Posted 5 years ago on Dec. 24, 2011, 12:20 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
|© Антон Тушин/Ridus.ru|
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Russians marched in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities decrying the recent parliamentary election results. In the largest series of protests since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago people have united across political affiliations shouting, “We exist! We exist!”
The protests began December 4th - shortly after election results were released showing in some instances returns that totaled as high as 146% of the popular vote. Russians took to the streets, chanting, “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin.” By the following Saturday, people turned out en masse (estimates range from 25,000-100,000) for a protest in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square. It was accompanied by dozens of smaller rallies across Russia’s nine time zones.
During the election, ballot boxes were stuffed; monitors shooed away; voter registrations bought, sold, and forged; and teams of United Russia activists bussed from precinct to precinct to vote early and often, in a process called "The Carousel."
The elections were not a surprise. Last September the current President Dmitry Medvedev announced Vladimir Putin would run again for the presidency, a post that he held from 2000 to 2008 and an impossibility until a recent amendment to the Russian Constitution.
This revealed a level of cronyism, long suspected - Medvedev has been cast as “Robin to Putin’s Batman”. Some Russians now snidely refer to this political maneuvering as “rokirovka” - the Russian word for castling in chess, the move in which a rook and the king are moved at the same time, to shelter the king. This “castling move” will allow Mr. Medvedev to assume Mr. Putin’s job as prime minister after the elections March 4th - an agreement according to Putin that was reached “a long time ago, several years back.”
This announcement was understandably met with public outrage and frustration. Putin’s approval ratings went down. Vladimir Aristarkhov, a local publishing house employee, explained, “Our local version of Dr. Evil and his Mini-Me will stay in power as long as they can.” At the time there were a few small protests but nothing compared with the magnitude of crowds post-election, inspired by people-powered movements across the globe.