Staunton, May 10 – Just as it seems impossible for the Kremlin to imagine that ordinary Russians could protest on their own without the direction of “dark forces” from abroad, so too it appears difficult for its denizens to understand that many young Russians are taking part because they understand the situation and want change.
According to Snob columnists Tatyana Krasnova, many Russian teenagers are doing more to learn about their country than are their parents. She says they are reading Shalamov when their parents are watching the First Channel and they should be respected for their choices as a result (snob.ru/selected/entry/137262).
Moreover, according to Ivan Yakovina of Kyiv’s New times, the regime is radicalizing young people by its actions. According to him, “they already are not afraid to throw themselves at the police and beat the OMON officers. This is by the way a very good thing” although it won’t by itself lead to regime change (nv.ua/opinion/yakovina/moskva-ustala-ot-putina-2468874.html).
But in an indication that the authorities are frightened and want to prevent more young people from protesting, a group of United Russia deputies has proposed banning youths from unsanctioned meetings and fining organizers up to 500,000 rubles for each case or arresting them for up to 15 days (iz.ru/741469/2018-05-10/v-gosdume-predlozhili-nakazyvat-za-privlechenie-podrostkov-k-mitingam).
Given that the party of power appears behind the measure, it will probably pass and become “the ideal variant for arbitrary action” by allowing officials to move against any organizer of any meeting they want to, according to Moscow analyst Dmitry Oreshkin (mbk.media/sences/idealnyj-variant-dlya-proizvola/).
It does seem clear that more young people are taking part in unsanctioned meetings: In 2017, 475 youths were arrested at such events throughout Russia; last Saturday alone, 223 were detained, the MBK news agency reports.