Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Moscow Protest Language Much Simpler than in 2011, Indicating Things are Now More Serious, Turkova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 18 – Kseniya Turkova, a Snob journalist who tracks changes in popular usage, says that the slogans and memes of those taking part in the Moscow protests in recent weeks are very different than those which demonstrators employed in the last major wave of protests in 2011-2012.

            Then, she says, there was a creativity and playfulness that have now largely disappeared, an indication that a far broader range of people is taking part and that the situation is becoming much more serious because the protesters want slogans that anyone and everyone can understand and march behind (

            She gives the following examples from the streets of Moscow now:

·         “Choose”

·         “Grisha” – now a generate name for policemen working against the crowds

·         “Allow” – not only the registration of candidates but protests on their behalf

·         “Zimbabwe” – from Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s remark that “we don’t live in Zimbabwe”

·         “Cosmonauts” – a term for OMON officers with enormous helmets

·         “Lyubov on the couch” – a reference to how Lyubov Sobol was arrested

·         “Mass disorders”

·         “Moscow specters” – a reference to voters who signed petitions whose existence the authorities denied

·         “#Theydispersedtheprotest” – a hashtag for effort to “de-anonymize” the police; often shortened simply to “deanon.”

·         “A stroll” – an ironic description of protests in which people are detained when they shouldn’t be

·         “The pudding is past its sell date” – a comment on the authorities’ approaches

·         “Things have gotten better” – with an extra letter inserted to suggest they haven’t

·         “Register”

·         “’Self-Nominated’ United Russia candidates – government approved candidates who hide that fact

·         “Celebritization of Protest” – a reference to the appearance at the protests of celebrities and an indication that the powers that be have lost the propaganda war

·         “Sobol” – another reference to Lyubov Sobol but suggesting far more people are involved than the authorities think

·         “Agree” – a verb that is used about all issues before the powers that be

·         “Your sons” – officials suggested that Muscovites shouldn’t fight with the police because they are “your sons,” something many in the crowd rejected as impossible in their cases

·         “Shashlyk festival” or “meat beat” – terms that have evolved rapidly from being a description of those who are too satisfied to take part in the protests or who think that everything is find and that they can continue as they have up to now

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