Russia after ‘Bolotnaya’ _ Back to democracy?
22 December, 2011

The final results of elections to the Russian State Duma were announced on the 9th of December, but only the next day we knew what was the actual, the principal and incontestable result of the 4th December voting... This is not, obviously, the fake victory of Putin's and Medvedev's United Russia Party. And even not the decrease of this party's support, which even enormous falsifications could not conceal (the party lost almost 15% of votes, in comparison with 2007 the State

Duma elections). This is actually the new feeling born. Those Russian citizens, who want to make difference and influence the politics, understood – they are no longer alone. After ten years of the Russian political solitude, different times have come. The newly-born phenomenon could be called the birth of a civil society in Russia, the fatigue from Putin's regime, the Facebook phenomenon in politics - all of this is correct. As to me, I would prefer just to call it the end of political solitude.

December 10 manifestations of Russian citizens all over the world and of course the major meeting in Bolotnaya square in Moscow showed that the Russian society exists. Not just separate individuals, but society – tens of thousands of people who care. More than ever before the Russian people deserve this appellation – ‘society’. As a society the Russian people can defend their rights, make collective decisions, and most importantly, they have their self-esteem, the basic feeling of any fulltime citizen of value.

How did it happen that the silent society finally stepped out of the shade? I can mention several factors which are very likely to influence the situation. The first is the Internet and especially social networks’ factor. For now this is the dominating instrument of political organization and of course a very influential media. The next is a critical mass accumulation. For too long a period of time the Russian society accepted that somebody decided for them. It just wanted to say ‘stop’, enough is enough! And finally, I would entitle the appearance of Perestroika Generation (new generation P, is in fact very different from Victor Pelevin's Generation P). The Perestroika children grew up in the atmosphere of democratic ideals and open political discussions of the 90’s of the last century. They never read the Pravda newspaper, Cold War is just a history for them, and A. Solzhenitsyn is a paradigmatic author from their school text-book. Their arrival is something new, isn’t it? And in the Bolotnaya there were thousands and thousands of that 20-25 year-olds who have lived their entire life under the democratic Constitution and who are absolutely naturally attached to the idea of freedom and free choice. I saw these young people on the Moscow meeting videos and I meet them in person in Lyon, France, where the mini-manifestation counter-action against unfair elections in Russia was also organized by the Russian citizens, living in France. Peaceful, energetic and absolutely pragmatic, they came with only one claim: Give us back fair elections. And that is what they really want. They want political institutions, gained in the 90’s to work properly. Fair elections, return of regional heads of elections and the same fair rules for all political parties – that's all what they are asking for. And that's very reasonable and not just romantic on their part, or overly demanding. Putin and his team cannot run the distance absolutely alone any more. Russia needs political competition and that's the question of first priority on the Russian political agenda.

In the last few days I have been listening to a lot of people to speak about these changes and making forecasts for the nearest future. I read personal blogs and monitored social networks. And I noticed that almost nobody speaks about Bolotnaya in a skeptical way. Almost everybody feels that it is a beginning of big and positive changes on the Russian political scene. I do not remember such a consensus on a political issue in Russia since the boisterous early 90’s. And that means that from the 10th of December we have a new majority political party and this is not definitely Putin's ‘United Russia’ - this is a Russian society!

 

Nota bene:

The previous article of this author (‘Anything for citizenship – even sex!’) reflects the climate in the Russian society after the announcement of Putin’s comeback as president of Russia. The «Bolotnaya» meeting has changed the mood of many people, who now believe in a possibility of positive changes in political system of Russia.

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