Staunton, January 24 – One of the most striking features of the Navalny protests this weekend is that the powers that be in many places were quite ready to use force against the demonstrators from the outset, something that may lead the latter to respond in kind, further escalating the situation, Kirill Martynov says.
The political editor of Novaya gazeta said on Ekho Moskvy that official actions could “boomerang” on the authorities and is perhaps more likely than not because those taking part in the protests were so varied by age, social group and region, making it far more difficult for the Kremlin to play groups against one another (echo.msk.ru/news/2779536-echo.html).
“Sociologists will investigate this question,” he continued, but this less than happy picture for the Kremlin, I would call, ‘the other United Russia,’” an idea he developed in an essay in his own paper and one that suggests people now see themselves unified against an alien regime (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/01/23/88848-drugaya-edinaya-rossiya).
According to Martynov, “before our eyes has appeared a united people who have had it up to hear with all the current processes and they want change. People who regularly go to meetings” were among them, but so too were “many new faces.” And that should send a terrifying message to the denizens of the Kremlin.
Those taking part are united not by Navalny but in their anger against the system, its lawlessness and corruption. They don’t intend to emigrate but they have no future in Russia unless it changes. And so they are demanding fundamental changes that the regime can provide only if it somehow transforms itself.
“At this instant, the state has lost the young, and an enormous contribution to this was made by the state’s confidence that “with the help of television and trolls” it could win them over. That hasn’t happened, Rather the reverse. The TV-promoted agenda of the Putin regime has been defeated by YouTube, Martynov says.
Other Moscow commentators echo his words. Kirill Rogov says that more violence is entirely possible but that any escalation will be the responsibility “not of the protesters but of the Kremlin,” a warning to the powers that be against thinking that this time around force will be enough to solve the problems it faces (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=600E687FCD97D).