Russians have taken their anger with the political corruption and unjust elections to the streets of Moscow, this time amassing nearly 50,000 people. The core of these protesters’ anger stems from the exclusion of independent, opposition-minded candidates from taking part in a September election for Moscow’s city legislature. Authorities deny these claims, saying that the opposition candidates simply did not get enough signatures to register. The excluded candidates say this is a blatant lie. President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials are yet to make proactive comments or solutions to the political unrest, as protests continue for the fourth consecutive weekend.
Support for Putin and the current Russian government is the lowest it has been since 2013. Citizen morale has worsened due to falling living standards, a greatly outdated political system, and a lack of productive economic reform. As their economy remains stagnant, some may argue that it is leaning towards regression, and many are looking for change within politics. Russia’s younger generation have taken impressive initiative in these protests, as their worry for more years of a corrupt government are made clear. The opposition party candidates all represent a youthful Russia that is tired of useless political policies and the same candidates continuously elected.
The Moscow-based think-tank focusing on equality within politics, Centre of Actual Politics (CAP), has reported on these protests since the beginning. Victor Olevich of the CAP has stated that the police crackdowns on protests have proven to be counterproductive as the number of attendees has greatly increased. Thousands have faced detainment, extreme criminal charges, and years in prison for what have been peaceful protests. Amnesty International commented on the current state of the Russian protests saying: “The Russian authorities have shown nothing but disdain for human rights and the notion of peaceful protest….We call on the Russian authorities to respect the country’s human rights obligations and Constitution, and ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is respected and facilitated… The unfounded ‘mass disorder’ charges against demonstrators must be dropped, and all imprisoned peaceful protestors released.”
Authorities are taking a tactical and tough approach in addressing these protests. They started by detaining almost all the opposition candidates who were running, with the intentions of diminishing their political presence during the protests. Prosecuting Russia’s ‘Navalny’s Foundation’, which publishes and conducts investigations regarding government corruption, worked to eliminate information supporting the opposition. Authorities also censored those working for the foundation.
It is my hope that moving forward, Russians continue to carry on with their protests that challenge authorities and politicians to make drastic change. As the rest of the world hopes for a democratic transition to begin in Russia, it seems many Russians have begun to share that sentiment. Searching for a system that protects and respects their interests remains at the forefront of their political agenda. Some experts believe that the current weakness of the Russian government could pave the way for democracy to grow in Russia.
Experts have remained hopeful about the power of these protests despite the unwarranted arrests. Russian authorities are losing their power as these protests continue to grow in strength and in numbers. The protestors’ perseverance shows there are no plans of throwing in the towel anytime soon. Though Russian politics have been traditionally unwavering, these protests could drastically change the fundamentals and policies of Russia’s current political landscape.
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