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Russian Spring? Part 4

More Voices of Russia’s Progressive Opposition

by Al Berg

PHOTO Vera Akulova
PHOTO Vera Akulova

Moscow - The following is the final installment 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.

Vera Akulova

Vera Akulova is a feminist -  at times self-assured, at times self-conscious. She's proud to say that she's a bad cook and slightly shy about the fact that she is married at age 23. She has a degree in linguistics, speaks four languages, and makes a modest living as a translator. She has been active in a range of radical movements, but until lately has been working as a spokesperson for an organization called Za Feminizm (For Feminism).
    
Vera is also a leftist, so when speaking about the protest movement in general, she says: "I am happy to see the left playing a more important role lately, because the social aspect needs to be addressed more by the opposition."

She gives leader Sergey Udaltsov and his Left Front credit for having successfully mobilized more average people to get involved. “What's at stake now is exactly who gets to influence the majority of the population, meaning the working class. For now, they've been on the side of the government, out of hopelessness. They are, of course, the decisive force. If these people rise, there is no stopping them," she said.

She shares other activists' sentiment that both leftist Udaltsov and [liberal blogger with nationalist tendencies] Navalny have the potential to mobilize broad support for political change. But as a feminist, she cautions: "Sadly, the Russian left, much like Russian society as a whole, is quite sexist and homophobic. The common sentiment on patriarchy is 'Lets deal with it after the revolution', while Udaltsov, in order to gain favor with working people, has publicly distanced himself from LGBTQ-issues."

She says that Navalny on the other hand, is known to have a nationalist vein, which he might emphasize more in the future in order to attract the masses . That would be catastrophic, not least of all for gender justice, as that ideology is explicitly sexist and homophobic.

Aside from general politics, Vera believes there is hope on the feminist front.

"I see people, women, feminists, who only used to passively  read blogs, getting active all of a sudden," she said. "There is sort of a general civic awakening, with people realizing that they can change things. There is a lot of potential. Growing up, during the Putin years, we lived in a period of stability, passivity and hopelessness. Those years are definitely coming to an end. We are now entering a phase of hope.”
    
This concludes Al Berg's four-part series on opposition to the Russian election on the Media Co-op.  The first part can be read here.  The second here and the third here.


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