The “Last Hurrah” Of The Liberal Bloggers And Hipsters

For all the hype the “March of Millions” was missing a couple of zeros.

(In the video above, the left pane shows the march along the Yakimanka on February 4th, where there were about 56,000-80,000 protesters; the right pane shows the “march of millions”, in reality about 20,000-30,000, along the same street on May 6th).

They tried to compensate with paving stones and Molotov cocktails. In doing so, they lost what dwindling stock of sympathy they still had.

On the plus side, Navalny gets a bunch of homoerotic photos of himself getting arrested to decorate his Facebook with.


  1. I agree with every point you make Anatoly though I doubt there were as many as 30,000.

  2. Just to say that it looks to me very strongly as if the violence was pre planned. It’s been pretty obvious that Navalny, Ponomariev and Udaltsov have been spoiling for a fight ever since the 5th March 2012 rally. Pretty much everybody seems to be saying that it was the protesters who began the violence and significantly even people like Mitrokhin, Lukin the Human Rights Ombudsman and the Chairman of Medvedev’s Human Rights Council are saying this. Voice of Russia says that Mitrokhin is even condemning Navalny and Udaltsov for what took place.

    I strongly suspect that this is the moment when the liberal opposition finally splits into its “system” (Prokhorov, Yavlinsky, Mitrokhin) and “non system” (Navalny, Udaltsov, Nemtsov) wings. Of course by any normal definition there is nothing “liberal” about Navalny or Udaltsov at all. Udaltsov especially comes across to me as a political hooligan.

  3. Anatoly,

    I thought it would interest you that financial newsletter author James Willie agrees with your article’s “Return of the Reich” thesis, sees a new monetary Rapallo between Germany, Russia and China as in the cards after the French get blamed for killing off the euro, even though it’s already dying:

  4. yalensis says:

    Paging down the photos, for a second I thought Navalny was the fat guy with the plumber ass, then I see further down, Navalny actually looking pretty good, lean and rugged “rebel without a clue” tough-guy look. Looks like one of those Jimmy Cagney types – “You’ll never take me alive, ya lousy coppers — aaaahhh!”
    I would go so far as to say Navalny looks like he has working out in gym, although can never be equal to sheer buffiness of Boris Nemtsov (in whom I am disappointed, he allowed himself to be arrested fully clothed)… Come on, Bor, get with the program, you owe it to your fans to show off your 6-pack abs…

  5. Here is a piece on Novosti by Konstantin “von” Eggert, who says that notwithstanding the decline of the protest movement Putin has “failed to understand” that he and his regime face a legitimacy crisis.

    What legitimacy crisis? Putin has just won a Presidential election in which even his most extreme opponents admit he won more than 50% of the vote in the first round (in reality he did substantially better than that). I understand that even the international observer teams are now admitting that Putin won the election and that his win was legitimate.

    It seems to me that the major effect of the winter protests has been to loosen even further people like “von” Eggert’s already shaky grasp of reality.

    By the way it is also untrue that Putin has no vision for Russia. It’s just that it is not the vision “von” Eggert and his chums have.

  6. Here is Yavlinsky’s take on the protests on Sunday and over the last few days. I completely agree with the criticisms of the recent protests he makes. Note that he too appears to blame Sunday’s trouble on some at least of the protesters.

    Though I do not agree with his politics overall and though I gather Yavlinsky is a difficult person to work with nonetheless I have always had more time for him than for any of the other liberals and this is far from being the first time I find myself agreeing with him. He is after all a real politician heading a real political party even if only a very small one.

    • It should not be considered radical to have parties that play by the rules to exist and participate in the political process. It’s all the militants and their attempts to seize power by force that should not be tolerated. Trying to stir up the mob and overturn the elected government in the streets is not legitimate. It is criminal and should be treated as such.

      • Dear Kirill,

        Remember, one should approach politics with the mind of a politician not a policeman. Sling Nemtsov & Co in prison and they will call themselves martyrs. Leave them to muck about on the streets and they become fools.

        • By the way, whatever became of Prokhorov? Remember him?

          • He also seems to be distancing himself from the protests


            • Dear Patrick,

              Thanks. I think that clarifies the position fully. The protest movement has split. On the one hand we have people like Yavlinsky, Mitrokhin, Mironov and now Prokhorov who are into the serious business of politics, run real parties, contest actual elections and actually win votes whilst against them we have a small, tiny, pseudo revolutionary rump made up of people like Udaltsov, Navalny, Yashin, Ponomariev and Nemtsov who are properly speaking political adventurers rather than politicians but who do seem to have a following within the capital’s student community and part of its youth. The very young age of most of the protesters on Sunday was especially striking.

              It seems that the protest movement has been abandoned by the first group and has been completely taken over by the second group. I notice that none of the first group were present at the protest on Sunday. The prominence in the protest movement of Udaltsov (whose extraordinary utopian ultra Leftist programme is discussed in I think Moskovsky Komsomolets) and who seems to be emerging as its effective leader, confirms its capture by the second group and its complete marginalisation. This may be the reason why the western or at any rate British press appears to have finally lost interest in it.

              Needless to say a protest movement led by Udaltsov can only repel the middle class, who the protest movement was supposed to be representing. For the moment a few celebrities like Ksenia Sobchak and Boris Akunin are still sticking with it but for how long one wonders. Ksenia Sobchak is starting to remind me of our very own British Trotskyist revolutionary celebrity, the actress Vanessa Redgrave. I am beginning to acquire a grudging respect for the strength of her commitment though I suspect I am alone in doing so.

  7. James Cagney reference…that’s awesome. Truly Dennis Miller-esque.

    Anatoly hope you make the rounds on ‘nutjob’ survivalist radio…cuz if there’s anything certain Twitter pack hounds hate, it’s a damn dirty gold or silver bug. They mine that stuff in Russia and China Commie territory after all (though Gerald Celente told the New Yorker he loves his SKS).

    Maybe you should tell the host of Tru News its ‘Kavkaz’ or ‘Caucuses’ not the ‘Cah-cah-cez’. But at least the Christian end timers take Russia seriously.

  8. The latest developments seem to be the establishment of some sort of camp at Chistye Prudy and a “walk with writers” that took place today but which seems to have attracted no more than a few thousand people.

    Again it has been pretty obvious that there have plans to set up an outdoor camp since at least the protest on 5th March 2012. The authorities have prevented any attempt to do so in the centre of Moscow near the Kremlin so the protesters have been forced to settle on Chistye Prudy. I suspect the original plan was to re stage a kind of Maidan. However the camp seems never to have attracted more than a few hundred people at any one time. Since it cannot be a Maidan attempts are being made instead to piggy back opportunistically on the Occupy movement in the west, though it needs to be said clearly that the protest movement in Moscow has absolutely nothing in common with the Occupy movement, which is an attempt to focus anger on the financial community that is held responsible for the economic crisis. Moreover whilst claiming a connection to Occupy movement may be effective in winning over some western support, it will further alienate the Russian business community and the middle class, which the protest movement claims to represent.

    Overall my impression is of a protest movement that is incapable of thinking beyond the next protest. Anybody with knowledge of far left groups in Europe will be familiar with this pattern.

    This movement is going nowhere.

    • Moreover whilst claiming a connection to Occupy movement may be effective in winning over some western support…

      OCW is strongly against Western elites, while the Russian “Occupiers”, that is the liberal “kreativniki”, intelligentsia, etc. are slavishly supportive of them. I do not think trying to adopt the Occupy brand will work out well for them. They’ll get more support from ill-informed idealistic Westerners, but risk losing support from the Westerners who matter, i.e. the elites.

  9. They don’t have a function other than to disrupt. These are not people with legitimate concerns and who have serious solutions in mind. These are nothing but malcontents who whore for foreign interests.

    Why are they not trying to create a solid opposition party close to the center that will have popular appeal? They claim to emulate the west but are doing nothing of the sort since they are not centrists but some sort of bizarre neo-liberal radicals. By definition neo-liberals can not have popular support in Russia since they do not represent any Russian values that I am aware of. They do represent the interests of oligarchs and banana republic compradors. Neo-liberalism is not even something that is openly supported in most of the west. Aside from the US republican party and the recently made-over Canadian conservative party (that is nothing like the original conservative party) the western mainstream does not adhere to neo-liberalism. (This is aside from any two-faced behaviour of parties once they get into power and pander to the elites instead of to the people that voted for them; to get elected they cannot brazenly advocate neo-liberalism).

    • Dear Kirill,

      In a sense Yavlinsky, Prokhorov & co are making the same criticism as you. You are also right in your political valuation of their movement though in fairness they would surely not call themselves “centrists”. What they are or what they pretend to be is revolutionaries since what they are seeking is the overthrow of the existing government by revolutionary means ie. not through conventional political methods such as elections, which of course they know they could never win, but through extra constitutional methods such as protests. However they are not genuine revolutionaries since they have no revolutionary programme or organisation or policies and, as at some level they must also know, the country is in no mood for revolution and does not want one (why should it?).

      The result is that we have a drift towards a succession of protests that are becoming increasingly aimless. That is what I meant when I said that this is a movement that is going nowhere and which is unable to see or plan beyond the next protest.

      • My point is that the liberasts are pushing an ideology that is not going to find popular appeal amongst Russian and western masses. Whatever they like to think of themselves they are nothing more than a lunatic fringe trying to seize power by force. Force of the mob which they are trying to instigate into action. Here is where their lack of a popular platform cuts them off at the knees. If they pretended to appeal to the center (the majority) then they would have had more chance. But Putin already has that part of the spectrum in the bag and so their “opposition” is really to the majority and they cannot be centrists.

        These clowns really should move to some island and set up a Randist utopia.

        • yalensis says:

          “These clowns really should move to some island and set up a Randist utopia.”
          That’s the best idea I’ve heard yet! Give them their own island. Yes. Call it “Randopia”. Their flag is the OTPOR symbol of raised fist being punched through somebody else’s anus.
          Randite “geniuses” would starve within a week, because nobody there to feed them, or keep the island running for them. We film the whole debacle and stream it as “Reality TV”. Final episode: when these useless parasites are forced into cannibalism because nobody there to take care of their needs, and they are starving, so they end up clubbing and eating each other on live TV..

  10. Here is an article in the Guardian by someone who I presume is a Russian supporter of the protest movement who nonetheless points out the futility and absurdity of the opposition camp at Chistye Prudy and its total disconnection from the Occupy movement in the US it claims to be connected to. The article also comes close to admitting the futility of the entire protest movement since it was launched last December.

    Though I agree with the writer of the article about the futility of the protests, the article like so much of what passes in Russia for “liberal journalism” contains its share of non sequiturs and outright falsehoods. Thus it professes bafflement at how in a Russia it chooses to call a virtual dictatorship protests of the sort we have seen have been able to take place. The possibility that the protests have been able to take place because Russia is not a virtual dictatorship is one the writer of the article does not acknowledge. The writer also says that the government has refused to talk to the protest leaders. In fact there have been several meetings between the government (including Medvedev) and the protest leaders, which however have gone nowhere because the protest leaders have not been prepared to compromise on any of their demands. The writer also says that the government has failed to concede any of the demands of the protesters including the one for the reinstatement of direct gubernational elections when of course the government has reinstated them.

  11. Haven’t seen this picked up by Mark, Leoš or yourself AK, but it seems the Ukrainian parliament has gotten into the spirit of things by trying to compete with Russia’s liberal protesters:

    As I expected, Yanukovych and his party seem to be attempting to woo back their base ahead of upcoming elections by introducing this bill. They also seem to be appealing to the Romanian and Crimean Tatar minorities with the bill which would allow for the use of languages other than Ukrainian at state facilities where another language is spoken by the majority in the area.

  12. AK, this might have been the last hurrah of the liberal bloggers and hipsters, but this seems to be the first hurrah for the opposition in Georgia:

    Any decent estimates on the crowd size from the pictures? The opposition claims 300,000 but I’m always wary of the figures claimed by the organizers of rallies. Maybe Nikolai Pomeshchenko will be able to work out how close this figure is to what we see in the photos?

    • Dear Hunter,

      I have to say that it doesn’t look like 300,000 to me. Having said this there are certainly tens of thousands of people there. Given that Georgia has a population of no more than 4 million and given the way Saakashvili handles protests it does look like a big turnout, proportionately much bigger (in fact several orders of magnitude bigger) than the turnout for even the biggest protests in Russia during the winter.

      One should be cautious though: one big demonstration does not mean Saakashvili is on his way out. He doesn’t strike me as the sort of man who is going to give up easily. He still has his supporters and If he really does face a serious challenge then I expect things to start turning nasty as they did at the end of 2007.

    • I’d say about 20,000 or 30,000 at most (but only going from the picture). Though we might dislike him it has to be acknowledged that according to opinion polls Saakashvili remains very popular in Georgia. However – much like Putin / Prokhorov, ironically – Saakashvili’s support is lowest in the capital, Tbilisi, where the oligarch Ivanishvili is much more popular.

      • Well I certainly didn’t want to trust the 300,000 figure. Too often the figures presented by organizers are wildly inflated. And it is easy to see how that can happen sometimes. If the organize it online they can easily get a lot of people “committing” to the event (something which I think happened a lot with the Russian opposition protests) but a large number of them don’t bother to show up. Throw in those who will sign up multiple times, under multiple names (as has apparently been happening with the Scottish National Party’s online “Yes Declaration” which doesn’t seem to prevent the same IP address signing up an unlimited number of times), then a crowd of 20,000 could easily have had 50,000 or even 100,000 “persons” signed up for it.