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Russian Spring? - Part 2

More Voices of Russia’s Progressive Opposition

by Al Berg

PHOTO Kseniya Brailovskaya
PHOTO Kseniya Brailovskaya

Moscow - The following is the second in a four part series on the recent demonstrations in Russia.  Al Berg recently spent two months in Moscow, meeting with many radicals and interviewing four young activists.

Kseniya Brailovskaya


Kseniya is strolling down Moscow's Sakharov Avenue.  She explains how on December 24th, 100,000 people gathered there in the biggest demonstrations of recent Russian history to demand fair elections. The 34 year old sociologist works as a researcher with an NGO that investigates human rights abuses.


During the presidential election on March 4th, she was one of thousands of voluntary observers in a Moscow polling station and has no doubts that there was widespread fraud. She is enthusiastic about the oppositional awakening in the country, but considers herself apolitical. “Of all the groups taking part in the marches I feel most sympathetic with those that simply demand a just electoral process," she said.


When asked about who makes up the majority of protestors, she is certain that "it's mostly people, not directly affiliated with any of the organizations." She says, that is the difference "between now and before." 


"Committed activists have been demonstrating for years. The rallies got so huge when average people started taking part." When asked about the liberal opposition party Yabloko, favorite of western governments and media, she shrugs: "Yabloko has got nothing new to offer, they've had the same old leaders for years. However, I do vote for them, since I think they're the best option around."


Sergey Udaltsov, leader of the radical extra-parliamentary Left Front, is the oppositional political figure she has the most trust in. "Even though I am not a socialist, I take him seriously, because he is honest, the only one willing to die for his ideals." According to her Alexey Navalny, a liberal blogger with nationalist tendencies, will keep rising as a political figure. "But I consider him a nationalist, I don't trust him and I don't like him."


Her expectations of the near future are mildly optimistic. Rather than large demonstrations in Moscow, she sees people's readiness to get active with petitions and in municipal parliaments as a sign of change to come. “But we are now at a point where any of a number of future scenarios is equally likely."


Al Berg's four-part series on opposition to the Russian elects continues this week on the Media Co-op.  The first part can be read here.

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