Commenting on the protest wave against rigged elections in Moscow, Russian political analyst Alexey Makarkin wrote that contrary to Soviet man, accustomed to be externally respectful of the authorities, the Moscow youth that rallied in Sakharov Avenue perceives the sanctity of power as an anomaly.
"Moscow's advanced young generation… has no fear of war - both the Great Patriotic War [WWII] and the Cold War are history for them. Just as the 1990s, are relevant only to their parents, this is in the deep past. Changing jobs has become commonplace - moreover, it is useful for self-realization. Among Soviet people, books about the Stalin's greatness stacked on bookstore shelves, are popular); young people are watching a film by Yuri Dud about Kolyma [a notorious labor camp], which easily gained millions of views and hundreds of thousands of likes," Makarkin explained. Hence, according to Makarkin, because of this lack of fear of the authority, it is difficult for authorities to communicate with this generation.
However, Makarkin noted that, now, in addition to the children, parents have begun to go to the streets more actively. Furthermore, Makarkin stressed that for the first time since 2012, following the fraud-ridden 2011 presidential vote, the protest has become fashionable and prestigious. Therefore, not showing up at the rally can "undermine one's popularity". This also explains why youth celebrities like YouTuber Yury Dud and rapper Oxxxymiron participated to the August 10 rally, and also urged their followers to join them.
Appraising the situation from the authorities' perspective, Makarkin opined that their options for maneuvers are limited, so the authorities immediately resort to arrests in order to squelch the protest wave. "But arrests when the movement is on the upswing only stimulate its development," Makarkin added that so far the arrests and other means of pressure have not aroused fear, but emotional discontent.
The opposition, however, faces a different problem: it has not yet learned to speak about social topics that really concern the country. Accordingly Makarkin predicts that if by autumn the opposition will be able to integrate its slogans into its agenda, then the protest will have a potential for development. However, "if the opposition will be unable to do this, then the protest will be … local and will therefore fade with time,"
Below is Makarkin's article:
Alexey Makarkin (Image:Ekhokavkaza.com)
Soviet Man Was Accustomed To Be Externally Respectful Of The Authorities; Moscow's Advanced Young Generation Doesn't Have The Same Fear Of The Authorities
"The August 10 rally on Sakharov Avenue was the first political rally held during the vacation season after 1991, which was voluntarily attended by more than 50 thousand people. It is clear that the protests are associated not only with the refusal to register a number of candidates for the Moscow City Duma elections, but also with more significant issues. It is about the appearance in the political space of young people for whom both Soviet and post-Soviet fears are not relevant.
"Soviet man was accustomed to be externally respectful of the authorities, despite the fact that during 'kitchen talk' he could say anything about it. He [Soviet man] also feared an enemy attack - hence the famous expression 'Let there only be no war'. In the post-Soviet era, another fear factor was added: the fear of repeated unrest, when one can lose his accustomed life, work and assets.
"Moscow's advanced young generation has no such fears. These young people perceive the sanctity of power as an anomaly; normal power should be accountable to the citizens. They have no fear of war - both the Great Patriotic War [WWII] and the Cold War are history for them. Just as the 1990s, are relevant only to their parents, this is in the deep past. Changing jobs has become commonplace - moreover, it is useful for self-realization. Among Soviet people, books about the Stalin's greatness stacked on bookstore shelves are popular; young people are watching a film by Yuri Dud about Kolyma [a notorious labor camp], which easily gained millions of views and hundreds of thousands of likes. It is difficult for authorities to communicate with this generation.
"Now, in addition to the children, parents have begun to go on the streets more actively - middle-aged people, largely experienced in participating in the protests of previous years. The growth in the number of protesters is partly associated with this, and we are talking about the vacation season, when many supporters of the protest movement decided not to interrupt their vacation in order to return to protest at Moscow with its autumnal and rainy weather. The administrative arrests of the opposition also did not scare anyone, after that the protests became depersonalized. On the one hand, this leads to the fact that new bright and original ideas do not issue from the rally rostrum, but on the other hand this is not the main thing now, considering the protesters' strong emotions.
"Moreover, for the first time since 2012 [following the fraud-ridden 2011 presidential vote], the protest has become fashionable and prestigious. If in December 2011 popular figures began to join the protest against a background of the authorities' indistinct position, now this position is obvious and negative [towards the citizens' activity]. But not showing up at the rally can undermine one's popularity. Therefore, [YouTube star Yuri] Dud, [Russian rapper] Oxxxymiron, and a number of other cult figures of the youth subculture came to Sakharov. Moreover, if in 2011 not all celebrities were useful for protest (the presence of [celebrity journalists] Ksenia Sobchak and Bozhena Rynskaya on opposition rallies repelled the provincials, who negatively reacted to the glamor inaccessible to them), now the 2019 protest figures are idols for young people from the regions. And this is much more serious.
Oxxxymiron (Source: Youtube.com)
Yuri Dud (Source: Rbth.com)
The Authorities Consider Allowing Unregistered Candidates To Contest The Elections An Unacceptable Concession That Will Only Provoke New Demands
"The recipe for fighting protest of 2011–2012 boiled down to three very effective points. The first one is to meet the demands halfway: drag Mikhail Prokhorov to the presidential election (and in Moscow more than 20% of citizens voted for him); restore local governor elections and voting in single-mandate constituencies in the State Duma elections; liberalize the party system; announce the creation of public television (back then the scale seemed larger than it actually turned out to be). At the same time, the main demand of the protesters - a review of the results of the 2011 elections - was not fulfilled. But against the background of the steps listed above, this seemed secondary. The second point is to consolidate and mobilize your supporters under the banner of stability and order (drawing a contrast between the protesters at Bolotnaya and Poklonnaya squares). The third - after the victory at the presidential election and the waning of the protest - the dispersal of the May rally at Bolotnaya square and the subsequent criminal case.
"And what are they doing now? To allow the protest into the electoral field means fulfilling the protesters' main demand, namely, to allow unregistered candidates to contest the elections. The authorities see this as an unacceptable concession that will provoke new demands. The potential for other steps is also limited. The abolition of the municipal filter [for weeding out opposition candidates], for example, can dramatically increase the chances of opposition in gubernatorial elections.
"Mobilization and consolidation of supporters is also problematic. Back in 2017, VTsIOM warned that the importance of stability for Russians is decreasing, and the need for change is increasing. It is clear that a Moscow hipster and a provincial teacher understand these changes differently. But the teacher is much more than a hipster tired of five-year stagnation. And then there was the increase in the retirement age, which has become a trigger for protest sentiments. Interest in foreign policy and trust in television also declined, so an attempt to connect the protest with Western influence will only affect the government's firm supporters.
"Options for maneuvers are limited, so the authorities go right to the third point - arrests in order to squelch the protest wave. But arrests when the movement is on the upswing only stimulate its development. Therefore, so far the arrests and other means of pressure have caused not fear, but emotional discontent. On the one hand, there is a feeling that everyone cannot be detained. On the other hand, the arrests of students who did not resort to violence, statements about the possible deprivation of the parental rights of participants in an unauthorized rally, and other similar irritants contributed to the arrival of new protesters on Sakharov Avenue, the very same generation of parents mentioned above.
By Autumn, Protesters Should Present A Detailed Agenda; Slogans Are Not Enough
"It is unlikely that the authorities will concede in such a situation - for them it is a matter of principle. The same goes for the opposition (and not only because of the large number of participants at the August 10 rally). Let's recall a survey made by the Levada Center, commissioned by the Civil Society Development Fund, [on] how many Muscovites support opposition actions to one degree or another.
"The survey indicates that speakers at rallies have something to say to Moscow. But at the moment, they cannot engage in dialogue with a country that is indifferent to the Moscow elections. Topics that really concern people are prices, pensions, social programs, and the environment. If by autumn the opposition will be able to integrate them into their agenda, then the protest will have a potential for development. It should be understood that by simply mentioning painful topics and making speeches 'on behalf of everything good and against everything bad' one cannot win the votes of the provincials - they want not only statements, but also specific mechanisms for solving problems that concern them. If the opposition will be unable to do this, then the protest will be significant, but local and will therefore fade with time."