Staunton, March 11 – The most widespread form of protest in Russia today are strikes by workers to force their employers to pay wages; and in more than 80 percent of the cases, they succeed in forcing their bosses to pay them all or part of what they are owed, Yekaterina Schulmann of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service.
The notion that protests aren’t effective, she says, arises because many view protests as being about the overthrow of the regime. In fact, that is a misconception inherited from Soviet times. Most protests are very much within system. Unfortunately, those that are rarely get the media attention they deserve (mbk.media/sences/starye-i-novye-formy/).
Schulmann’s observations came at a roundtable organized by Moscow’s Sakharov Center about protest activity in Russia. Among the opinions offered by other participants were the following:
· Denis Volkov of the Levada Center says protests are a lagging indicator relative to attitudes to the actions of those in power. That is people have to be angry for some time before they protest. “At present,” he says, “one doesn’t see dissatisfaction with people in the authorities.”
· Aleksandra Arkhipova of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says that “today protest has moved into the Internet space,” wholly or in part. Many think the Internet organizes protests but in fact in most cases the Internet spreads the views of those who take part in other forms.
· Yuliya Galyamina of the Higher School of Economics and a deputy in Moscow’s Timiryazev district council says that “the municipal campaign also showed that elections for citizens all the same remain a form of protest, but a protest not against the elections as such but against the political situation as a whole. If people can’t influence global issues, then they take steps to influence the political picture at least at the local level.”
· Grigory Durnovo of the OVD Info Project says that despite official pressure, protests are breaking out in ever more places.