31/10/2014 9:58
RIA Novosti

Russia

Pussy Riot Jailing Fails to Boost Street Protests

Topic: Punk Group Pussy Riot Case

Novinsky Boulevard, the spot where three protesters, the only victims of the coup, were ran over by tanks in 1991
19:58 19/08/2012
MOSCOW, August 19 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti)
Tags: White House, Pussy Riot, Boris Akunin, Alexei Navalny, Russia, Moscow

Cyber outrage against the jailing of the anti-Kremlin feminist punk band Pussy Riot failed to spill onto the streets, with the turnout at the first opposition rally to follow the verdict on Sunday being dismally low compared to previous protests.

“We are going keep on coming out in the streets,” said Maya, a 25-year-old gay rights activist in a Pussy Riot T-shirt who declined to give her last name. “What else is there left to do?”

But this time, absence mattered more than presence. Only about 500 protesters, by Radio Liberty's count – the only estimate available – gathered at the rally by the White House in Moscow, compared to tens of thousands who came to previous major protests going on since December.

Granted, the event was more divisive than usual: the formal purpose was to mark the 21st anniversary of a failed coup by Communist Party hardliners, which was stopped by mass protests in Moscow, spelling the end of the Soviet Union. Many leftist activists, a considerable force in the opposition, opted to skip the Sunday protest.

All day, sympathizers came to lay white flowers to the monument on the downtown Novinsky Boulevard, marking the spot where three protesters, the only victims of the coup, were ran over by tanks in 1991.

The turnout at the ceremony did not exceed a couple dozens at any given moment, though people continued to come and go throughout the day. Opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny and protest-minded novelist Boris Akunin were among those who attended.

Someone added a tiny white teddy bear to the heap of white flowers. It sported a white ribbon, a symbol of the recent anti-Kremlin protests, and looked forlorn and alone in a circle of press photographers who outnumbered the mourners.

“It's not like we're expecting anything to change as soon as we step out into the streets,” said protester Lev Brylyov.

“We're creating a vibe, a community that will be ready to react when things start happening,” said Brylyov, 30, a doctor who said he participated in several recent mass protests in Moscow, which unsuccessfully opposed Vladimir Putin's return to presidency.

A biker rode by around 2 p.m. on a roaring motorcycle, slowing down for a second to drop off a heap of white flowers.

Many missed him, however, because at the same time police were busy nabbing a solitary protester who dared to put on a balaclava like those worn by Pussy Riot.

Three members of the feminist punk band were jailed for two years each on Friday for performing an anti-Kremlin song in a church. The judge convicted them, finding them guilty of inciting religious hatred, but group members and most analysts said the verdict was masterminded by the powers that be as a warning for protesters.

Perceived Kremlin offenses against the opposition have boosted protest attendance in the past, but not on Sunday. However, the crowd at the rally that followed the flower laying ceremony did not look cowed either: instead, most people appeared tired and apathetic, like during some tiresome bureaucratic event.

The reaction was predicted by most pundits, who pointed out that the recent protests failed to prompt the Kremlin to enter into dialogue with its critics. Instead, the authorities moved to tighten the screws, passing harsh political legislation, detaining a dozen protesters over riots at a rally in May and searching the homes of opposition leaders.

Party flags were waved and predictable anti-Kremlin speeches were made at the Sunday rally, organized by the liberal opposition party RPR-PARNAS, headed by longtime Putin enemy Boris Nemtsov, one of the speakers.

But many protesters opted to sit out the event on a nearby lawn, squinting in the the hot August sun, talking music or staring into their smartphones instead of paying attention to the stage.

“People were more ready to protest back then,” said Yakov, 79, himself a veteran of the anti-coup protests of 1991 who continues to attend rallies two decades later.

But current protests are part of the same glacial shift toward democracy that began in 1991, said Yakov, who declined to give his last name, saying he is not looking for publicity.

The protest ended without intervention from dozens of policemen hiding in the shade on the rally's fringes. As the crowd drifted toward the subway, it slowly dissipated in the much larger throng who opted for the nearby Moscow Zoo instead of the opposition rally.

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RIA NovostiNovinsky Boulevard, the spot where three protesters, the only victims of the coup, were ran over by tanks in 1991Pussy Riot Jailing Fails to Boost Street Protests

19:58 19/08/2012 Cyber outrage against the jailing of the anti-Kremlin feminist punk band Pussy Riot failed to spill onto the streets, with the turnout at the first opposition rally to follow the verdict on Sunday being dismally low compared to previous protests.>>

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  • lmMake no mistakes the West is slowly building their attack on Russia from whitin and outside.
    18:49, 20/08/2012
    “We're creating a vibe, a community that will be ready to react when things start happening,” said Brylyov, 30, a doctor who said he participated in several recent mass protests in Moscow, which unsuccessfully opposed Vladimir Putin's return to presidency.

    Mr. Putin please take note at the above, these people cannot be just opening there mouths carelessly this is a plot in the makings?
    The Russian protective services should start to weed out these hidden threat which is been slowly been plan for a later date backed by there foreign supporters and sponsors.
    As one of the girls father already calls for a revolution in Russia.
  • lmMr Putin the trap is set take the first strike because they are working overnight to bring down Russia and you.
    20:31, 20/08/2012
    The Russian protective services and law makers should watch this development very closely, very closely, because it seems also that more of this act can take place inside Russia with the West and their conies inside Russia waiting in the shadows to heap criticism on Russia and Putin as a fail state this is all in the game of attacking Russians until the inter country breaks up but this they all will not see.
    Most of the countries if not all who reap criticism on Russia would not tolerate the same act inside the church but they all know why they jump on the band wagon because there are stupid people inside Russia mainly the middle class who has an axe to grind but will end up in the pit themselves.
    If one were to read the Moscow Times newspapers one can see the bias reporting from this media house.

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