Feature

Russia: Rallying for the status quo

“The majority of the population of Russia is not yet ready for a revolution," said Dmitry Babich at The Moscow News.

Dmitry BabichThe Moscow News

Russian intellectuals—and Westerners—have been far too quick to dismiss last week’s pro-Putin demonstration as a sham, said Dmitry Babich. They say that only the anti-Putin protest, which brought tens of thousands of people into Moscow’s freezing streets, was a legitimate expression of popular anger, while the equally large counter-protest was staged by the Kremlin. It’s true that some of the people at the counterprotest were paid to be there, and that others were government workers bused in. But most in attendance were just regular Russians, part of this country’s “conservative majority” that fears rapid change. Independent opinion polls confirm that Vladimir Putin enjoys more than 50 percent support—which is not overwhelming, but certainly not insignificant. “The majority of the population of Russia is not yet ready for a revolution.” The people’s lives are hard right now, and they are “not ready to lose what they’ve got in the name of some very vague promise of honest elections every four years”—especially when that promise comes from billionaire oligarchs. Rather than “sneering” at these conservatives, we should respect their newfound political activism. If Russia is to change for the better, it needs both conservatives and progressives.

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