Protests could cause more unrest in Russia

In Russia, 370 thousand people demonstrated for the release of the arrested Russian activist and opposition Alexey Navalny. Commenting on the demonstrations in which more than 2 thousand people were detained, the Ukrainian Political Scientist Dr. Viktoriia Demydova said: “Even if there is no aim to change the regime in Russia, the protests can cause more unrest in the country. Russian society has been moving towards revolution in recent years, comparable to revolutions in other Eurasian countries.”

Protests could cause more unrest in Russia

370 thousand people gathered in Moscow, the capital of Russia, protested for the release of the imprisoned Russian opposition Alexey Navalny. Stating that the protests, in which more than 2,000 people were detained, could cause further unrest in the country, faculty member of Istanbul Gelisim University Department of Political Science and International Relations Asst. Prof. Dr. Viktoriia Demydova said that the Russian society has moved towards a revolution comparable to the revolutions in other Eurasian countries in recent years.


Political Scientist Demydova, underlining that 370 thousand people gathered in Moscow despite the coronavirus in the protests supporting the Russian activist and opponent Aleksey Navalny, said: “On December 10, by the decision of the mayor of Moscow, bans on collective action were extended in the Russian capital. In parallel, applications submitted by Navalny supporters to legalize the protests were rejected. This means that all protests are illegal and activists violate Russian law. Despite the risk of Kovid-19 or arrest, approximately 370 thousand people gathered in Moscow. They expressed their basic demands with the slogan "Freedom for Navalny". Protesters don't want regime change, but opposition blogger's release.” She added that the protests here are different from the protests and revolutions in Belarus that were held in response to election fraud.


Stating that the hottest events in 2021 will take place on the social media network known for its short video content for young people, Dr. Demydova said: “Numerous videos began to circulate on the internet in which young people tear Russian passports, dropped President Putin's photos from the walls and replaced them with Navalny's photos. A few days before the protests, videos on social media taught teens how to prepare for mass demonstrations.”


Stating that Roskomnadzor, who controls the Russian media, announced that social networks that encourage underage youth to participate in mass rallies will be punished, Dr. Demydova said: “The Moscow Office of Chief Prosecutor sent warning letters to social networks. According to them, information should not be disseminated about unapproved calls to attend rallies. Also, no distinction is made between the ages of target audience members. On the contrary, emphasis is placed on the obligation to act according to the law in order not to be punished or even imprisoned. The law is quite clear on this subject. As stated in the package of amendments to the Criminal Code adopted in early January 2021, hooliganism, slander, closure of roads and foreign agent are considered criminal cases, and a prison sentence of 2 to 7 years is stipulated. According to the legislation, those who attend mass rallies are likely to get a criminal record that will hinder their education and career in the future.”

Stating that the protests do not aim to change the regime in Russia, they can cause more unrest in the country, Dr. Demydova continued as follows:

“Russian society has been moving towards revolution in recent years, comparable to revolutions in other Eurasian countries. A rapid and smooth regime change should not be expected in Russia. The measures taken also show how afraid Russian officials are of Navalny. But even though Navalny is considered a lawyer, anti-corruption fighter and political activist who excels in online media, his capacity to organize and manage people is severely limited under these circumstances. Also, Navalny's liberal stance on certain issues can be questioned. For example, his interviews on the annexation of Crimea reveal Russia's support for its actions in Ukraine.”
Stating that despite the corruption uncovered by Navalny, Putin's supporters have increased, Dr. Demydova said: "According to the Levada Center survey, while the rate of this support was 59% in May 2020, it increased by 6% in November. The numerous social payments made to families with children in 2020, as well as propaganda threatening Russians with possible consequences similar to the crisis in Ukraine, contributed to this. At the same time, Russian society is still passive and people are afraid to attend rallies. Given the lack of critical approach in the majority of Russians and the economy still stable due to high oil prices, Russia may not see a protest level of action by Belarusians.”

Edited date: 26.01.2021
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