In a rare public display of disaffection, thousands of Russians took to the streets in Moscow, Vladivostok and other major cities on January 31.
Some Communist Party members carried red Soviet era flags and called for the end of capitalism. Putin’s United Russia Party simultaneously counter-rallied in support of the Kremlin’s efforts to stave off economic collapse.
The United Russia rallies were government sanctioned, of course. The authorities consider it wise to allow the public to “let off steam” about the financial meltdown, given that the alternative is a possible mass uprising, particularly among doctors, teachers and others who rely upon government salaries.
However, unsanctioned protesters were arrested by the dozens in Moscow, including Eduard Limonov of the outlawed National Bolshevik party. Meanwhile, approximately one hundred members of Garry Kasparov’s United Civic Front and other liberal organizations were “attacked by young men wearing surgical masks and wielding flagpoles,” according to a Reuters report.
Ideological opposites, Limonov and Kasparov lead a coalition of scattered opposition groups called “The Other Russia.”
Is such open dissent a sign that Vladimir Putin’s rule is in jeopardy?