[Marxism] Voices from Russia's progressive opposition

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Thu May 3 17:55:51 MDT 2012

Albrecht Berg, Moscow

It's been a lively couple of months for Russia's opposition. After last
December's parliamentary elections, the country was hit by the largest
demonstrations since the 1990s.

Defying freezing temperatures, tens of thousands gathered in Moscow alone
to protest against election irregularities and the victorious United Russia
party of Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev.

The huge rise in turnout, compared with any demonstration in recent memory,
surprised everyone, especially the opposition.

As the focus shifted to the presidential elections on March 4, in which
Putin was elected for his third term as president with a dubiously clear
margin, several more large demonstrations were organised by a newly
confident opposition.

For Putin's inauguration in early May, there are plans for a “March of

But discontent has not just surfaced in mass protests. Civil society
organisations are gaining strength campaigning against state repression and
for accountability.

In the provincial city of Astrakhan, popular leftist politician and former
MP Oleg Shein, who staged a 40-day hunger strike after losing the allegedly
rigged mayoral election to a pro-Putin candidate.

Many are now asking, with the surge of dissent against the Putin regime, is
there reason to hope that political repression and the power of the
oligarchs are waning, and that Russia may soon be heading down a more
progressive path? Is there a Russian Spring in the making?

I met four young activists, with different approaches to politics, to hear
their take.
“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is humanity’s
original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made,
through disobedience and through rebellion.” — Oscar Wilde, Soul of Man
Under Socialism

“The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?” — Jarvis Cocker

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