Occupy Abay

Olga Kravets

Published on 22/08/12

© Olga Kravets

It was a very strange day in Moscow, May 6 2012. I came to pho­to­graph the oppos­i­tion “rally of mil­lions” in down­town Moscow. It was hap­pen­ing just a day before Putin’s come back to power and nobody really expec­ted any police viol­ence. Still many people were arres­ted and after­wards one would think,- this is it, Rus­sian spring is over. But not every­body went home next day. People were won­der­ing try­ing to find a place where to set up a camp. By the middle of the night they got it, it was next to a monu­ment of some­body I’ve never heard of before– Kazakh poet Abay Kun­nan­baev.
So, nat­ur­ally, the impro­vised camp called itself “Occupy Abay”.
There were no tents, because it is not allowed by Moscow author­it­ies. People would bring yoga mats to sit on. There was no kit­chen, so people would eat cakes and saus­ages..
It las­ted for ten days. People would be hav­ing lec­tures, per­form­ances; they would meet each other and fall in love and just few die-hard protest­ors would stay overnight.
There was def­in­itely one thing miss­ing, the whole thing didn’t look like a polit­ical event, instead it looked like a sum­mer camp.
The police evicted the camp very smoothly. It happened just around the sun­rise when all the journ­al­ists were sleep­ing after 10 days of noth­ing really hap­pen­ing.
For for­eign eye the Occupy Abay might look com­pletely insig­ni­fic­ant. What are we talk­ing about, there were just few hun­dred people over there! But for a coun­try where for almost twenty years people did not express their polit­ical views at all it is a big step. Some people were actu­ally jok­ing, that those con­ceived at the Occupy Abay will make the new revolu­tion in Rus­sia. Text by Olga Kravets

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