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March 07, 2012

Esquire Magazine: "What the Hell Is Happening in Russia?"

Every month, both Esquire magazine and the Russian people get feistier and funnier. And although this Esquire piece appeared on March 2, just before Vladimir Putin's reelection on Sunday, March 4, it's the best current report on The Russian Bourgeoisie Gone Wild you could visit. Much of its power, and charm, comes from its timeline summaries of the uprising beginning with the December 4, 2011 protests. The truth--and the truth is especially important here, as we watch eastern Europeans change before our eyes into different kinds of voters and humans--is also hilarious. Note: If you don't think Russian politics affects your customers, clients, business or professional practice, think again. Excerpts from December 10th and 24 summaries:

DECEMBER 10: As more evidence of fraud and abuse from courts, police stations, and prisons hits Facebook, protesters organize another rally. Fifty to sixty thousand people (half of them registered in a Facebook event called "Rally for Fair Elections") come to Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, right across the river from the Kremlin, and meet under banners that vary from serious to silly: "No Taxation Without Representation," "I Didn't Vote for These Bastards, I Voted for the Other Bastards".

Even though the protesters chant, "Putin, Leave!", the mood of the whole movement is decidedly less aggressive. And even though the protesters' demands are clear — cancel the election results, fire Churov, punish those responsible for fraud, and set up fair elections — nobody really listens to the people who speak from the stage, mostly old-school oppositional leaders, from the Right and from the ultra-Left, who have fiercely fought Putin's regime for the last decade without much success and without many followers. Most of the protesters simply stand there, talking to their friends about where to go on YouTube to see fresh evidence of election fraud and where they should meet for drinks after the rally.

DECEMBER 24: Seventy thousand to eighty thousand people meet on Sakharov Avenue, and this time they are pissed. They meet under banners that read "We Are Not Monkey People, and Russia Is No Jungle" and play on Putin's "condom" comment by referring to him as a "scumbag." They reiterate their calls for free and fair elections, and in theory the authorities could easily go through with all these demands. In the twelve years of Putin's reign, the Russian parliament has become totally dependent on the presidency, its members — irrespective of party affiliation — voting according to instructions from the government.

Esquire/(Top) Denis Sinyakov/Reuters; (bottom left) Max Avdeev; (bottom right) GREENFIELD/SIPA

Posted by JD Hull at March 7, 2012 07:02 PM


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