Staunton, March 15 – Protests against Putin’s constitutional changes have been far more radical outside of Moscow than within the ring road even though in most cases the siloviki have cracked down hard against them (charter97.org/ru/news/2020/3/15/369521/ and dw.com/ru/в-санкт-петербурге-задержали-пикетчиков-против-поправок-в-конституцию-рф/a-52782543).
The Seven by Seven portal which tracks developments in the regions provided a glimpse of anger there in a story about protesters in Ryazan headlined “’Dictators End Badly – They are ‘Zeroed Out,”’” (7x7-journal.ru/articles/2020/03/15/diktatory-ploho-konchayut-ih-obnulyayut-na-odinochnyh-piketah-protiv-popravok-v-konstituciyu-ryazancy-napomnili-putinu-ob-uchasti-byvshego-rumynskogo-prezidenta-chaushesku).
A series of individual protesters succeeded one another, staying within the limits of the Russian law and avoiding the attacks that others who have demonstrated elsewhere have suffered. Their posters and their comments to a Seven by Seven journalist highlight their increasing radicalization.
Aleksey Borisov, who rose to prominence as a leader of the anti-Plato tax movement of truckdrivers, held up a sign declaring “Putin is a liar and a usurper. Russia without Putin!” He said that Putin would only be remembered for his crimes and for redividing the country into masters and slaves.
Activist Aleksandr Bekhtold followed him. He said he had lived most of his life under Putin’s rule and couldn’t take it anymore: “I do not want to see him in power anymore! Because he is a liar and a thief – and we don’t need a president like that.”
Timur Telunts, a second-year student at the School for Human Rights, held up a poster with two pictures. In the first, taken on December 21, 1989, Romanian dictator Nikolai Ceaucescu was delivering a speech and pounding his fists. In the second, four days later, he and his wife are shown being shot for their crimes, “’zeroed out,’” as it were.
“Why don’t we draw any conclusions from the lessons of history?” he asked rhetorically. “Many tyrants end in the same way and do not die natural deaths. And even if they do, then they remain in the memory of their peoples exclusively as usurpers and dictators, even though wihle alive, they had ‘a high percent of popular support.’”
Aleksey Fedulov followed him. He declared bluntly that as a result of what Putin has done, “the hopes [of Russians] for the future have been ‘zeroed out.’” Without regular circulations of elites, there cannot be any development and no hope for that is now left.
A fifth demonstrator, Irina Kusova, held a poster declaring “’Stop the Mutilation of the Constitution! Instead, finally get to work!” And a sixth, Margarita Vinokurova, held up one that declared simply “’Putin Must Be Retired!”
Passersby generally ignored the protesters, neither supporting or opposing them. Although one man, who said he admired Putin “as a man,” was confused by the reference to Ceaucescu, professing not to know who that was but saying “God be with him.”