Should we fear the Russian Antimaidan?

B-YBtFxIEAAAloC

 

2015/02/21 • Analysis & Opinion

This Saturday, a large rally in Moscow shook social media with pictures of endless columns of protesters sporting signs deriding the West’s “degenerate” values and Ukraine’s pro-democracy Euromaidan movement. Such a huge protest in the center of a capital calling not for change, but, rather, for absence of change, can shock a Western observer and perhaps convince him that Russian society is beyond recovery in its adoration of the ruthless dictator feared and derided by the rest of the world, even despite the economic hardships he has brought on the nation. But perhaps this is what Putin wants you to think, and the grotesque images of the “Antimaidan” rally are as much aimed at the rest of the world as at domestic viewers.

B-X3HodCMAAfGZB

This image pretty much sums up today’s Antimaidan

 

The Moscow rally was perhaps as artificial as the Russian-manufactured “civil war” in Ukraine. Numerous reports of doctors, teachers, bureaucrats and students alike forced to attend, “protesters” shuttled in by buses from across central Russia, rent-a-crowd operations exposed by many sources in Russian independent media all explain the exact mechanism of fabricating active support of Putin and “stability”. Moreover, similar rallies held in regional capitals on the same day gathered several hundred at best, despite the regions being traditionally regarded as more conservative and supportive of the regime. Perhaps the number-bolstering techniques were limited to Moscow, which explains the failure of “genuine” Antimaidans across Russia.

Novaya Gazeta’s reporter Natasha Zotova went undercover as a rent-a-crowd protester and received her 300 rubles

The practice of such rallies, derided in Russian liberal circles as “putings” (a portmanteau of Putin and “miting” – the Russian word for “rally”), is nothing new. While forced attendance was characteristic of many Soviet “demonstrations” held on state holidays, the practice was abandoned during the early post-Soviet years and revived on a large scale during Putin’s 2012 presidential campaign. Pioneered in Yekaterinburg, it culminated with enormous rallies at Poklonnaya and Luzhniki, gathering countless thousands of mostly forced attendees. Marked by the same anti-revolution narrative, these rallies were meant as a counterweight for the pro-democracy protests that shook Moscow that winter, the largest in the history of modern Russia.

mi2

The rally ay Poklonnaya on February 4, 2012, that gathered over 100,000, according to official sources.

 

It’s interesting to note that that time the forced attendance and rent-a-crowd techniques were not limited to Moscow, with regional “putings” easily outweighting local anti-Putin rallies in some cases tenfold. Even the price of rent-a-crowd back then was as high as 500 rubles ($17 at 2012 rates), Antimaidan offered as little as 300 rubles ($5). It’s quite possible there simply aren’t enough available resources to simulate popular support, suggesting that by the time the crisis hits in full, the government will have to rely on the traditional law enforcement and what little sincere support Antimaidan can gather.

67976_original

Pro-Putin march in Novosibirsk, winter 2012

To get an understanding of how strong Antimaidan really is we could look at the “Donbas rallies”, held in Moscow several times without much government support. These rallies always gathered as few as 1000-3000, quite few compared to the 30,000-50,000 Antimaidan and the anti-war “Peace Marches” gathering willing opponents of Russian aggression in numbers similar to the latter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From left to right: a Pro-Donbas rally, an anti-agression Peace March, the recent Antimaidan

Even if the Kremlin manages to keep up Antimaidan’s numbers, the tactics is ineffective weapon against real protesters, as shown by Ukraine’s original Antimaidan (that managed to pull off deadly attacks against Euromaidan protesters, yet dispersed and fled in the end). In an example from recent Russian history, the “Putin youth” movements nurtured by Kremlin’s string-puller Surkov in the 2000s after the first Ukrainian Maidan, failed to fulfill their main goal of stalling anti-government protests, despite arriving to Moscow in large numbers.  In the end the government still had to resort to riot police, just like during the “Manezh” protest on December 29, 2014, when the nascent Antimaidan failed to overpower the protesters in central Moscow.

The original Antimaidan's abandoned camp in Mariinskyi Park, Kiev, February 2014

The original Antimaidan’s abandoned camp in Mariinskyi Park, Kyiv, February 2014

Perhaps another reason behind the Antimaidan rally is again a counterweight to the “Spring” march to be held on March 1 in an outlying Moscow district of Maryino. Although the protesters don’t intend to turn the rally to a Maidan copycat, they are still demanding for Putin to resign due to his aggressive policies and mishandling the economy leading Russia to a deepening crisis. While the ostensible failure of the 2011-2012 protest movement to change things in Russia led to protesters’ numbers increasingly dwindling, the crisis may spark a new life to the protest movement and the “Spring March” could easily surpass Antimaidan’s numbers. Don’t let the fake rallies fool you, wait for the sincerely concerned Russians to speak their mind on the streets of Moscow.

Volunteers in central Moscow promoting the upcoming "Spring March"

Volunteers in central Moscow promoting the upcoming “Spring March”

Tags: ,

  • Brent

    No, we should not ‘fear’ the Antimaidan Rally. If that is what these Russians want, to deride our values and our way of life, that is their choice. That just means we are not obligated to share our values, our economies, our sporting events, our banking system and our freedoms with them. We can isolate them to protect ourselves from them and their values of invasion, war, murdering, kidnapping, lying and extortion. Let them live in their oppressive cocoon of hatred and mistrust and they can turn on each other instead of their innocent neighbors. I will support their neighbors who want the same peace and freedom and share my values of liberty and freedom, but I do not have to support those that already tell me they hate me.

    If any Russians who share our ‘evil Western’ values want to come and join us, they should be more than welcome. If any of our ‘stooges’ or ‘useful idiots’ who support the Russian values want to live that lifestyle, I’ll help pay for their ticket.

    • evanlarkspur

      Bravo

    • Кирилл Михайлов

      These Russians you talk about are the small clique of Antimaidan’s masterminds that can and should be isolated in a maximum security prison. Any broad conclusions on Russian values are dictated to you by the Kremlin.

      • Brent

        There are millions of good honest Russians. They need to stand up and take their country back from the thugs in power. Not for me. Not for Ukraine. But for their children. It’s time to stop being sheep of Russia and time to start being citizens of the World.

        They need to make a choice between “speaking in Russian” or “being silent in Russian”.

        • Dalton

          Well said Brent

    • GIVVO6_B

      Your values are a joke! You are just the Hitler supporters who murder Poles in their 10s of thousands. It is time to put an end to the fascist coup from Maidan.

      • Dirk Smith

        LOL.

  • Silencionomore

    I found it hilariously typical of russian idiots who have NO freedom, are FORCED to attend events or else they would be arrested and sent to the salt mines if they didn’t, FORCED to look for scraps of food stuck to the road to keep up their energy as shown in some of the pictures above and in some cases I heard about, there was a poster declaring that russians will never do what anyone else tells them which is bizarre as they were doing EXACTLY what someone else told them anyway – else they would just disappear. Silly old fools. Think they are superior when they are NOT, think they are powerful when they are NOT. The list goes on. So then, you dopey brain dead russians, while you queue for bread, drive in cars that fall to bits after a few days, speak only what you are told to speak without having the basic freedoms to think for yourselves and speak for yourselves, we, in the west will have the best food, the best cars, freedoms to speak our minds and have unlimited freedom of choice, go on wonderful holidays with freedom to travel anywhere WE want. Remeber this when you are shivering in the bread queues and driving your old delapidated soviet two stroke motorcars, thats if you can actually afford one!. One last comment to russia: UP YOURS!!.

    • Кирилл Михайлов

      That was incredibly chauvinistic, something I could expect from the lowliest Kremlin’s pawns.

      • Silencionomore

        Ha Ha Ha. A kremi troll who cannot understand English or lives inside a mirror where everything is in reverse.

      • Nikolai Kalinovski

        You Russian or Ukrainian? Name looks Russian but I’m not sure.

    • GIVVO6_B

      Ukrainian freedom is based on supporting Stepan Bandera

      • Silencionomore

        …and russians are based on Hitlerisms of a sick scale with a paedo at the helm.

  • Dirk Smith

    Or perhaps it was just the free vodka to appear?!

  • Evelyn Myketa Livingston

    Can we assume that all those Russians living in the west but still mean mouthing the west will return to good old moscow? I think they are more reprehensible then the ones who never left.

    • evanlarkspur

      Infinitely more reprehensible. Trying to burn down the very house they live in. If you are Russian, living in the West while attacking it, just go home. Your comments will have so much moral authority from behind the Putin Curtain.

    • Milan Schulz

      spot on. We recently lost a friend to their inability to block-out the the call to arms by the lord of the sheep. It is quite bizarre that they should live in a free western society, reaping the benefits of it’s social support system yet worshipping their supreme master Putin khuylo. These ‘friends’ so far as to say they have a ‘right’ to like Putin just because they are Russian. The sheep disease spreads world-wide it seems

      • GIVVO6_B

        Nothing free about the American dominated west. It is just ruled by psychopaths who see themselves as indispensable and exceptional. The west is like the world of 1984. USA has murdered 30 million people since 1945 after the Soviet Union won WW2 against Ukrainian concentration camp guards and Banderists and other assorted Nazis.

        • Milan Schulz

          You obviously received your education in the soviet union. You do realize that the whole world accepts western view of history because it is based on fact. Your version exists in a parallel universe where the Utopian socialist society exists. Your words are as empty as your skull

  • ct

    Putin now owns every man, woman and child in Russia. Only $5 bucks a head. What a deal! Clever of him to wait for the rubble to drop…

  • Kruton

    Surrender Bolshevik lunatics and we will give you vodka and dried fish!

  • Jens A

    Dictators of the world always pretend to be “strong”, even when they are not. Putin managed to waste an all time best option to modernize Russian economy over a time of 14 years with high oil prices. He forced a few neighbors to be his friends and during that process he gathered a lot of enemies and those few “friends” he bought, he also managed to humiliate recently and in reality he cannot rely on them at all. I think that only Putin’s good friend Mugabe, has managed to do equally bad. Let us hope for us all, not least the Russians, that Putin will not last as long as Mugabe.

    • GIVVO6_B

      He did a much better job than the leadership of that totally failed state and American puppet called Ukraine.

      • Jens A

        Get your kopek from your Vova

        • GIVVO6_B

          Get your Nazi war criminals from Western Ukraine

          • Jens A

            That comment expose who you are. Yes, you should get a kopek from your Vova. Maybe even two.

  • Charles J. Kollman

    Yes i agree with you Brent 100%. So at these rallies many were forced to go in this case i don’t know if they also were given 300 Ruble in Dollars of today $ 4.849 not very much. I do not claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed. I now that America lost it’s innocents on
    Nov. 22,1963 the last time America had an honest President and since it has been down hill. Most Americans are soft fat lazy gullible and naive and still are living in a dream. They love for the government to take care of all their wants and needs and for free. I pray that soon we will take our Country back out of the hands of Fascist liberal progressive liberals. We have a special Nation it is not now or has it ever been a Democracy. Our Constitution has four branches most think three meaning The President Vice President Senate House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. The fourth branch is at the begining of The Constitution.” We The People ” The Constitution never uses the word Democracy. The Framers build a Nation on the idea that America is a Representative Constitutional Republic and We The People have ten Rights that are The Bill of Rights. Hear this Mr. Putin America is the greatest freest Country that ever was. Those in the past CCCP. could not clean the boots of our Patriots. Putin believes that The CCCP. will stand again and with they same Republics in it. Mr. Putin has a problem with his brain and it is getting worse as time goes on. Yes Mr. Putin America is Special and a outstanding Nation. My Country Freedom Putin My Country Freedom Putin these people have been programed they can not see any truth. Fuck the CCCP. and those who believe in it and support it.

    • Milan Schulz

      Now give my people some god-damned guns to defend their right to freedom!

      • Charles J. Kollman

        Just weapons would be good without God. NATO. needs now to let The Ukraine become a member. NATO. has jerked The Ukraine long enough. The Ukraine Military first needs to have training on the use of weapons and how to use them right. They need training on how an Army works and functions. Right now i see there is no control or a plan, it is like hit and miss. To train people the right and how to use weapons would take at least maybe 8 weeks. Better late then never, but better never late. As you know a hammer breaks glass and it also forges steel.

        • GIVVO6_B

          Nazis indulged in genocide of the Russian speaking people of Donbass need disarming before Russia decides to take them out! Putin is rather slow and needs to be spurred into action like he was in Georgia when those idiots attacked Russian peacekeepers.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Yes war is hell man becomes an animal. But to move on in this world the idea of the mentality of the Soviet Union must go. Yes you are correct the Nazis indulged in genocide, but this was more then just Russians. Will you tell me that Stalin did not take part in genocide. He had some of his best military officers killed because he did not trust them.He killed many many Russian people and how about all Ukraine’s that died under his hand. Will you tell me that this is American propaganda.

          • GIVVO6_B

            It is not Stalinists involved in mass murder in Donetsk. It is The Hitlerite supporters of Bandera.

      • GIVVO6_B

        Don’t give mass murdering Nazis any weapons or they will use them again to bombard civilians in Novorussia.

        • Milan Schulz

          Hello Mr Troll

          • GIVVO6_B

            Hello Mr Nazi supporter and friend of US imperialism. USA is a (morally and financially) bankrupt entity that mass murders brown people everywhere.

          • Milan Schulz

            All I can do is laugh. The US’s imperialism works through culture, globalization, diplomacy and ideology. Russian imperialism is stuck in the 19th Century mate. Russia has always been behind the times and it is apparent now more then ever. Subterfuge, espionage, lies, military intervention, bullying, war, expansionism and black mail. These are the traits of Russian imperialism. I personally would much rather live in a world dominated by USA then by Russia. If you think otherwise then you are quote the silly fool, please, by all means, go live in Russia

  • GIVVO6_B

    If anyone listens to those clowns, Russia would turn into a totally failed state like Ukraine.