Protests in Instagram

Max Streltsov

Published on 11/05/12

© Max Streltsov

Sunday’s demon­stra­tion, a day before the inaug­ur­a­tion, drew at least 20,000 people.
It began peace­fully with a march­ing band and Mus­cov­ites wav­ing plac­ards lam­poon­ing Mr. Putin and his gov­ern­ment. But the situ­ation became chaotic when pro­test­ers tried to break through a column of riot police officers.
The res­ult was a pro­longed con­front­a­tion. The police in full riot gear charged into the crowd, drag­ging out people they sus­pec­ted of pelt­ing them with bottles and chunks of asphalt, and beat­ing some bru­tally with night­sticks. On the other bank of the river, a large crowd cheered when pro­test­ers snatched hel­mets from officers and threw them into the water, and chanted, “Shame, shame, shame.”

Since Monday, the police have been arrest­ing any people they think even remotely resemble anti­gov­ern­ment demon­strat­ors, some­times just because they are wear­ing white rib­bons or even white T-shirts. In response, pro­test­ers in Moscow have adop­ted new tac­tics, “dilemma protests” and flash mobs, to avoid the mass arrests.

In Moscow, pro­test­ers fol­low­ing Aleksei Navalny, the anti­cor­rup­tion act­iv­ist, have sat in parks, sung in pub­lic or simply walked in groups. Typ­ic­ally, Mr. Navalny posts his loc­a­tion from an iPhone, and invari­ably hun­dreds of Mus­cov­ites show up to join him. When  Navalny clambered onto the ped­es­tal of a monu­ment in a park as a make­shift podium, the topic was not polit­ics.
He roused the crowd with this pecu­liar ral­ly­ing cry: “We are just going for a walk!”

On Wed­nes­day, a court sen­tenced Alexei Navalny and another protest leader, Sergei Udalt­sov, to 15 days in jail for dis­obey­ing a police order.

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