Putin’s Uncertain Future Shadows a Crackdown on Moscow Protests
At least 10 key participants in the July 27 protests will be charged with fomenting mass civil unrest and violence, which carries a prison term of up to 15 years, investigators announced on Thursday. The largely peaceful protests rippling through a chilly Moscow summer were prompted by the city’s Electoral Commission barring opposition candidates from registering for city council elections on Sept. 8.
Most of Russia’s 143 million people are surviving on stagnant incomes in a struggling economy. Nearly 21 million live below the poverty line, an increase of 500,000 this year, official statistics show. Most Russians live in a gloomy, dilapidated world of terrible roads, crumbling buildings and unpredictable medical care.
The central government takes in revenue generated across the country from natural resources like oil and gas, and sends little back.
The 57 rejected candidates for the Moscow council include around 17 staunch Kremlin critics. Most of them have been jailed on sentences of up to 30 days on charges linked to the demonstrations.
One opposition politician who refused to compromise with City Hall over the location of the next protest was grabbed outside the negotiating room and sent to prison for a month.
“By the reaction of the authorities, we see that this frightens them,” said Konstantin von Eggert, a political analyst. “They are scared of the first stone that can start an avalanche.”
New York Times article
These are the largest anti-Putin protest since 2012. Is this the beginning of a more democratic Russia, a more fair Russia, a better Russia for ordinary Russians? The direct grievant is the unfair upcoming elections for Moscow and the crackdown on Kremlin critics and banning them from taking part in the elections. But it is clear that Russians do look at the Kremlin quite a bit different. The Putin regime seems to be scared and try to put the protest down.
Let's hope this is the beginning of change for Russians.