Russia: Variations of Dissent

Global Voices Online
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After reading LJ user rudin's report (RUS) from the Dissenters' March that took place in Nizhniy Novgorod this past Saturday, LJ user an_drevv made this ironic remark (RUS):

Judging by the ratio between the participants [police outnumbered the protesters], it looks like the majority of the dissenters were cops, and the locals were just preventing them from expressing their dissent. [...]

According to rudin, the following slogans were featured at the short-lived march: "Russia Without Putin!", "Give People Freedom!", "Fascism Won't Get Through!" There were also two men in the crowd who chanted "Glory to the Russian Nation!" - which rudin found inappropriate, but the police didn't seem to mind.

According to LJ user iriele, who attended the march, too, and even got detained and taken to the police station, there was one more slogan (RUS) out there - and one more reason to join the Dissenters' ranks:

[...] First of all, why did I go there? The main reason - besides a gulp of freedom - is, damn it, solidarity with the slogan "Let's Reclaim Nizhniy [Novgorod]." (Partly borrowed from London's "Reclaim the Streets." Though I've been using these words in some press releases a lot, so it's all in the air.) Everyone can see what the government is doing to the city. Parks are being destroyed and instead shopping malls and elite blocks (ugly, as a rule) are being built [...], last trees are being eliminated from the old center. [...]

All this despite the fact that there are plenty of places suitable for construction in Nizhniy [Novgorod] - deserted industrial spaces that can be restored, for example. [...]

Together with three other residents of Kovalikha, we went to the March, seeing it as an opportunity to draw attention to the attacks on our neighborhood (construction of a highway and skyscrapers right in front of our windows, elimination of the green zones). There are simply no other ways except street protest [...].

As an opponent of the Dissenters' March, LJ user scandal_max would have most likely disagreed with this last statement - even though local (as opposed to federal) mess seems to annoy him no less than it annoys iriele. To illustrate what he believes real democracy is, he quoted his brother's post (RUS) on fighting mess with more mess - here:

Half a year ago, they took away the garbage container from the neighboring backyard. The container used to be placed very conveniently: people living on our side of the street were passing it on the way to the subway station. This is why people from the nearby buildings ignored the removal of the container and continued to leave their garbage where they had been leaving it before.

The municipal authorities put up a sign near where the container used to be: "Residents, please note that the garbage container is no longer in this backyard; the garbage disposal center is now located at this address: ..." People from the nearby buildings ignored this sign and continued to leave their garbage where they were used to leaving it.

Janitors tried not to take the garbage away, assuming that the residents of the building nearby would take initiative in dealing with those who littered. But the residents [...] ignored the janitors' initiative and continued to leave garbage where it lawfully belonged.

And yesterday, the container was finally returned to where it should be. We've spent six months fighting for it. And we have won!

Long live the civil society!

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