If Saturday’s protest is as large as its organizers expect — the city has granted a permit for 30,000 — Mr. Navalny will be credited for mobilizing a generation of young Russians through social media, a leap much like the one that spawned Occupy Wall Street and youth uprisings across Europe this year.
That was what New York Times reporter Ellen Barry had to say about Aleksei Navalny and the “protest movement” allegedly sweeping Russia, ending in a massive demonstration in Moscow. She didn’t care to speculate about Mr. Navalny’s fate in the event no such protest occurred. She did not care to mention that the Western protests were not based on any cult of personality, or that they were long-lived and truly national in scope. She may not have known that even as her crazy diatribe was going live, the first of the “waves of protest” that organizers were predicting was breaking in Russia’s Far East.
200 people showed up in Vladivostok.
The sole basis for suggesting that 30,000 might come to the streets in Moscow was that a number like that had signed on to a Facebook page calling for participation in the Moscow rally. And the breathless Barry could not even wait to see if they showed up before anointing Navalny as an epic, earth-shaking hero. Slow news day over at the Gray Lady, you think?
Even if 30,000 people did show up, that’s in a city of 15 million. It’s o.02% of the population. It’s only more evidence that the vast majority of Russians will continue to sit on the sidelines, doing nothing as Putin consolidates his neo-Soviet dictatorship. Exactly the same behavior they showed during the time of Stalin.
And what would they be protesting, exactly, if they all came out into the streets? The fact that hundreds of thousands of votes were stolen from the Communist Party, which should have taken at least a quarter of the total vote? The fact that two Kremlin sycophants, Just Russia and LDPR, should have gotten lots more votes too? Is that really a basis for breathless, gushing excitement over Russia’s future?
We’ve seen some utterly idiotic reporting on Russia in our time, but the coverage of the aftermath of the elections to the Russian Duma is truly unhinged even by those standards. Russians totally ignored Putin’s vicious crackdown on opposition parties, and turned a blind eye while Kasyanov, Nemtsov, Ryzhkov, Kasparov, Alexeeva and others were barred from offering alternatives to Putin’s dictatorship. They did not demand any serious debates, nor did they even demand any role in United Russia’s nominating process. Only when the sham election had been completed did they decide to raise a very small, insignificant, meaningless squeak of protest, and only in response to the cult of personality being developed by hardcore nationalist Aleksei Navalny.
This isn’t a sign of hope for Russia. It’s a sign of the beginning of the end. And with reporting this ignorant in the so-called “enlightened” West, Russia can hardly have any hope of assistance from abroad in its time of desperate need.