Staunton, July 31 – One of the difficulties of knowing how much protest activity is really going on in the Russian Federation is that the authorities in some regions simply close down the Internet access of those who put up protest signs or organize demonstrations and thus there is no record of what they are doing beyond the confines of their village, town or region.
That pattern is suggested by a profile the Polit.ru portal presents of Aleksandr Pravdin, a 73-year-old psychiatrist in a village near Leningrad who as an individual has been putting up protest signs for two decades, often to the delight of his fellow villagers but to the horror of officials who block his access to the broader world (polit.ru/article/2022/08/01/pravdin/).
The pensioner says that while officials didn’t like his signs when he put them up before Putin expanded his war in Ukraine last February, they did not do much against him. But now they are increasingly angry and he may even consider leaving, especially as now, given official opposition, many of his former friends aren’t speaking to him.
Among the signs Pravdin has put up and seen taken down are the following;
· “Dima is a thief,” a reference both to the former president and the current head of the region in which his village is located.
· “You aren’t Peter I; you are Adolf the 2nd,” a clear reference to Putin’s efforts to present himself as a continuer of Peter the Great’s efforts.
· “The Day of Unity of Slavic Peoples” featuring Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream.”
· “Peter: Thanks for the City. Forgive us for the fact that the fools have taken over.”
In Moscow or another large city, such expressions of the views of the population likely would get lost; but in a small village or town, they may have a far greater impact, albeig only with its confines, Polit.ru suggests.