Saturday, April 01, 2017

Anti-corruption protests all across Russia this week

Did you know that on March 26 there were anti-corruption protests in over 100 Russian cities? Putin has been in office 17 years. Maybe it is time for him to retire to one or more of his many palaces. The story at The Economist:
...The marches came in response to a call from Aleksei Navalny, an opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner who wants to run for president next year. Despite the government’s crackdown on activism, Mr Navalny has doggedly continued publishing exposés of corruption on social networks and YouTube, and expanding his volunteer organization. His latest target is Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister. On March 2nd Mr Navalny released a film alleging that Mr Medvedev had used charities and shell companies to amass a collection of mansions, yachts and other luxuries. The video has been watched 15m times on the internet.

The decision to target Mr Medvedev was strategic. Whereas Mr Putin is praised for restoring Russia’s geopolitical power, Mr Medvedev is seen as weak and held responsible for Russia’s economic woes. He is often ridiculed for his taste for Western gadgets and frequent gaffes. (“We have no money, but you hang in there,” he told pensioners in Crimea last year.) He is equally disliked by security-service hardliners, such as Igor Sechin, Mr Putin’s closest confidant, and by moderate technocrats such as Aleksei Kudrin, a former finance minister. Yet the protests were not restricted to Mr Medvedev. Denis Lugovskoi, an engineering student who demonstrated in Orel, 325km (200 miles) south of Moscow, says they were aimed at the whole political elite.

Although the crowds were thinner than those in Moscow in 2011-12, they were in some respects more alarming for the Kremlin. The protests of five years ago, sparked by rigged parliamentary elections, were largely confined to Moscow and St Petersburg, and deliberately lacked unified leadership; the educated, urbane protesters considered this a sign of political maturity. Now both demography and geography are much broader. Protests took place in industrial towns in the heartland, such as Nizhny Tagil and Chelyabinsk, and in poorer cities such as Nizhny Novgorod. Meanwhile, Mr Navalny has become the movement’s clear leader. On March 27th a court sentenced him to 15 days in jail for organizing an unauthorized demonstration.
Read more here.

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