content: the opposition couldn't oust Putin nor organize a revolution.
This is basically the same logic: naturally bringing power to the feeling of victory in a battle royal, and the opposition to its last line of defense in its current campaign. But the main thing in this political season was not the war between the opposition and the government, but the awakening of civic activities among rather large citizens groups and their possibility for organization and communication. And this won't go away whatever the result of May 6 is for different organizing committees and staffs.
There can be no period to this sentence, because the real protest pathos was not a wish to change the people in Russian government. The reason for unrest is the vices of current power system. And these vices aren't gone, they won't be going anywhere as well as their consequences. Moreover, the government shows by its actions its inability to change the system and the unwillingness to try.
So we wouldn't indulge in the discussion of "the end of protest movement" in Russia. It may change its form or maybe promote other leaders. It may survive the periods of fall and disappointment, but the government itself will "help" to survive them, continuing the practices that caused the citizens to lose patience.
And of course the protest won't focus around the issue of access to the pulpit at some rally, but on the demands to be honest, addressed to the authorities.
And what if the revolution didn't happen? Should we regret it if there's lots of work ahead?
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