Far More People Protested FOR Putin Than Against, But You Wouldn’t Know It From The Western Media

The above photo, part of a photo report by Ridus, shows the Anti-Orange protest at Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow on February 4th. Does that look like 35,000 people to you, let alone 20,000 or 15,000? Because those were the most commonly cited figures in the Western media, apart from those cases where they ignored them altogether (The Guardian) or even tried passing them off as a ANTI-Putin rallies (e.g. Le Parisien).

Let’s now try to get at the real figures. Attendance at Bolotnaya was respectable; not as high, probably, as the 75,000 or so at Prospekt Sakharova in December, but the photographer Ilya Varlamov’s estimate of 50,000-70,000 is eminently reasonable (reasonable estimates of turnout at the original December 10 rally there range from 30,000 to 60,000). Ridus estimates a lower 25,000-30,000. But regardless of whether the real numbers were closer to 25,000 or 70,000, it is certainly well short of the organizers’ figure of 120,000 that was typically uncritically quoted in the Western media. For it’s not quite dying away, but Navalny’s promise to get one million people onto the streets wasn’t fulfilled either.

Friendship of peoples at Poklonnaya. ;)

RIA has an app that tries to measure rally attendance by calculating areas and crowd densities. They estimate 53,600 for Bolotnaya and 117,600 for Poklonnaya. Back in December, Novaya Gazeta estimated 102,000 for Prospekt Sakharova counting not maximum attendance but the total number of people who arrived and left; the range for max attendance is 60,000-80,000, i.e. 60%-80% of the total figure. The figures quoted by the police on this basis for Poklonnaya is 140,000; applying the same adjustment gives max attendance of 85,000-115,000.

The other two Meetings on February 4th were complete flops. Zhirinovsky got 1000-3000 people, while the liberals-only Meeting with Borovoy and Novodvorskaya and co. got 150-200 despite that they had permission for 30,000.

Anyone, no matter how you spin it, it’s undeniable that the pro-Putin Meeting enjoyed substantially higher attendance than the Bolotnaya one – at least half as much again, and probably double or even triple. So no wonder that the liberals, abetted by the Western and the Russian liberal media, are trying to discredit the former by saying they were all state workers bussed in on the threat of firing. There are anecdotal accounts of this and there’s little doubt some are valid. But do they account for the majority? Probably not. From the videos, they do not look like an unenthusiastic bunch; the speakers enjoy many cheers, and chants of “Glory to Russia” are eagerly taken up.

Ignoring, misrepresenting, and trying to discredit the massive rallies in support for Putin, and in Moscow of all places – the bastion of liberalism in Russia – isn’t going to make it all go away. But it is going to make his supporters angry and all the more determined to vote for him one month hence.

Others odds and ends.

  • Ad for the Anti-Orange Meeting
  • Dystopian scenario of what will happen to Russia if Putin vanishes. EDIT: New link because the democratic heroes at Google decided to censor the old one.
  • Kurginyan, main organizer of Anti-Orange meeting, speaking at Poklonnaya.
  • Aleksandr Dugin.
  • A man at the Poklonnaya protest explains his reasons for going. And another one.
  • Now on to patriotic music instead of all that political nonsense.
  • There IS occasional impartial piece in the Western media that covers both sides, such as this and this, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule.
  • Doku Umarov, the leader of the terrorist Caucasus Emirate, comes out in support of the liberal malcontents. With friends like this…
  • LGBT activist allowed to speak at the St.-Petersburg, roundly booed by intensely homophobic liberal audience. Maybe they they and the Islamic radicals deserve each other?
  • Navalny goes over to the dark side. (Look at the hand)))
  • True Russian patriots.
  • Prokhorov: “I came to the Meeting as a citizen, not as a Presidential candidate.” (pay attention to the photo)
  • So it’s true. Latte-sipping liberalsactually do dislike Putin! Almost half of them would vote for Prokhorov.
  • List of political prisoners opposition demands pardon: Khodorkovsky and Lebedev (who’s surprised?), Arakcheev (waiting for ECHR ruling under chargers of murdering Chechen civilians), and Osipova (political activist whose 10 year sentence for drugs actually is suspicious).
  • Non-related: Did Berezovsky poison Badri, the Georgian tycoon? And rendition a US lawyer for torture in Belarus?

Update: Channel 1 has a balanced report on the Poklonnaya meeting. Look at 1:10 and on for confirmation of the 100,000-scale of the meeting.

http://www.1tv.ru/newsvideo/198305

(h/t Alexandre Latsa)

Comments

  1. “The liberal photographer Ilya Varlamov” is actually a founder of the Ridus agency. He also closely cooperates with pro-government youth movements — it’s a known fact. It’s neither bad nor good, just to clear things up.

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    This has been pointed out in comments to a UK Inependent article on the meetings by someone that attended the pro rally at Poklonnaya gora. This comment immediately received the erudite response from another commenter: You are a liar! (Sounds like Chirikova’s style.) I added a comment with links to photos and an RT video of both pro and anti meetings, inviting readers to judge for themselves, but as is usually the case with the Independent, comments with links are automatically blocked.

  3. When Russia has to resort to showing clips of events in Athens and implying it’s taking place in Russia, then we will have to start worrying that the state is on the ropes and Orangeism is about to triumph. Until then – not so much.

  4. Vinyard of the Saker on the respective rallies. He’s not exactly a Putin fan but prefers him to the alternatives.
    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2012/02/good-day-for-russia-today.html

  5. “Anyone, no matter how you spin it, it’s undeniable that the pro-Putin Meeting enjoyed substantially higher attendance than the Bolotnaya one – ”

    I think you meant “Anyway, no matter how you spin it,…” or maybe “Anyhow, no matter how you spin it,….”

    “So no wonder that the liberals, abetted by the Western and the Russian liberal media, are trying to discredit the former by saying they were all state workers bussed in on the threat of firing. There are anecdotal accounts of this and there’s little doubt some are valid. But do they account for the majority? Probably not. ”

    You know what’s funny such speculation – it implies that the government is able to force tens of thousands of people out to protest in subzero weather and that the people being forced are too stupid not be able to come up with a half-way decent excuse (“I’m sick”, “My spouse is sick”, “My child is sick”, “I have a dental check up appointment”, “I have a doctor’s appointment”). It wouldn’t matter to me whether or not someone threatened to fire me, there is no way I’m going out in weather like that to protest for or against anything.

    I remember on the BBC yesterday there report mentioned that about 50,000 attended the anti-Putin protest and that “tens of thousands too” attended the pro-Putin protest (note they shied away from giving a firmer figure). They also reported that there were claims or speculation that those attending the pro-Putin protest were threatened with job losses and so on, but oddly enough the only person they interviewed in an apparent attempt to support this claim was someone who simply said that his boss was going and invited him along and he said “sure”. No mention of where this guy worked (if it was even a state agency or not) and what the guy said certainly didn’t sound remotely like he was forced.

    “So it’s true. Latte-sipping liberals actually do dislike Putin! Almost half of them would vote for Prokhorov.”

    Hardly surprising. The liberals in Russia seem more and more like a fringe element of the political spectrum and society. I mean who else would really support extending the work week by an additional 20 hours? Or support the freeing of an “oiligarch” (Khodorkovsky) who seems to be linked to suspicious deaths and who evaded paying taxes? Or support an accused murderer (Arakcheev) without waiting for the legal process to be finished? If they left their demand for prisoner releases at just Osipova it would have been better.

    By the way “Arakcheev (waiting for ECHR ruling under chargers of murdering Chechen civilians),”

    You meant “charges” instead of “chargers”, yes? :-)

    • Realistically, if an enterprise were coercing its employees into attending a rally, the only way to ensure compliance is to insist that all go together in a bus, and check people off as they board the bus.
      If people were left to go on their own, then they could just lie to the boss the next day and say they went when they didn’t. How would he prove they didn’t go?
      Speaking of transportation, I am assuming most people took the subway or other public transportation. Private cars not such a good idea – where would you even park?

      • Once again, the western media ignores opinion polls in Russia. Why would the government have to bus in demonstrators if 52% support Putin, 8% support Zhyuganov and Yavlinsky had less than 2% support before he was disqualified due to forged signatures. This is yet more of the BS western narrative about Russian politics where some fringe opposition is the one and only opposition to the tyrannical regime.

      • True, many could use that as a free trip to Moscow and could have gone shopping instead. ;-)

  6. amspirnational says:

    If I’m not asking an irrelevant question, isn’t Dugin standing behind Putin so far?

    • I have not noticed Dugin explicitly declare his support for Putin, or speaking against him. He keeps a favourable, albeit neutral, stance according to what I have observed.

    • Yes, Dugin is moderately positive towards Putin.

      Especially since Putin adopted an unambiguously Eurasian vector to his foreign policy.

  7. Alexander Mercouris says:

    I totally agree with this article.

    I would add that as anyone who knows anything about demonstrations will tell you it is far more difficult to get people to come to demonstrate for a government than against it. By definition one protests against something not for something and indeed to protest for something is actually a contradiction in terms. That is why in Britain conservative rallies are very rare. That so many people came to the pro government rally in Moscow shows just how provoked the government’s supporters have become.

    It seems to me that there is a backlash underway and it is not difficult to see why. Ever since the rally on 10th December 2011 the liberal opposition has been doing everything it can to provoke precisely such a reaction. It has failed to come up with a coherent programme for government that addresses the needs and concerns of the Russian people. It has failed to unite behind a remotely credible candidate for the Presidency. It talks about the great majority of the Russian people with a snobbish arrogance that is little short of astonishing. It describes its supporters as the “creative class”, which must be deeply offensive to those millions of Russians who do actually create things in the farms and in the factories and down mines whilst some members of the opposition like Chirikova and Navalny have referred to ordinary people as “cattle”. It harps endlessly on about Khodorkovsky telling the great mass of ordinary Russians in the process that it cares more about the fate of a corrupt billionaire than it cares about them. It trashes its country before foreigners and denigrates its history and achievements as witness its adoption of such a misguided symbol as the white ribbon and the misguided behaviour of Chirikova & co at the meeting with McFaul.

    Even the choice of 4th February for the date of the demonstration strikes me as completely stupid. Apparently the date was chosen because it coincides with the anniversary of a big anti Communist rally that took place on 4th February 1990 in the crisis that eventually led to the USSR’s collapse. A better way to remind people that the opposition was responsible for and still celebrates the destruction of the USSR and the havoc of the 1990s, which most Russians consider a disaster, it would be difficult to think.

    All of this arises from a total misunderstanding of what happened in the parliamentary elections on 4th December 2011. There was a totally understandable drop in support for the pro government party but the significant thing about that election however you do the numbers is that the liberal parties failed to capitalise on it with their aggregate level of support being no more than 4-5% and that confined almost entirely to a rump of supporters in the two capitals. Even in the two capitals their numbers have now fallen so low that they can only bring the number of people who turn up to their demonstrations up to respectable levels by attracting all sorts of people like Communists, ultra leftists, nationalists and monarchists, who are not liberals. Outside the two capitals they have become to all intents and purposes an extinct species. Given the way they behave it is not difficult to see why or why their antics are provoking the reaction that is now underway.

  8. Alexander Mercouris says:

    I just want to make two quick further observations:

    1. Doubtless some people were bused in to the pro government rally but this is true of all rallies as anyone who has had to organise a rally will know. The suggestion that people were pressured to go to the rally on any significant scale strikes me as silly. Besides Saturday is presumably a day off in Russia, which would surely make organising such a thing rather difficult.

    2. The nature of the rally with a constant flow of people apparently coming and going throughout all the time the rally was taking place on the contrary strongly suggests that the overwhelming majority of people who went did so of their own free will. It is something that is characteristic of rallies and is what one would expect from a rally attended by people who do not usually attend rallies and who are not usually strongly motivated politically, which is what one would expect from pro government supporters. By contrast the opposition rallies more typically are more concentrated with a much larger proportion of the people who turn up doing so at the same time.

    • All just part of the spin game. Sometimes it’s as simple as using different modifiers – “only” 30,000 people, looking like they wished they could be anywhere else and listlessly shuffling their feet in the freezing cold as the government speaker droned on and on, compared with “more than twice the expected 15,000″ jubilant, jostling people who often broke into anti-government chants and had to be good-naturedly quieted by the popular speaker so that he/she could be heard. Both functions had exactly the same number of attendees and the same level of enthusiasm displayed (I made them up, for purposes of example) – which one made you wish you were there?

      If a bus is visible anywhere within a quarter-mile of a pro-government rally and it’s a government the west wishes to discredit, naturally it was hired by the government to transport drafted “supporters” who were threatened with job action by their pro-government employers if they did not show up and shill for the government. All part of the word games used to shape the narrative.

      Unfortunately, although this is very effective in the west, very few in the western audience will be casting a vote in the Russian elections. Those are the people who need convincing, and I doubt they’re buying it. This is why some people regularly get surprised by what happens in Russian politics – because they view it in the context of whether the hack job would have been effective if conducted in an English-speaking country with a docile and easily-manipulated electorate.

      The OTPOR playbook Yalensis so often mentions can work for the government as well as against it. Use humour – when interviewed, follow up with a laugh and say, “…and no, I was not threatened with the Gulag if I didn’t come here, or told I’d have no job tomorrow”. Make fun of the western manipulation. Doubtless such views would not be aired, or reporters would be forced to edit so it looked like the guy said “I was threatened with the Gulag…” (that’s why laughing is important – nobody would smile about that). But it’s important to frame the anti-Putin protesters as dilettantes with time on their hands and fluff in their heads, more to be pitied and ridiculed than anything. Because the “movement’s” supporters are busily framing them as the Russian Everyman; honest, hard-working and fed up, but still with enough of a sense of humour left to laugh at the government. Don’t let them own that image, because you don’t have to. If interviewers get nothing but laughter and ridicule they’ll be forced to use stock footage or a background, and that makes them look less believable.

      • During the December protests we made the observation on this blog that the protests seemed to be attended mainly by “weekend protesters” and it seems to hold even more true today. The best turnouts in December were on the weekends and the next planned protest is for February 26, a Sunday. Unlike what happened in Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia most of the protesters don’t seem to be moved enough to actually protest on the weekdays. Out of the 9 days which had protests over December and February, 6 of them were on the weekend. No doubt we will see a similar pattern after the presidential election – a large protest probably on the day itself (March 4, a Sunday) with claims that the election has been stolen long before the counting has ended. Then we will probably see some smaller protests for the first few days followed by a larger protest on March 10 (the Saturday).

        No doubt the narrative will be that it was stolen from Mikhail Prokhorov and quite a few news outlets will use the one opinion poll which shows Prokhorov getting anything more than 5% support from respondents: http://www.superjob.ru/community/life/62707/

        Don’t know if Anatoly or anyone else can explain what superjob is and how for instance they managed to get a poll which showed Prokhorov getting a massive jump in support in about a week: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_russian_presidential_election#Opinion_Polls

    • Additional evidence that people at the anti-Orange rally are not usually the types who attend rallies: If you look at some of the you-tube videos, the speakers have a hard time working people up into a chant. (Compare this with the Navalnyites, where chanting slogans comes as naturally as rioting does to football hooligans.) Crowd shots of the anti-Orange rally show ordinary people who nod in agreement with what the speakers are saying but feel slightly embarrassed when they are called upon to pick up a chant. These are not professional demonstrators.

  9. Alexander Mercouris says:

    On the subject of the western media, I was wondering how long it would be before it drew a bogus link between the protests in Moscow and Russia’s use of the veto in the Security Council. Well the Guardian was predictably first off the block. Here we are

    Securhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/05/putin-veto-russia-syria

    • Russia and China did the right thing to veto the resolution. They learned their lesson from Libya. (Too bad the Libyan people had to be destroyed so these two great nations could learn a valuable lesson in diplomacy; doesn’t seem like a fair trade, does it?)
      Anyhow, I watched the UN vote on TV, Churkin was magnificient, as usual, and I got a kick out of seeing the grim angry look on the face of that Pindostani b*tch Susan Rice!

    • Yes it’s odd, isn’t it? Between Syria and Iran it surprisingly seems that some are really gunning for wars against these countries. The misinformation on Russia, China, Syria, Libya and Iran is astounding. Just read these articles for insight on how the MSM (or as it is called in the article the “Fawning Corporate Media” or “FCM”) seems to be deliberating ignoring information pointing to the fact that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program nearly a decade ago:

      http://consortiumnews.com/2012/02/01/divining-the-truth-about-iran/

      http://consortiumnews.com/2012/01/24/usisrael-iran-not-building-nukes/

      If Iran gets bombed this year it will likely be over something that hasn’t been happening for 9 years and will probably push Iran to really restart a nuclear weapons program.

      Amazingly given what happened in Libya (a government overthrown but militias remaining and fighting among themselves) and Egypt (with a Muslim-Brotherhood dominated parliament and the detention of over of dozen Americans on charges of promoting unrest) one would think the US government would tread more cautiously with Syria lest something similar happen there.

  10. Does anyone here know the level of public awareness in Russia as to the extent of infiltration of the various opposition parties by the US-based National Endowment for Democracy? Perhaps that could have had some influence on the turn-out for the pro-Putin public rallies.

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      Dear Jen,

      I too would be interested to know. My guess is that though very few Russians have heard of the National Endowment for Democracy a great many and probably the majority know or have some idea of the connections between the liberal opposition and the US. How could it be otherwise when the liberal opposition itself goes out of the way to draw attention to these connections for example by their conduct at the recent meeting with US ambassador McFaul or in their unswerving support for US foreign policy?

      On a separate subject, I heard that the opposition gathered in four columns for its rally and that each column supposedly represented one of the political movements into which the opposition is divided. Does anyone know which was the largest?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I should think that many Russian citizens must now be at the very least aware of USAID’s support for GOLOS – “the only independent election watchdog active in Russia”, to quote Wikipedia and the Western media.

        The NTV channel recently broadcast an exposé on GOLOS, revealing USAID support for that organization. During the NTV documentary, questions concerning GOLOS activities and its foreign financial suppport only provoked off that “independent” organization’s administrators the reply “You are Surkovskaya propaganda! You are Surkovskaya propaganda!” repeated ad nauseam. After her recent meeting with the newly appointed US ambassador, when being pressed by an NTV interviewer about the purpose of her visit to the US embassy, the same moronic response was used once again by the GOLOS director and others in her company that had been favoured by a summons from on high.

        On a more personal observation, I often hear my 12-year-old son and his pals talking about “pindosy” and of how they pay people in Russia to start a revolution. I should add, that I have never indoctinated my children in any way as regards politics and only inform them to keep an open mind and draw their own conclusions. Nevertheless, I am sure that my boy’s playmates’ opinions have only been engendered by what they have overheard in their parents’ conversations.

    • I suggest you watch this for public awareness in action:

      Most common people probably do not really realise how deep the rabbit hole goes, but are aware enough to have the right opinion.

      • Thanks, @Leos, I really enjoyed that video! It pretty much tells the whole story, I particularly liked the bit at the end where the street-sweepers have to clean up all the garbage left behind by Princess Chirikova and her suite!

    • Hi, Jen, I think the Putin message-machine has started to work to make people aware of those facts. Since the opposition demonstrations began a couple of months ago, pro-Putin forces have recently cranked out some fairly effective propaganda pieces exposing the Orange-oids as agents of foreign powers.

      Note to Anatoly: For Jen’s benefit I was going to cite the link you posted above: “Dystopian scenario”, the “Russia without Putin” video which I watched with great enjoyment yesterday, but I see that it has now been removed by you-tube, with a comment
      This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.
      Sorry about that.

      Shocking and disgusting? Baloney! That is outrageous censorship! The video was no more shocking or disgusting than a million other videos on you-tube. You can logon to you-tube to view real-life scenes of lynchings, rape and torture, in Libya, for example. You can see just about any horror on you-tube. But you can’t see a fairly tame pro-Putin propaganda piece?? Arggggg! (I really liked that video too, it was put together really well. The only part I didn’t like was the sly jab at gay people, implying that they are all part of the pro-Western anti-Russian agenda. I am betting that there are plenty of patriotic gays in Russia, they just need to stay deeply hidden in their closets, at least for now!)

      • Thanks to all who replied to my question about possible US interference.

        @ Yalensis and AK: Thanks for the video, I did see it. Actually quite a good film clip too. I don’t know any Russian but as political propaganda goes, it looks less crude than what we get on Australian TV during election periods.

        • Anatoly posted the new link to the clip above (thanks, Anatoly!), and I watched it again. Quick summary of plot line for those who don’t know Russian (actually, I wish somebody would produce a version with English subtitles, because this is a real classic of noir propaganda):
          March 2012. Orange opposition wins via massive street protests. Russian presidential elections are postponed, and Duma is dispersed. Transitional government is formed, led by Nemtsov, Navalny and Chirikova. Leaders of Free World (Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel) welcome the new government in Russia. All the main state-owned businesses of Russia go into the hands of the new ruling triumvirate. They hand over Russia’s nuclear capability to USA for monitoring and control.
          So far, so good. But sure enough, faction fights break out within the new government. Economic crisis follows: bankruptcy, hyper-inflation, poverty, unemployment. Far-right fascist parties come to power in Petersburg. Regions begin to secede, and Russia starts to breaks up. And all this just within the first year!
          March 2013. After a cold and hungry winter, Russian break up continues as one region after another secedes. North Caucasus emirate is formed, creating a wave of hundreds of thousands of refugees who do not want to live under Islamic law. Things get so bad that Navalny defects to America. The faction-driven transitional government continues to disintegrate.
          June 2013. NATO sends peacekeeping troops into Kalinigrad to “protect peaceful civilians”. China and Japan also have to send peacekeeping contingents to keep order in the Far East. Japan seizes Vladivostok.
          August 2013. Gruzian army attacks Russia, occupies all of Ossetia and Krasnodar region. In conjunction with this, forces of the North Caucasian Emirate destroy the last remnants of the Russian Cossack forces. Leaders of the Free World (those same Obama-Sarkozy-Merkel) cluck their tongues and declare a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Russia.
          December 10, 2013. This is my favorite part of the movie: Navalny’s international triumph. He is awarded TWO Nobel Prizes: the Peace Prize AND the literature prize, for his memoir “One Year at the Helm”.
          February 2014. Gruzia conducts the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi (‘cause, see, they own Sochi now). The Russian team is not allowed to attend, because Russian Federation does not exist any more.
          Note: I could swear that this version is slightly different than the one I saw before. Somebody must have edited it, it’s a lot better now, and they also removed that anti-gay jab.

  11. I’m revising my estimates for the Bolotnaya rally.

    I think I was seduced by the photos of the tightly-packed columns trundling through the streets, but that may have been deceptive because (1) the streets are narrow and create a false impression of mass and (2) some people may well have later dropped out.

    Please compare these two photos. The first is of the Bolotnaya Meeting on Dec 10. The main street is jam-packed, and there are dense crowds amidst the trees.

    The second is of the Bolotnaya Meeting on Feb 4. The main street is now loosely-packed, and there is hardly anyone amidst the trees.

    Conclusion: I think that police DID underestimate Dec 10 and Dec 24 Meetings (actually 50-60k and 60k-80k there), but this latest one really did have only 25k-35k. This tallies with the Ridus estimate.

    • AK, aren’t there any pictures taken from the same angle that could be used as a comparison? And how does the Dec 10 picture compare with the pro-Putin rally at Poklonnaya?

      As an aside, if the figures for the protests did go from 50-60k to 60-80k and then all the way down to 25-35k what would that mean for the next planned “Meeting”?

      • It means the Orange Opposition has crested. (At least for now.) They made 2 fatal errors: (1) They waited a whole month between rallies, giving anti-Orange forces valuable time to organize; and (2) that little jaunt to the U.S.embassy really killed them with the Russian public. It shows how deluded they are that they thought everybody would be okay with that.

    • In both cases if you remove the red banner squad it looks like you get less than 50% of the original total left. Without the KPRF these protests would probably not even have materialized. Just more of the same street block theater by a few hundred “other Russia” liberasts. So none of these anti-Putin demonstrations should be treated as pro-liberast manifestations.

  12. Сурковская пропаганда vs. Oppositionist балаган:

  13. Ericaa Brigid says:

    Rusfact http://www.rusfact.ru/news/chto_pishut_oppozicionnye_smi_o_mitingakh/2012-02-06-11277 shows city buses lined up to take attendees from Poklonnaya gora. The buses were brought in by city authorities because the metro station could not handle such a volume of passengers. Significant is the fact that there are no pictures of crowds getting off buses at Poklonnaya. That is because they arrived by conventional transport, and not all at once. It was when the crowd grew to six figures, and would be likely all to leave at the same time, that the authorities brought in buses to take the flood off the Metro (which still got mobbed).

    • Moscow Exile says:

      There are several videos on the net that show Park pobedy (Victory Park) metro station jam-packed with people going to Poklonnaya gora on 4th February 2012. I know that place well. The metro station is one of the many newly built ones in Moscow and is, I believe, the deepest underground railway station in the world. The connecting tunnel that leads from the escalators to the street exit, which is close to the victory arch on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, is quite long. The vast majority of people that attended the “anti-Orange” meeting at Poklonnaya went by public transport; they weren’t bused there: that’s yet another example of Western media mendacity. In fact, I should go as far as to say that there were probably very few Western journalists at Poklonnaya and that the majority of them were swarming around Bolotnaya Square hopefullly waiting for Navalny’s “millions” to appear.

      The video below shows scenes at Poklonnaya gora and at Victory Park metro station on Saturday, 4 february 2012. The condensation from the demonstrators’ breath as they walk along the tunnel and come into contact with the surface air that was at minus 22C at 2pm that day can clearly be seen. As I have mentioned earlier, the demonstrators seem to be mostly working class – no artistic, student types in fancy dress displaying sardonic slogans can be seen anywhere: in other words, few students and members of the bourgeoisie seem to have been there. I am sure that Ksusha Sobchak wasn’t amongst the crowd. Nevertheless, some of the demonstrators seem to be enjoying themselves, something that Western journalists suggest only happens at the “ebullient” protests againsts the evil Sauron.

      Note that one of Chirikova’s pals has added a comment to the video, stating that the demonstrators were paid 500 rubles to go to Poklonnaya and that they were “slaves of the scoundrels and thieves”. The video is entitled “Митинг на Поклонной горе 4 февраля 2012″ (Meeting at Poklonnaya Hill, 4 February, 2012):

  14. Alexander Mercouris says:

    The Guardian is publishing a heavily edited version of Putin’s latest article. Here it is as the Guardian has published it

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/07/russia-reject-corruption-modern-democracy

    Notice the heavy editing, which entirely distorts the meaning of the article. The Guardian deletes the crucial paragraph at the beginning of the article in which Putin says that the reform process that followed the end of Communism was hijacked by a bunch of corrupt oligarchs leaving the entire population destitute thereby bringing the whole concept of democracy into disrepute. Instead the Guardian jumps directly to more heavily edited comments in which Putin appears to say that through combined efforts the country under his leadership was able to escape “anarchy and oligarchy”. The Guardian fails to say that Putin borrowed the expression “anarchy and oligarchy” from a nineteenth century philosopher by the name of Pavel Novgorodtsev or that this person was making the point that democracy is something that has to be learnt and worked for and which cannot simply be proclaimed.

    The effect of such editing is to alter the meaning and impression of the whole article. In the original article Putin makes clear that he is a democrat who with the support of the people led the country out of a crisis in which it had been taken over by a bunch of corrupt oligarchs saving democracy in the process and doing so without resort to arbitrary and dictatorial methods thereby creating the necessary conditions upon which a firm democracy can be built. Through its editing the Guardian makes Putin instead sound like another strongman bragging about how he defeated “anarchy and oligarchy” whose comments about democracy therefore sound insincere.

  15. slavixtube says:

    Проамериканские СМИ России ведут войну против Путина
    А западные СМИ их цитируют
    http://t.co/3gBgYfdk

  16. Here’s my counter to the Associated Press (“bringing truth to the world”) claim that Poklonnaya Gora rally was “no more than 20,000″.
    This claim — do the Google search — has been picked up by hundreds if not thousands of news outlets around the world and will now become The Meme.
    Personally I am a great believer that one should never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity, but AP’s “truth” is so far from the reality that I am wavering in my conviction. The meme now is that there are huge and ever-bigger anti-Putin protests that are countered by feeble and faked pro-Putin turnouts and so the ground is being prepared for the assertion that Putin’s victory in March will be a fraud. Or is it just lazy journo-school graduates believing the usual sources so long as they fit in with the pre-conceived scheme? The MSM gets a LOT of things wrong, not just Russia.

    But I agree with most of the commentators here — the anti-Putin force has peaked and has managed to really piss off “the silent majority”.

    http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2012/02/who-ya-gonna-believe.html

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      Dear Patrick,

      Thank you for this.

      Like many people who read this and your blog I have always felt that there was to put it mildly a disconnection between the way Russia is reported and Russia as it is. However I have to say that I think that on Saturday a line was crossed. If the western media cannot see a 120,000 person rally when it happens right in front of it then it has lost contact with reality.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And that “silent Majority” – that huge silent majority – does not live in Moscow and St. Petersburg and is not bourgeoise or consist of students, artists and other idealistic dreamers.

      That silent majority wants a roof over its head, bread (and yes, for many, vodka as well!) on the table, steady employment and the opportunity to better itself, and that means more money in its pocket; “freedom” and “democracy” neither pays the rent nor feeds the kids: it’s just icing on the cake.

      Many of that silent majority have previously voted for the KPR and would have voted for the KPR this March, but not now, not after the KPR’s allying itself with “liberals” and nationalists and accepting invitations for chats with the US ambassador and expressing its desire to liberate Khodorkovsky. That silent majority dislikes the Khodorkvskys of this world. That silent majority does not log into Robert Amsterdam’s St. Mikhail of the Gulag web site: they know and recognise the Abramoviches, the Berizovskys, the Deripaskas etc. for the shysters they are – because they were impoverished by them; that silent majority doesn’t give a shite for Ksusha Sobchak’s opinions.

      It was, I am sure, largely Moscow members of that silent majority that gathered at Poklonnaya gora on February 4th, and if some of them accepted a handout for doing so, good on them!

      It is that silent majority about whom that pompous, monstrous, bourgeoise megagob Yulia Latynina was thinking when she penned the following words:

      “Unfortunately, only wealthy people are truly capable of electing their leaders in a responsible manner. Poor people elect politicians like Yanukovych or Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez”.

      It is that same Latynina that supports the low taxation of the megarich in Russia and the elimination of social security, no doubt because the megarich have no need of it.

      It is that same Latynina that wrote not quite one year ago:

      “With Putin looking more like Tsar Nicholas II, the smell of February 1917 is clearly in the air. It is the smell of a confused, wounded and weakened leader and a bureaucratic class standing dazed before the public eye. It is the smell of blood in the water”. (Moscow Times, 2nd March 2011)

      I am sure Latynina was taught in her Soviet school that the Russian February 1917 revolution was a bourgeoise one.

      And such a bourgeoise revolution is about to take place again?

      Dream on, Yulia! Dream on!

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        Dear Moscow Exile,

        Is it possible that Latynina is actually a Putinist agent who has infiltrated the opposition in order to discredit it? I suppose what disproves this theory is that most of the others are as ridiculous as she.

        On the subject of Putin as the new Nicholas II facing his February 1917 moment, I would have thought that Latynina would be wary of making that comparison if only because after February there was October and we all know who came in then.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Latynina is at it again in today’s Moscow Times with her comparison of the present political situation in Russia and that of the revolutionary past. She writes:

          “Every failed revolution is followed by a serious repercussion. Considering that the current ‘White revolution’ is bound to fail, turmoil awaits this country after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is inaugurated as president in May. And it will be a powerful repercussion, like the one that followed the failed revolution in 1905″.

          Seems she hasn’t heard of the post-1905 introduction of the fundamental law, the founding of the Duma, the introduction of agrarian reforms initiated under Stolypin’s ministry, that the Russian Economy was receiving massive investment from Britain and France and was integrating with global trade, that post-1905 Russia had the fastest growing economy in Europe and its population was the fastest growing with a 130% increase per year, and, the obduracy of the autocrat and his advisors notwithstanding, that what put the blocks on all of this was the outbreak of an imperialistic war in Europe.

          She then goes on to compare “Putin’s system” with fascism and concludes:

          “Mark my words: Russia is in for some really hard times after Putin’s inauguration. Failed revolutions are always followed by serious reaction”.

          Glad to see that she admits that her bourgeoise “revolution” has failed.

          See:

          http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/alpha-dog-cant-save-russia/452570.html

          • Alexander Mercouris says:

            Dear Moscow Exile,

            This is a very interesting article by Latynina and it tends to confirm the view that following the events of Saturday the liberal opposition is becoming demoralised. Read it carefully and it shows that she has now despaired of her “revolution” and no longer expects its success.

            As for the cliches claiming that Putin is a fascist and comparing him with the likes of Mussolini, Marcos and Duvalier, we can ignore them.

  17. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Another article about the Saturday rallies and discussing the Russian Silent Majority this time by the Israeli publicist Israel Shamir writing on Counterpunch

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/07/the-tug-of-war-in-moscow/

    Israel Shamir is to put it mildly a controversial figure. He is a friend of Julian Assange and a strong supporter of the Palestinian movement. He has converted from Judaisim to Orthodoxy and has made comments that unfairly in my opinion have been condemned as Holocaust Denial. He has also been called an anti Semite, which he denies. There are suggestions, which he also denies, that he has leaked confidential data about Byelorussian dissidents to Lukashenko’s serious police. Whatever the truth of these claims on Russian affairs he is a shrewd and knowledgeable observer as this article shows.

    • A most interesting and thoughtful piece altogether, thank you for mentioning it.

      It also reminds us that the size of the Pok Gor demo was not anticipated given the number on the application of 15K. Silent majority indeed.

      So are we finally seeing the emergence of real politics in Russia? I think so.

    • Thanks for the Shamir piece, I read it with great interest. I would have to say, it one of the best analyses I have read of the current turmoil in Russia and the various forces involved. I like Shamir’s analysis of Putin as a “compromise” figure who inadvertently summons forces (=the patriotic Russian heartland) of which he himself is partially unaware. Evidence of this is when Putin remarked that he was “surprised” by the number of people who turned out for the Poklonnaya, and I believe his surprise was sincere. I believe future historians will write about Putin as a kind of Napoleon Bonparte of the 20th-21st century (although without the endless military campaigns), in the sense that Bonaparte was a compromise figure bridging revolution and counter-revolution.

    • I’ve come across Israel Shamir’s writing on other websites and am aware that he’s been accused of being chummy with Alexander Lukashenka in Belarus. The Counterpunch.org writers do get smeared a lot with accusations that usually prove false (and most of these accusations originate in Britain’s best right-wing newspaper L’Ndranguardia aka The Guardian).

      I attach a lot of importance to writers like Shamir and Gilad Atzmon who are former Jewish believers or Israeli citizens as I think that, having grown up with Zionism as their major belief system, they know best how it’s changed over the years and understand its relation (or not) to the Jewish religion or some of its aspects at least.

      • Robert Kafka says:

        Israel Shamir

        The Counterpunch.org writers do get smeared a
        lot with accusations that usually prove false (and most of these accusations originate in Britain’s best right-wing newspaper L’Ndranguardia aka The Guardian).

        Norman Finkelstein is quoted in Tablet Magazine saying about Shamir “He has invented his entire personal history. Nothing he says about himself is true”.

        His Jewish Problem

        Israel Shamir is a slippery Holocaust-doubter whose anti-Semitic, anti-Israel views are—in the age of WikiLeaks—finding a new audience. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/67305/his-jewish-problem/

        • Robert,

          The same writer you quote, Will Yakowicz, has also described Norman Finkelstein as a Holocaust doubter who sees the Holocaust as a Jewish propaganda invention to scam money off people and countries and to silence dissent. But I ask, why would Finkelstein risk his job, long-term career and academic reputation, and deny his family history (because his parents were concentration camp survivors), simply to say that the Israel government and its lobbyists in Washington DC and elsewhere is exploiting the memory of the Shoah for their own ends?

          Among other things, Finkelstein has also called attention to the fact that the Israeli government has neglected the health needs of Shoah survivors who live in Israel. Does that sound like a Holocaust doubter?

          Next you’ll be saying Gilad Atzmon is also a Holocaust doubter.

          • Right-wingers sometimes accuse American dissident Noam Chomsky of being a holocaust-denier. He is not that. They just try to punish him for being pro-Palestinian. It is a common smear, especially against Jewish thinkers. There are only a handful of true holo-deniers in the world, they are by and large neo-Nazis, not left-wingers. On Mark’s blog I posted a quote I found in wikipedia where Shamir explains his position on holocaust. He does not deny that it happened as a historical fact. He is just sick of having it crammed down his throat as justification of current Israeli foreign policy. He also denies that Hitler’s massacre of Jews is a unique event in history. That is a fact too: many genocides have happened throughout history (native Americans, Jews, Armenians, Cambodians, Rwandans, etc etc), and continue to happen now. A genocide is happening, in Libya, right now, even as we speak = the genocide against ethnic sub-Saharan Africans; this genocide is being committed by the NTC/Al Qaeda transitional government installed by NATO, with much assistance on the part of Israel.

    • So it was not so much a pro-Putin rally, as it was an anti-anti-Putin rally. This helps to explain the attendance and the atmosphere. I was a little confused how a Yeltsin-appointee who shares most (though not all) of his predecessors bad sides could arouse such enthusiasm, but this helps understand it. It wasn’t really about him.

  18. Robert Kafka says:

    It’s getting a few years ago “Israel Shamir”, alias Izrail Schmerler, alias Jöran Jerma, alias Adam Ermash with credibility coulstatements that Palestine is less an ordinary state than a headquarters of the Jewish plan for world domination, and declarations of support for Holocaust deniers David Irving.

    It now turns out that Ermash / Shamir also wrote the foreword to an English edition of the Protocols of Zion displayed. Edition, published in 2008, is published by the Institute for Historical Review, which since 1978 has been a leading exponent of holocaust revisionism and denial. There is reason to believe that this will make it even harder for Ermash / Shamir to keep what little he may have left of credibility as a writer.

    Ermas / Shamir has recently been active in the Wikileaks, where he is responsible for conveying leaking material to the Russian media while his son has the corresponding responsibility for Scandinavia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_E._Marsden

    Edition seems to be a reprint of an English edition from 1923, translated by Victor Marsden.
    Marsden (1866-1920) was a British journalist who spent the years before World War in Russia, where he acquired much of the ideas that featured ultra-conservative circles in the Russian Orthodox Church and the secret police, that these same communities that sprang protocols from. Its March issue is considered one of the most influential versions of the protocols, and was as late as 2005 in sales in the UK

    • Robert,

      For every suggestion and insinuation that Wikileaks is agitating or working against the Israeli state and Zionism, the Internet manages to throw up something else that suggests Wikileaks is an Israeli disinformation project or that Julian Assange approves of Binyamin Netanyahu. Just look at these examples:
      http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2034040,00.html
      http://www.sikharchives.com/?p=6604

      I have seen Internet rumours that in the past Wikileaks accepted funding from an agency or agencies connected indirectly to the Israeli government. When Wikileaks first started leaking US diplomat cables on Middle Eastern topics, there was a strange dearth of leaked cables about Israel or topics relating to Israel and Israeli interests in that part of the world.

      I’m sure if I looked up enough stuff on Israel Shamir, he’ll turn out to be a relative of Peter Rachkovsky who wrote the original protocols. No doubt someone is working on the genealogy already.

  19. At Bolotnaya demo in December, oppositionists demanded to “Free all political prisoners”. Russian government responded with “There are no political prisoners in Russia. If you think otherwise, then show us a list.”
    Opposition responded with this list of 39 persons whom they regard as political prisoners.
    The list is in alphabetical order, so you have to look all the way down to #35 to see Khodorkovsky’s name! Aside from him and Lebedev, I have not heard of any of these people.

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      Dear Yalensis,

      Since the oppositon claims that Putin is a dictator heading a corrupt and repressive regime they have to claim that there are political prisoners. If there are no political prisoners there is no repression in which case Putin is not a dictator.

      The allegation is however causing the opposition problems as the following interesting piece in Novosti makes clear:

      http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20120209/171229834.html

      It seems that even the opposition cannot agree on who is a political prisoner and who is not. I was interested to see that Limonov does not consider Khodorkovsky a political prisoner. As a “National Bolshevik” how could it be otherwise? I wonder what view Udaltsov takes of him? Anyway the fact that the opposition is struggling to come up with a convincing list of political prisoners on whom everybody can agree rather undermines the idea that there are any.

      Just a few comments:

      1. As I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog Russia is a signatory of the European Convention of Human Rights and submits to judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. If any of the people on the list are indeed political prisoners then they have the right to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights, which if it finds that they actually are political prisoners will order their release.

      2. I should add that Russia’s position on the European Convention of Human Rights and on the European Court of Human Rights is substantially better than Britain’s. There is so far as I know no movement in Russia to withdraw from the Convention. There most definitely is in Britain where decisions of the European Court of Human Rights are routinely challenged by politicians and by the popular and conservative press. We have recently had a bout of such complaints in a case where the European Court of Human Rights ordered the British government not to deport a radical Islamic cleric. There are constant calls here backed by no less a person than Cameron himself and supported by conservative newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail for Britain to withdraw from the Convention and to reject the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

      3. When Khodorkovsky took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with his first conviction the European Court of Human Rights decided that he was not a political prisoner. There is of course a pending case in relation to the second conviction but the odds must be strongly against the European Court of Human Rights finding him a political prisoner in relation to that conviction either. The first conviction related to tax evasion charges whilst the second conviction was basically about fraud on minority shareholders in the Yukos subsidiary companies. The fact that the second conviction arose out of essentially the same set of facts that brought about the first conviction is not a reason to doubt the second conviction (as Medvedev’s Human Rights Council seems to think) but on the contrary a good reason to trust the second conviction and to discount a political dimension to that prosecution as well. If I am right about this it will be interesting to see how Amnesty International in particular responds and whether it will continue to claim that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are prisoners of conscience.

      4. When I was in Oxford last weekend I came across a most unpleasant leaflet that alleged that the Russian authorities were persecuting Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky because they are Jewish and that the anti semitic Russian government was picking only on oligarchs who are Jews. I wonder how long it will be before that allegation finds its way to Russia?

      5. Apparently the only case on the list about which there are genuine questions is that of Osipova who was a member of a far left group and who was convicted of possessing drugs her lawyer says were planted on her. That is certainly possible. I would however just add one word of caution. It is a commonplace that members of far left groups get drawn into alternative lifestyles so it is not intrinsically impossible that someone like Osipova might have done so and that this might have involved a drugs habit. Having said this I still think she ought to be released because by most accounts she is a vulnerable person who should not be in prison and I do not think people should be sent to prison for possessing drugs (as opposed to dealing in them) anyway.

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        Dear Yalensis,

        I have just done a quick check and it seems that the liberals cannot even agree about Osipova with Latynina no less calling her a drug addict. Others are denying this. It seems that Medvedev having learnt nothing from the Khodorkovsky and Magnitsky fiascos when he met with the students at MGU said he would look into her case (not again!) and advised her to apply for parole (is he her lawyer?). Anyway none of this changes anything that I said before or the fact that I don’t think she should be in prison.

      • I agree with every word, Alex. I will add just two more points.

        I have Googled a few of those names. Some are sitting under Article 282, i.e. “Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity.” Some, especially the nationalists understandably, want it removed. I agree with them, not to foster racism etc. but because I like free speech. Nonetheless, Russia is hardly alone in criminalizing some forms of speech. See European Holocaust denial laws, or similar anti-extremist laws; British laws against “glorification of terrorism” (was the “Lyrical Terrorist” a political prisoner? Though to Britain’s credit, she was released on appeal); and even in the US, land of the First Amendment, there have been several prosecutions for “material support for terrorism.” What is this “material” support? Jubair Ahmad was convicted for uploading a 5 minute Islamist propaganda video on YouTube and faces up to 15 years in prison.

        Second, in fairness, some of the people on those list – like Osipova – seem to have been simple miscarriages of justice (e.g. Belousov, who appears to have been sent to prison for nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time). This however is indicative of the general lamentable state of the Russian “justice” system, which hands down guilty verdicts in 99% of cases. How that makes him a political prisoner I do not know. But some of the names on that list, I think, fully deserve to be there. MBK and Lebedev, obviously. But also Baranovsky, who was convicted of extortion to the tune of several million dollars with the use of death threats, i.e. what is called “raiding” in Russia. What the opposition gains from associating with his likes I don’t know but then again moderation was never their strong suit. I think someone should go through that list and identify who is actually, with high likelihood, wrongfully convicted (if not an actual political prisoner); and who’s there just to fill the list.

        • Alexander Mercouris says:

          Thanks for alll this Anatoly!

          I need hardly say that I agree with you about Article 282 and of course I also agree with you about the British Terrorism Acts (including the law about “glorifying terrorism”) which are an abomination.

        • Dear AK and Alex,

          We had a case in Australia in which a Pakistani student was incarcerated in a detention centre and then deported back home over “suspicious” phone calls to Pakistan.

          Apparently some of his relatives had donated money to a charity that might or might not be linked to the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. That was the only reason for the man’s arrest.

          I’m sure if the relatives had known of the charity’s link they would never have donated anything in the first place. (And for all I know the link may be casual, one-off links.) I donate money to MSF and another charity that helps women in Third World countries set up their own businesses and become self-sufficient and how do I know if these groups are fielding undercover spies in some countries where they operate? (I do hear the odd rumour about MSF in that regard!)

          More details about the student’s arrest and deportation can be found here at these links:
          http://defenceforumindia.com/pakistan/29891-pakistan-student-deported-australia-over-phone-calls.html
          http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jan2012/asio-j18.shtml

          This case received very little publicity in Australia which makes me wonder whether there are not more cases like it happening off my radar.

          • I kow Médecins du Monde is rotten to the core, but I don’t know bad thing about Médecins Sans Frontières. Maybe the rumors have them mixed up.

        • In Russian law, is it not the case that the prosecution has a big advantage over the defense? Anybody who is charged is assumed guilty and has to prove himself innocent. Hence the high conviction rate. Being unjustly convicted is not the same thing as being a political prisoner, though.

          • Alexander Mercouris says:

            Dear Yalensis,

            I can quite definitely say that in theory in Russian law there is a presumption of innocence just as there is in every other modern criminal jurisdiction. The problem is (and the point your comment touches on) that judges seem to be extremely prosecution minded and have a tendency to accept as true whatever the prosecutor tells them. There have been attempts to remedy this by introducing juries but the attitude is so deeply entrenched that it will require time and hard work before it is changed.

            There is one point however I do want to make. This is that the victims of this sort of bias will not not be the high profile internationally famous individuals such as Khodorkovsky. In those sort of cases one can be sure that the judicial system will be careful to do its best if only because it is under the international spotlight. Also the defendants in these cases are able to draw on well qualified and highly paid lawyers to represent them. The victims in Russia of judicial bias and corruption on the contrary will on the contrary be overwhelmingly poor vulnerable people like Osipova of whom there must be tens of thousands. The western media and the liberals in Russia never show any interest in these people most of whom are of course unknown except to their immediate acquaintances. Osipova is an exception that proves the rule.

            I say this with confidence because the same is of course true everywhere else though judging by the statistics the situation in Russia is especially bad.

            I ought to say that here again the contrast between Medvedev and Putin is a striking one. Medvedev though he talks a lot about legal nihilism has consistently shown much more interest in high profile cases and in the fate of imprisonment businessmen and such like. By contrast such penal reforms as there have been have tended to be pushed by Putin, whose Presidency also saw a very real improvement in prison conditions and who shows a consistently greater interest than Medvedev in the way the law works for poorer and more vulnerable people. His proposal to set up local administrative courts instead of obliging people to rely on procuratorial intervention (an excellent idea by the way) is a case in point.

        • “What the opposition gains from associating with his likes I don’t know..”

          I can sum up what the gain from associating with people like him in one simple word:

          “money”

          It surely is no coincidence that a some of the people who they are claiming are political prisoners are more deserving of the “crooks and thieves” label than any of the politicians they are railing against. Between Khodorkovsky and Baranovsky alone they must be getting some tidy sums to keep them going (otherwise they would probably have long since collapsed electorally and not even gained seats in any local elections…).

          • Alexander Mercouris says:

            Good news on the Osipova front. I understand that a Court has now quashed her conviction on the grounds that it is unsafe. Presumably she will now be released.

  20. Moscow Exile says:

    Another gem of a comment in today’s Moscow Times by someone who forecasts dire consequences if the government reaction to the “opposition” protests turns violent.

    “Nonviolent revolutions do not always remain nonviolent…” begins the article, and the commentator closes by warning “…Putin would be well advised to heed the protesters’ demands and hold new and fair parliamentary elections. If he opts for violent confrontation, the short-term outcome will be decided by the loyalty of the armed forces. His long-term fate, however, would be much grimmer”.

    The contributor also considers the problems that the “opposition” would face in such a vast country as is Russia “if things come to a head and, say, Putin refuses to accept a defeat in the March election”.

    On which planet does the person that wrote this MT comment live? Has he not noticed that an outstanding feature of these “opposition” protests of late is that there has been no violence and there have been no arrests?

    Probably not, as we are informed that the commentator, a certain Mischa Gabowitsch, is a research fellow at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany.

    How do they find these people?

    And who are these inane comments targeted at?

    See: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/violent-reaction-to-protests-could-bury-putin/452709.html

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      The article gets madder and madder the further down it goes. There is also some interesting historical revisionism. I particulaly liked the bit about the Chinese authorities unleashing the Mongol hordes to suppress the protests in 1989 in Beijing.

    • My favorite recent MT article is this masterpiece by Michael Bohm.

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    What a turn around! The Moscow News, which, in my opinion, has only been luke warm in its attitude towards the present government, has today a banner headline declaring “Paying tribute to Putin”, with the sub-headline “At Saturday’s monster pro-Putin rally on Poklonnaya Gora, ‘stability’ was the watchword”.

    Meanwhile, back in La-La Land that irepressible Mikhail Gorbachev has stated that “Putin has exhausted his potential” according to a UK Independent article written by Nataliya Vasilyeva, another Moscow Times hack, who informs the reader “Mr Gorbachev recently urged Mr Putin to give up power and annul the results of December’s fraud-tainted parliamentary vote, which triggered the anti-Putin rallies.”

    See: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/putin-has-exhausted-his-potential-says-gorbachev-6699787.html

    As pointed out by Lord Snooty in the comments section of the article, Old Mikhail was appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party by the Politburo. His last job was on appointment by the Party machine, and here he is giving lectures on parliamentary democracy. Oh the irony!

  22. Opposition planning their next action on February 26: A “living chain” of 34,000 people silently holding hands and completely encircling the inner ring of the Sadovoe Kol’tso in Moscow:

    http://www.rosbalt.ru/moscow/2012/02/09/944079.html

    Sounds pretty lame to me. Opps must be smarting from their defeat on Feb. 4. What happened to the “Million Muscovite” march? Ha!

    • Sounds vaguely like the human chain protest that was formed back in 1989: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Way

      Of course that particular human chain needed way more than 34,000 to actual achieve it’s aim and had been drawing on a much smaller population base.

      That they would only expect 34,000 though is basically an admission that the anti-government protest movement has stalled or gone into reverse. AK’s latest estimate is that double that much people were actually in the December protests based on comparison pictures. That they wouldn’t aim to have at least the same number that they claimed attended the Feb 4 protest (120,000) seems odd.

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        I agree. All the indicators are that the protest movement is becoming demoralised and is starting to lose momentum. The reduced turnout last Saturday and the pro Putin protest in Moscow was a shock and the turning point.

        I have gradually come round to the view that a major contributor to the decline of the protest movement has been McFaul. Since he became ambassador he has been constantly on the news, meeting opposition leaders, appearing on Moscow Echo radio, giving interviews etc. I cannot think of a better way to show to Russians that it is he rather than Nemtsov or Navalny or Chirikova or Yavlinsky who is the real leader of the Russian liberal opposition.

      • Oppositionist mathematicians came up with the needed 34,000 number by calculating the circumference of the Sadovoe Ring, then dividing by the mass of an average podpindosnik.

        • But then that 34,000 would be a minimum. After all you can fit more people into the same ring if they hold hands but do not stretch their arms out as opposed to having people holding hands and stretching them out.

          And why choose the inner ring? Surely the outer rings could accommodate more people holding hands together. And why choose only one ring road? Moscow has 3 or 4 doesn’t it? An ambitious demonstration would have million-man rings with thousands of people holding hands in each of Moscow’s ring roads, not just one of the innermost (and smallest) ones. I read that the ring road they are going to demonstrate on has a circumference of 16 km. Meanwhile the Baltic Way human chain in 1989 apparently spanned over 600 km of roadway (which if I’m correct would be longer than length of all of Moscow’s ring roads combined).

    • Navalny’s “White Ring” will probably look something like this. Бараны, ебаный в рот!

  23. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Dear Anatoly,

    Since I note your interest in tracking media commentary about Russia you might if and when you have the time look up a piece written in today’s Financial Times by Philip Stephens in which he says that Russia’s veto of the Resolution on Syria was “worthy of Brezhnev”. I can’t unfortunately provide you with a link since it’s behind a pay wall.

    What I find interesting about this article is that though it purports to report on Lavrov’s comments on the veto at the Munich Security Conference it never actually quotes him. Instead it freely attributes to Lavrov and Putin a host of opinions about the Syrian crisis and the Arab Spring (basically that it is all a CIA plot) that neither they nor any other Russian diplomat or official has ever expressed.

    This habit of attributing to Russian leaders and officials motives and opinions they have never expressed has a long history. I recently read a book by Orlando Figes on the Crimean War (which by the way in spite of one or two good points I emphatically do not recommend), which shows that this practice was alive and well in the nineteenth century.

  24. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Another attack on the BBC documentary on Putin this time from the Economist.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21547228

    As you can see the problem with the documentary is that it is “too balanced”, which apparently is inappropriate for a country as “opaque” as Russia. Of course if you believe that Russia is a cross between Mordor and the Third Reich you might actually see “balance” as a problem.

  25. The Agony and the Ecstacy of Yekaterinburg intelligentsia:

    http://rbth.ru/articles/2012/02/10/a_playwright_supports_putin_14346.html

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    “Russia Beyond the Headlines” linked above by Yalensis still claims that the Bolotnaya meeting of Feb 4 had 120,000 present, though it does state that at Poklonnaya Gora on the same day 130,000 were present. The article where these figures are presented has the statement: The data based on the combined information from the Russian media outlets.

    See: http://rbth.ru/articles/2012/02/04/protestors_not_afraid_of_the_cold_14316.html

    And at last I have found evidence to support Chirikova’s claim at Bolotnaya Square on February 4 that other anti-Putin rallies were taking place outside of Russia:

    http://rbth.ru/articles/2012/02/06/protests_for_fair_elections_in_russia_united_russian-speaking_new_yo_14322.html

    It’s those Facebook people at large again, admirably guided, it seems, by, amongst others, St. Mikhail of the Gulag’s son Pavel.

    • Khodorkovsky’s son, Gaidar’s daughter, a handful of ex-dissident rabble from Soviet times – sounds like a case of “the usual suspects”, no doubt they will be applying for a grant from the NED.

  27. I like the add for the “anti-Orange” meeting you linked to. It explicitly says “I can be for Putin, or against”, this helps to understand things better.

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      Dear Hoct,

      I can only partly agree with this. The simple fact is that the anti Orange candidate at the end of the day IS Putin. I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the people who demonstrated at the rally intend to vote for him.

      • They would vote for him, but they would not demonstrate for him. At least that is what the organizers thought if the add is any guide.

        • Alexander Mercouris says:

          Dear Hoct,

          I think you may be in danger of reading too much into the title of the rally. Bear in mind what I said, that it is a contradiction in terms to protest for something. The organisers of the rally chose its title simply to show that it was more than just a rally for Putin in exactly the same way than the organisers of the opposition protests claim that their rallies are for fair elections, rather than being anti Putin as such.

          • Oh, there may have been a misunderstanding. I did not conclude this from the name of rally, but rather from the content of the commercial Anatoly linked to. Sorry for not making it more clear and avoiding confusion.

            I don’t know actually Russian, but as a Slav speaker I was able to understand this one. It conveys roughly the message that people who are for Putin are welcome as well as those against as this doesn’t really matter as long as you are for Russia (for Russia that thinks with its own head rather than carries out dictates of the West and against the permanent malcontents who want the opposite). The message was that this was bigger than just Putin or any one political background.

            I think it would be fair to say it was a rally for Putin for some participants, but not for all of them.

  28. Moscow Exile says:

    Sean Walker of Lebedev’s UK Independent at it again, digging up a story to put those poor, exiled Russian fighters for freedom and democracy in Russia and now resident in Moskva-na-Temse in a favourable light:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-russian-satirical-poet-his-billionaire-backer-and-a-tour-that-putin-wont-find-funny-6804833.html

    I shouldn’t think Vladimir Putin gives a flying fuck about Chichvarkin’s antics and those of his fellow “exiles” in london. During her next outing in Moscow, Chirikova, of course, could make reference to this “satirical show” as proof of international support against the tyrant and his regime.

  29. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Here is an interesting Levada opinion poll appearing in Novaya Gazeta no less. It appears to confirm that a backlash is now building up with Russians saying they will not join the protests jumping from 53% to 75%.

    http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=3&id=309055

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      Apologies, that should have said 65% to 75%, still a significant jump. I have an eyesight problem, which makes it difficult for me to read numbers.

  30. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Here is an article from the website of Voice of Russia, which of all Russian news sources available to me in English has been consistently the most interesting and the most informative in reporting the protests

    http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/02/15/66135150.html

    The article says that the effect of the protests has been to make Putin raise his game and to carry out improvements to the election process. I agree on both counts. What the article doesn’t say but which I also think quite likely is that the protests might actually increase the size of Putin’s majority by scaring many voters who might otherwise have abstained or even voted for other candidates (especially Zyuganov) into voting for him.

    • I hope so. Russians need to stop acting like bumps on a log when it comes to politics. The whole liberast racket is predicated on seizing the initiative from the silent majority. Maybe in 1917 Russians had no chance to express their voice but now they do and should make use of the ballot box accordingly. If they are not happy with UR then vote Just Russia or even the KPRF to send a signal. It does not matter if Mironov is alleged to be a Putin puppet (typical liberast lie, BTW). The mere act of giving him many votes sends a signal. It’s not like there is only one name on the ballot.

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        Dear Kirill,

        I agree with this and also with your other comment.

        The only thing that gave the protest movement oxygen was that the parliamentary opposition parties first and foremost the KPRF repeated after the parliamentary elections their stale mantra (which they make after every election) that the parliamentary elections had been rigged. This gave the impression that the opposition had somehow come together with the liberals in a consensus that the elections had been rigged, which combined with the totally understandable fall in United Russia’s support made it appear for a while as if the entire government was hanging by a thread.

        This was wrong on every count. The opposition has not in fact come together. On the contrary as an examination of their election platforms shows the parliamentary opposition parties are far closer ideologically to Putin than they are to the liberals. As has been discussed at length on this blog, the parliamentary elections were almost certainly not systematically rigged. Nor has the government at any time been under any serious threat.

        The KPRF in particular needs to draw a lesson from this affair. By joining the liberals in claiming that the parliamentary elections were rigged it drew attention away from the good result it achieved in those elections. Not only did it piss on its own parade but it also thereby ensured that Zyuganov’s presidential election bid would become hostage to a protest movement ultimately controlled by the KPRF’s liberal opponents, who capitalising on the presence of Communists, nationalists and leftists at their rallies have been able to claim a degree of popular support, which they simply do not have. Meanwhile Zyuganov has been left whining from the sidelines that despite promises from the liberals the representatives he sent to the Prospekt Sakharova rally on 24th December 2011 were not allowed to speak. What did he expect?

        • If you put a dog in a moving car, he always sticks his head out the window. Always. He cannot help himself. Similarly, with Communist Party. Stalinists never can resist joining a Popular Front with their class enemies. They always get burned. But they always do it again next time around. Why? I don’t know. I guess it is just a biological urge.

  31. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Does anyone know the turnout for the pro Putin rally today in St. Petersburg? United Russia fell back in St. Petersburg in the parliamentary elections but the opposition rallies there do not seem to have caught fire.

    • My explanation for that is that St.-Petersburg’s vote was basically honest, so they don’t feel as much need to protest for fair elections, whereas Moscow’s was massively fraudulent. Of course I’m aware that we’ll differ on this point. :)

      Haven’t been tracking St.-Petersburg. The most interesting thing to watch out for now will be attendance at the pro-Putin rally in Moscow on Feb 26. Any bets on whether any Western media outlet will care to mention it?

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        Yes, let’s differ on that point. Diversity after all is the spice of life!

        As to whether the western media will cover the pro Putin rally, the short answer is of course not or at least not to any great degree especially if it is a success.

  32. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Itar Tass and Voice of Russia are giving the number of the pro Putin rally in St. Petersburg as 60,000 but unfortunately they do not give the source for this figure. If it comes from the organisers then it may not be reliable. Novosti consistent with its stance as the most liberal of Russia’s English language news agencies has so far ignored the rally as (of course) have the western or at least British media. Apparently there have been pro Putin rallies in many other places.

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