Staunton, June 18 – Protest actions have been increasing in number, size, intensity and subject matter and are likely to continue to do so in the coming months, four Moscow experts assembled by the Finam.ru agency says, despite or perhaps better even because Vladimir Putin seems unaware of or at least unwilling to comment on this trend.
Taking part in an online conference call entitled “Putin and Russia -- The Recession is Past, the Elections are Ahead,” the four were unanimous in declaring that protest activity was on the rise across the Russian Federation and would continue to increase in the months ahead (finam.ru/analysis/newsitem/eksperty-protestnoe-dvizhenie-budet-narastat-20170616-154024/).
Olga Pavlenko a specialist on religion and foreign policy at the Russian State Humanities University, says that the protests have arisen and will grow as a result of systematic mistakes by the authorities such as their continued reliance on propaganda that puts young people off, bankruptcies of smaller companies, and the imitation struggle against corruption.
Pavel Salin, head of the Center for Political Research at the government’s Finance University, agrees but says that it isn’t so much objective conditions that are driving the rise of protests as of the subjective sense among ever more Russians that there are few good prospects for them in the future. Unless the powers address that, there will be massive demonstrations.
Galina Mikhaleva, another professor at the Humanities University and a Yabloko Party activist, suggests that “the protest movement will gain strength both in response to specific situations such as the long-haul truckers, the victims of renovation, deceived borrowers and depositors, and youth protests.”
The effects of all these things will feed on one another and be cumulative, and the point has been reached, she argues, that any use of force to try to stop the protests will be counter-productive and radicalize people further.
And Oleg Reut, who teaches at the North-West Institute of Administration of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, says that the failure of the Kremlin to pay much attention to this trend will only give it more time to crystallize and grow – and not lead it to dry up for lack of public attention.