Moscow Protests: The Tumult on Tverskaya


As one of the world’s leading activists against the Putin regime, I had no choice but to show up on Tverskaya Street today, to fight for your freedom and mine.

As expected, turnout wasn’t particularly high. Although the area around the Pushkin Monument was crowded, it only extended to half a block in every direction. The regime loyalist I was with estimated there were about 5,000 protesters. A guy with a Ukrainian flag lapel badge whom I asked for his opinion said 10,000. Taking the average estimate from supporters and detractors was a good strategy for estimating crowd size in 2011-12, and coincidentally enough, the resulting figure of 7,500 coincided exactly with the police estimate of 7,000-8,000 protesters. This is not altogether bad, thought quite insubstantial in a city of 12 million.

To be sure, this was an unsanctioned protest, and as I pointed out earlier, a lot of the risk-averse office plankton who form the bulk of Navalny’s support don’t turn up to such protests. They don’t want to run the risk of getting arrested, not when it could impact on their employment. Still, this is about 3x fewer participants than in the last big protest of the 2012 wave, which was also unsanctioned, the farcical “March of the Millions” of May 6 to which about 25,000 turned up.

With the lack of office workers in the crowd, the demographics were heavily tilted towards young people and university students, though there were quite a few older people with that Soviet intelligentsia look.

Definitely lots of Euromaidan supporters – apart from Ukrainian flag lapel badge guy, there was another man, who had the look of a protest veteran about him, who regaled a small crowd with tales of his adventures fighting the police in Khabarovsk, in Kiev in 2014, and afterwards, in Kharkov (the local police there was hostile, and they had to wait it out long enough for them to get reinforcements from Poltava and further west; putting things together, he was one of the people who helped preempt the formation of a Kharkov People’s Republic). However, the Ukrainophilia wasn’t quite as noticeable as in Ekaterinburg, where the crowd chanted, “He who doesn’t jump is Dimon” (a riff on “he who doesn’t jump is a Moskal,” a rallying cry for the “Glory to Ukraine” crowd).

(Incidentally, this is one reason of many as to why the protests in Russia are unlikely to amount to much – the Ukrainians, at least, advanced into bullets for their own nationalism during Euromaidan; in contrast, the pro-Ukrainian Russians at these protests are “cucking” for someone else’s nationalism. Come to think of it, trolling the protesters by shouting “Glory to Russia” at the next protest might be a good idea).

There were also, as expected, plenty of journalists. Most of them were local media; I observed a couple from the opposition TV channel Dozhd, as well as a group from some state TV company. Incidentally, contrary to some reports, the protest was covered in the Russian state media, both in Russian and English. There did not seem to be many foreign journalists (perhaps its too early in the political season for that). However, one of them, The Guardian’s Alec Luhn, did manage to get himself arrested and charged with an administration violation, which he understandably complained about. On the other hand,  such “heavy-handedness is hardly exclusive to Russia (e.g. six RT journalists were charged for covering violence at Trump’s inauguration).

About 30 minutes after the announced start of the march, the police and the OMON started arresting people, darting into the crowds and hauling people off into the waiting police buses. Navalny was also arrested, not having even made it as far as the Pushkin Momument, let alone the Kremlin that was his destination.

The arrests were for the most part non-violent, though there were several hundreds of them, and one policemen was hospitalized for a traumatic head injury following a kick to the head from a protester.

While I’m myself rather indifferent to arrest – as a committed NEET, I have no need to worry about any repercussions on my employment or education prospects, and if anything it would provide me with nice new content – I certainly don’t want my first arrest in Russia to happen at a fucking Navalny demo of all places, so I began skulking away as soon as the arrests started. I spent the next couple of hours drinking at a bar with my regime loyalist friend.

Towards the evening, I returned to Pushkin Square. It was much less crowded now, though there were still throngs of people discussing the days’ events, with the police swooping down on them every so often to enquire as to whether they were protesting, and ensuing philosophical debates between them and the police about the semantics of group discussion versus group protest, and the precise point at which the former transitioned into the latter.

I descended into the Metro.











Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Dan Hayes says


    At least, judging by the mostly clear blue sky, you got your Vitamin D quotient for the day!

    BTW, what is the basis for your Putin aversion. Is it corruption, his Ukraine pusillanimity, or something other? I am asking this question since I have only recently became aware of your writings (which I find very engaging). Thank you.

  2. Diversity Heretic says

    I live in Moscow (temporarily). Yesterday, I took the Metro to visit the State Central Museum of Contemporary History, which is on Tverskaya Street. Turned out to be a bad day to try and see that museum, which appeared to be closed anyway (I couldn’t see anyone going in or out from across the street). Since I don’t know much Russian (impossibly inflected language), I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it was hard to miss the lines of police. When the police charged into the crowd to arrest someone right in front of me, I decided to take the Metro back home. Avoiding other people’s fights while a guest in a country is, I think, a good policy.

  3. April last year 400 protestors arrested at an illegal demo outside the Capitol Building, Washington.
    Barely made the US press, certainly not the front pages, let alone the European press.

    “More than 400 individuals have been arrested for unlawful demonstration activity, and are being processed using mass arrest procedures,” the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement early Monday evening. Those taken into custody will be charged with “crowding, obstructing and incommoding.”

    rallies and events have been scheduled through the weekend in an effort to “draw attention to our corrupt campaign finance system and rigged voting laws.”

  4. ussr andy says

    you look nothing like the Modiglianesque avatar of yours in the right column.

    AK: That’s from 2013.

  5. ussr andy says

    However, one of them, The Guardian’s Alec Luhn, did manage to get himself arrested and charged with an administration violation,

    “You don’t come here for the hunting, do you”

  6. When did I say I am against Putin? I am his greatest fan!

    Okay, but seriously, I’m not actually against Putin. I’d give him a solid 7/10 relative to past Russian/Soviet leaders.

  7. Dan Hayes says


    Thanks. Miscomprehension on my part. Mea culpa.

  8. Opening line of this post? I mean, yeah, it was tongue in cheek, but . . . .

  9. Verymuchalive says

    I thought the photo was decidedly unflattering compared to the picture. It made the Young Master look like some generic Mediterranean ( European Mediterranean, you understand ) Man. Like a Rimini pizza seller or a Greek deck chair attendant.
    I wouldn’t use that photographer again, Anatoly.
    Now that I think about it, Anatoly seems rather an apt name, coming from Anatolia, the Greek for Asia Minor.

  10. Out of curiosity, which historical leaders would you rate higher?

  11. I once compiled a list. Let me try to find it. Here it is:

    Ivan III – 7
    Ivan Grozny – 5
    Peter the Great – 10
    Anna Ivanovna – 4
    Peter III – 1
    Elizaveta Petrovna – 8
    Catherine the Great – 8
    Paul I – 3
    Alexander I – 6
    Nicholas I – 5
    Alexander II – 7
    Alexander III – 7
    Nicholas II – 4
    (Witte) – 7
    (Stolypin) – 9
    Lenin – 1
    (Trotsky) – 1
    (Bukharin) – 5
    Stalin – 3
    Khruschev – 4
    Brezhnev – 4
    Andropov – 7
    Chernenko – 3
    Gorbachev – 3
    Yeltsin – 1
    Putin – 8
    (Mevedev) – 6

  12. Much to complain of in this list. How can you rate Medvedev higher than Nicholas I on any scale, except one that measures familiarity with expensive mobile phones and stereo equipment?

  13. If you make a separate post of it, you might break the record for the number of comments.

    There’s a regular poll which asks American historians to rate US presidents. I wish that was done in more countries.

    I’ve seen people argue that Peter III was unfairly maligned by Catherine II, that she was the winner who wrote his history. I don’t know how true that is.

    I guess I would have given Nicholas I a higher grade. Liberals hated him, and later history proved that they were worse than the plague.

    I’d give Khruschev and Brezhnev 9s and Putin a 7. And as I’ve said here too often, I don’t think the later, kinder, gentler USSR could have been born without Stalin’s purges. Some of his period was like cancer and some like cancer surgery. It’s hard to give that an overall grade.

    I agree with the Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Lenin, Trotsky grades. Nicholas II – something like that. If anyone is given a 10, it might as well be Peter the Great.

  14. I like the Stolypin grade of 9, though maybe a 10 would be appropriate. A true man of vision, who foresaw the dangers of a future revolution, and tried to stop it by building up a Russian middle class peasantry, wanted to steer Russia’s Jews away from revolution by opening up opportunities in business for them, and knew that Russia had no business getting involved in a major war, having learned from the 1905 debacle.
    Had he been alive and in power in 1914 I’m guessing no way that Russia backs Serbia after Ferdinand’s assassination.

  15. ussr andy says

    Navalnyy looks Slavic (to mine Jooish eyes) but is a 5th Columnist.

  16. If you make a separate post of it, you might break the record for the number of comments.

    Thanks, I’ll consider that.

    Don’t know if that will be the case here, though. The Unz commentariat loves discussing Stalin and Jews more than anything else. 🙂

    There’s a regular poll which asks American historians to rate US presidents.

    Not quite a rating, but close:

    Khrushchev and Brezhnev were fortunate to find themselves in power during a period when the electro-mechanical revolution was inflating growth rates throughout the entire world. It is understandable that people would recall them fondly, but not so much a reflection of their quality as leaders. Since Brezhnev was a mumbling alcohol in his last decade of power, it is hard to reconcile that with a 9/10.

  17. Brilliant a decision as it would have been to stay out of the Austro-Serbian quarrel, it would have been a very hard one to take. Stolypin had never been known for strong opinions on foreign policy, and he would probably have gone with the flow.

  18. anonymous coward says

    Peter the Great – 10

    Absolutely haram, Peter I ranks only slightly above Lenin in insanity and cumulative leftist damage to progeny.

  19. I’ve been living in russia for about two years now and the byzantine nature of Russian politics baffles me.

    Are you NEETing it up in Russia for long, Anatoly?

    You should head up to St. Petersburg and join me for a hipster bar cultural safari. Ill show you the most fashionable haunts of the bourgeois-boheme Parnas voters that the city has to offer.

  20. Peter I ranks only slightly above Lenin in insanity and cumulative leftist

    Peter I – leftist?
    He, among other things, introduced in Russia the death penalty for homosexuality. Also Peter was the most hard Islamophob among the Russian tsars.

  21. Peter I – leftist?

    He was a Westernizer and extreme anti-traditionalist. I’m not sure that makes him a leftist though. Would Ataturk be considered a leftist?

  22. Peter I – leftist?

    He was a Westernizer and extreme anti-traditionalist

    Based on these criteria, all great rulers-modernizers must be considered leftists. Starting with Cyrus the Younger and Herod the Great

  23. Based on these criteria, all great rulers-modernizers must be considered leftists

    Maybe. If by leftist one means opposed to tradition, then modernization usually has something to do with leftism, although this need not necessarily be the case. Bismarck’s and Stolypin’s reforms seem to have been traditionalist in nature.

    As for Peter and Ataturk – come to think of it, their efforts seem to have been more about the importation of foreign values and practices. Anti-traditionalist certainly with respect to their native cultures, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly liberal.

  24. Bismarck’s and Stolypin’s reforms seem to have been traditionalist in nature.

    I don’t know enough about Stolypin but plenty of conservatives and traditionalists in his day hated Bismarck. Especially the more reactionary kind.

    Of course conservative Catholics hated him for his Kulturkampf, but even among Protestant Junkers there was plenty of opposition.

    It’s one of these weird parts of history that is almost forgotten today.

    Hans-Joachim Schoeps* wrote a great book about conservative opposition to Bismarck (Das andere Preussen – The other Prussia)

    *Schoeps , who was Jewish, also founded a society of Jews supporting Hitler in 1933 so maybe his general judgement on things can be questioned in parts,

  25. Hector_St_Clare says


    Our politics are very different so I wouldn’t expect us to agree on a ranking (I agree more with Glossy re: Khrushchev and Brezhnev), but I’m curious why you rank Andropov relatively highly?

    I’d also rank Bukharin quite a bit higher than you.

  26. I am curious what your ratings for the following are:

  27. Anonymous says

    Difficult to know what that means without a basis for comparison; so, how would you rate Gorby, Generalissimo (Stalin) and Peter the Great? and who would be 10/10?

  28. Andropov – 7

    The guy made a strategic mistake with far reaching consequences. If not for his quick demise, who knows what would have been, but he, rumor has it, was instrumental in dragging Misha the tractorist to Moscow.

  29. German_reader says

    lol, this sounds like fun 🙂 Really difficult though, imo Bush and Obama are still too recent (though personally I’d rate them very low), and we don’t know yet what legacy Merkel and Erdogan will leave behind (probably pretty bad in both cases). But how do you rate someone like Hitler, Khomeini or Mao who undoubtedly had a lot of political talent, but who used it for aims most of today’s Westerners would regard as evil (or can’t even really comprehend like with Khomeini) and who caused significant damage even to their own countries?
    Churchill, I think it’s safe to say, was important in 1940/1941, but in pretty much everything else he was a failure. FDR by contrast was highly successful in making the US a preeminent power at much less cost than all the other WW2 combatants so he must rank pretty highly imo.

  30. lol, this sounds like fun 🙂 Really difficult though

    How about a graph showing the number of times each name has been used in the comment sections at Unz? I think that would satisfy us.

  31. Churchill, I think it’s safe to say, was important in 1940/1941, but in pretty much everything else he was a failure.

    Very true, and by 1945 he was a very frustrated and a very jealous statesman. He certainly was primed to deliver a Fulton Speech and then leave us with rather militarily and historically mediocre and self-serving memoirs, his literature Nobel Prize notwithstanding. But then again, the “value” of this prize is as questionable as that which is awarded in economics.

  32. German_reader says

    “his literature Nobel Prize notwithstanding.”

    iirc he made extensive use of ghost writers, so that prize seems pretty dubious anyway.
    Still, for all his very real flaws (and there were many), it’s a bit sad how Churchill will probably be remembered as just another dead white racist (that trend was already noticeable back at the turn of the millennium when TIME which had named him “man of the half-century” in 1950 declared he was no longer fit to be regarded as a hero because of his racism and support for colonialism).

  33. Jaakko Raipala says

    If Germany had won the war that prize would have probably been given to Hitler and the Swedish academy would have praised Mein Kampf as a prophetic work in the hopes of gaining favor with the victor. Then, who knows, maybe in a half century progressivism would have taken over Europe anyway and we’d now be hearing about how Hitler should no longer be considered a hero because he was a racist.

  34. “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.”

  35. Bukharin shouldn’t be on the list at all. He did very little, just prattled.

  36. Diversity Heretic says

    If Muslims take over Europe, expect to see Hitler rehabilitated; he’s quite popular with them. Given today’s level of elite Russophobia, if it weren’t for Hitler’s antipathy towards Jews, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him given more favorable treatment: “What do you call killing 27 million Russians between 1941 and 1945? A good start!” [sarc]

  37. Why on earth Stalin gets 3? The Satan should’ve gotten – 0

  38. Why on earth Stalin gets 3? The Satan should’ve gotten – 0

    Industrialization and victory in WWII greatly outweigh his sins

  39. You’ve underrated the Founding Father of Russia by three points! And that was the man who built the Kremlin!
    And not only you forgot his son (not the greatest ruler but he conquered Smolensk), but you forgot the first Romanovs as well. I won’t comment on the rest of your rating, though, it’s strictly your opinion.

  40. Stalin’s industrialization is a propaganda myth. Not that it did not happen but the number of built factories was highly exaggerated and they were made mostly by Americans or at least with American technologies (and in part by European capitalists, including Germans). Other projects (Belomorkanal, Norilsk, etc.) were made with slave labor – not a great achievement.

  41. “It doesn’t count because it wasn’t all invented here” is one of the stupidest arguments ever produced, even on the internet.

  42. 1) Rob tsar’s gold.
    2) Sell a lot of wheat for gold and make your serfs starve and die.
    3) Buy turnkey factories from capitalists for that amassed gold.
    4) Say you are the greatest people’s leader who has built over 9000 factories.
    5) PROFIT!