Russia’s unrest simmers, but life as usual in MoscowDecember 19th, 2011 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, Dec 19 (IANS) The streets of Moscow and its broad thoroughfares, at first glance, do not reflect the mood of the nation. As Russians go about their work, it appears that the political unrest brewing over the Dec 4 Duma polls that came to the fore with a massive 50,000-strong rally here on Dec 10 was just a passing cloud.
But those with their ear to the ground in the Russian capital and foreign observers are sure it is only a lull before the storm - as on Dec 24, another massive protest on the lines of the Dec 10 Bolotnaya Ploshchad square rally is expected when protesters will brave the freezing weather to bring pressure on the Kremlin.
According to observers, Russia has not witnessed such massive political backlash in over two decades when it has remained a non-Communist country following the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1980s, before which it enjoyed a super power status.
“After the Dec 10 massive rally, which attracted over 50,000 men and women, who voiced their opposition to the Dec 4 poll results and their anger at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s bid at the presidency, Moscow’s streets have been peaceful. There is nothing much that can be seen over ground in terms of political unrest,” an Indian journalist based in Moscow told this IANS correspondent who was part of the media delegation accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his Moscow visit.
Despite the outward calm, the political movement against Putin and anger over alleged electoral fraud, ballot stuffing and intimidation during the Duma polls that left the ruling United Russia Party with a reduced majority in parliament is simmering underground. And it is driven mainly by the strength of the middle class support and the political opposition, the journalist, who did not want to be named, said.
Foreign observers, including those from the diplomatic corps, endorse this perception.
“It only seems like something massive will erupt. What will be the trigger point….any wrong move by the government on the political or election front,” a foreign diplomat in Moscow told IANS, but did not want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
With the Christmas fever setting in, the festive mood in Russia, where the Orthodox Church is the dominant religious group, is palpable, and Moscow’s buildings and market places are decorated with buntings, colourful lights and Christian symbols.
As if nothing was going on in the political arena, Russian youngsters have already got into the Christmas and New Year mood and were seen frolicking at night clubs. At restaurants and shopping malls, Christmas and New Year parties were in progress.
Queries with Russian commoners on the unrest within their country only drew a blank stare, as none were willing to discuss it openly, and that too with a journalist from abroad.
But amidst all these, the opposition Communist Party brought out over 3,000 of its supporters for a rally in Moscow’s capital on Dec 18, a day after Manmohan Singh left home from Moscow after a successful bilateral meeting with Medvedev and Putin.
Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who briefed Indian journalists on the bilateral meetings here on Friday, said Singh “congratulated and felicitated” both Medvedev and Putin for the Duma polls and its outcome. However, the two sides did not discuss the political situation in Russia, he said.
“President Medvedev did not refer, as far as I know, to the internal situation in Russia. This was not a part of the discussion to my knowledge,” he added.
But the political headache for Putin is not yet over, as Moscow braces itself up for another Bolotnaya Ploshchad Square rally on Dec 24 on Christmas eve. Putin has a major electoral battle ahead of him in March next year, when Russia elects a new president.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his official delegation were in Moscow for a summit meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev from Dec 15 to 17.
(N C Bipindra can be contacted at email@example.com)
- PM felicitates Russian president on recent Duma polls - Dec 16, 2011
- PM congratulates Medvedev, Putin on Duma polls (Lead) - Dec 17, 2011
- Manmohan Singh, Medvedev hold their last summit (Postcard from Moscow) - Dec 18, 2011
- Anti-Putin protests sweep across Russia - Dec 10, 2011
- Russians rally as Medvedev offers reforms - Feb 04, 2012
- Kremlin supporters announce counter-rally - Dec 10, 2011
- No US involvement in Russian protests: Envoy (Lead) - Jan 26, 2012
- Russian opposition activist seek asylum in Ukraine - Aug 14, 2012
- Moscow authorises opposition rally - Jan 26, 2012
- Anti-Putin protest thwarted by police - Feb 01, 2012
- Putin votes in parliament polls - Dec 04, 2011
- PM leaves for home after whirlwind Russia visit - Dec 17, 2011
- Russia votes for parliament, a test of Putin's leadership - Dec 04, 2011
- PM to hold talks with Medvedev, Putin - Dec 16, 2011
- Don't meddle in domestic affairs: Medvedev to foreign powers - Dec 07, 2011
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