Though the protests are unlikely to threaten Putin’s power, they’ve revealed cracks in the status quo.
Lines of riot police officers were shoving protesters down Tverskaya street and arresting people on Pushkin Square. Yet the crowd, largely teens and 20-somethings, kept surging forward toward the action, chanting, “Putin is a thief!” and “Russia will be free!” Thousands had come out on Monday for an anti-corruption protest called by Alexei Navalny, who wants to challenge Vladimir Putin for the presidency next year. Cheers went up as young men scrambled up onto balconies and roofs to wave Russian flags.
The contrast between them and the crowd at the other end of Tverskaya, where a historical reenactment festival was being held, could hardly have been greater. Middle-aged couples and families with children watched men in helmets and chain mail swing swords at each other. Potbellied men dressed as secret police pretended to detain bandits from a famous Soviet film, oblivious to the very real arrests being done by real police a block away. They quickly departed when police swept the street, unlike the many boisterous young people willing to risk arrest.
The protest showed that the anti-corruption march that Navalny had called on March 26, when more than 1,000 people were detained, including me and other journalists, was not a one-off. He has solidified his image as the opposition’s main leader and Putin’s main nemesis. And his growing support comes from Russia’s youth.https://www.thenation.com/article/russias-massive-protests-reveal-a-government-playing-by-outdated-rules/