Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Posters Become New Form of Protest in Russia, Other Post-Soviet States

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 12 – As demonstrating has become more difficult and even dangerous in Russia, some who want to push a political agenda are using posters instead, something that can be put up quickly and unexpectedly and that may attract more attention from more people than most other kinds of protest.

            In “Novaya gazeta,” commentator Yan Shenkman says that “this is a completely new protest strategy for Moscow. That is, there were attempts earlier but now it is becoming a trend” given that “unsanctioned and sometimes even sanctioned pickets and meetings” can get people in trouble (novayagazeta.ru/society/72619.html).

            But it is happening not only in the Russian capital but in regional centers like Rostov, he points out. (It is also happening in other post-Soviet countries such as Armenia where people are putting up posters challenging Yerevan’s pro-Moscow line. See, for example, proua.com.ua/?p=46115).

            The posters can be put up anonymously, and that is part of the intrigue. And they are often extremely clever, avoiding any of the usual pitfalls of protest slogans.  That puts the authorities in a difficult position, Shenkman suggests. If they try to tear down the posters, they only attract attention to them and making themselves look ridiculous.

            Shenkman gives several examples of posters that have recently appeared on Moscow streets. Perhaps the cleverest shows a piece of cheese in the shape of Crimea in a mousetrap, with the simple but multiple meaning legend “Free Crimea.”


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