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Russia’s Protests

Author: Anya Schmemann, Director of the Independent Task Force Program
December 19, 2011
Council on Foreign Relations


This is a guest post by Anya Schmemann on the blog, "The Water's Edge."

The day after the Russian parliamentary elections on December 5, a friend in Russia posted excitedly on Facebook from the scene of a large demonstration in Moscow.

"Chants of "Russia without Putin!" "Putin is a thief!" "Revolution!" and calls for a Russian Tahir Square. Something is going to happen. It already is."

Comments started pouring in – "Slavic Spring!" "Occupy the Kremlin!" "The Bear Awakes!"

Videos of officials surreptitiously filling in ballots went viral. Scenes of that first demonstration, not shown on Russian TV, were quickly circulated on the internet.

The mood in Russia – and here, among Russia watchers – is giddy, incredulous, and hopeful.

It's hard not to be moved by the sight of thousands of Russians taking to the streets to protest. It's hard not to be excited by the prospect of positive change in a country that has borne its share of tragedy.

"The emperor has no clothes!" "The tide has turned!" – our friends declared on Facebook.

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