About the “Snow Revolution” in Russia

The civic and political events experienced by Russia in the recent days have probably been, one more time, treated in an excessive and erroneous manner by the mainstream media. Russian spring, Snow revolution, weakening of the Putin regime, Arab revolution in Moscow…

The excessive critics which were often obsessively directed towards the Prime Minister are certainly in total harmony with a few slogans that I heard at the demonstration. But they are more than anything far from the reality on the ground and far from what the vast majority of Russians think. 

This time, the French speaking mainstream media did not equaled the English speaking one, when  one of the most important television channels commented the events in Russia by using images of the riots in Greece. Yet one knows how rare the palms treesare in Moscow and that the Russian police does not wear not Greek uniforms. Any additional comment is unnecessary: just watch the reportage[1].

Let us start from the beginning. Following the parliamentary elections on December 4, cases of electoral fraud have been identified. However, a serious and non emotional analysis shows that the differences between the surveys, the surveys following the vote, the etimate and the results[2], are only tangible in the Caucasus or eventually in Moscow, as I had mentionedhere. 

Let’s remind that the traditional and conservative Chechen structure (like the role of the teïps for example) may be a voting factor rather difficult to understand. The other frauds that were denounced essentially concern Moscow,where the score of United Russia was apparently inflated according to an exit poll survey published by the FOM institute[3] during the counting of votesand that was a hornet’s nest. Oddly enough this survey is no longer online on their site todaybut it was published again on many blogs. And what is easier to manipulate than an exit poll survey realized by an institute? The demonstration movements have therefore mainly concerned Moscow and St. Petersburg, who collected the ¾ of the country’s demonstrations.

In fact, what aboutthe denounced fraudpropagated on the Internet, through social networks, Youtube, and that the Western journalists keep quoting restlessly since the elections? 7,664 incidents[4] of various types have been identified covering all the polling stations during the elections (in Russia and abroad).

Among these incidents,the number of reported cases of frauds in the counting of votes is of 437. Now let’s have a look at what the website of Golos, an“independent” association specialised in election monitoring. Golos counts 66[5] cases showing a difference in the counts of  observers compared with the final results. Each time the difference of votes was around 100, 200 or 300 depending on the case. The analysis is the same forVedemosti which publishes a detailed analysis[6] of Moscow’s election in which about 30cases were reported by the Iabloko observers (opposition party) for the entire capital.    Can anybody imagine that those 20,000 votes in dispute (at the highest estimate) may allow United Russia to double its score in Moscow?

Has anybodynoticed that the “independent” observers orthose of Golos or Iabloko have found no fraud whatsoever in the rest of  the 3,374 polling stations of the capital? Can anybody believe that these fewcases of fraud throughout the country could  have completely reversed the election’s outcome? One can seriously doubt it. 

Since the elections, no one challengedthe irregularities, the frauds and the systemic failures identified by the different observers, political parties and associations. But of course one cannot compare Moscow toChicago, where 100,000 votes had disappeared[7] during an electionin 1982.    In addition, many international observers havevalidated the Russian elections, whether you look here[8],here[9] or there[10]. The Golos association (that is very involved in the frauds denunciation in Russia) was funded by the very powerfulAmerican associations USAID[11] and NED[12].    Golos was recently caught in theact so to speak, asthe Russian  press justpublished an email exchange between the head of Golos  and some USAID officials, asking them how muchthe association could charge (at the moment of the previous elections in Russia) forreporting frauds and abuses[13].  

But the excitement on Internet regarding rigged elections worked very well and about 35,000 people gathered at a large demonstration last Saturday in Moscow (a demonstration I also attended[14]), asking for new elections. The demonstration was called the Snow revolution and participants wore white carnations[15]but also flowers[16]. This combination of symbols is a strange reminiscence of the symbols of the revolutions of colours (also called Flowers revolutions) that took place in Serbia in 2000, inGeorgia in 2003 and in Ukraine in 2004. Even stranger, the site of the mysterious and new association which organized the movement was also called BelayaLenta[17]. This is an Internet domain name that was filed in the United States in October 2011. 

I personally found the demonstration extremely interesting. It brought together heterogeneous political movementsand associations. A number of people came to see what was going on and were surprised of the size of the rally. I would describe the average participant as the Moscow upper middle class. Those rather young and mostly male participants were convinced that their vote was stolen, or were attending the demonstration simply to express their hostility to the Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin. 

The meeting was co-organized by the eternal liberal opponents Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Milov and Michael Kasyanov and federated within the Parnas[18], as well as Sergei Udaltsov[19], the leader of the far-Left Front. Sergei Udaltsov was also a former member of the liberal / communist coalition “Other Russia”[20], which brought together ultra left-wing, national-Bolsheviks and pro-Western liberals.  Liberal and pro-Western associations were also present, just like the Communist Party and Fair Russia and a various far-left movements: the anarchists, the Left Front and Third World movements. But another totally unexpected element for a foreign observer was the strong presence of the extreme right: neo-Nazis[21], nationalists or even monarchists. Foreigners reading this text may wonder how people who are so different could walk peacefully side by side.  

There were a lot of anti-Putin slogans, but no rioting demonstrators at the end of the demonstration. This animosity in the slogans towards the Prime Minister was therefore expressed in very different fields.  For some, Putin is an autocrat, for others on the contrary, he is too nationalistic, too liberal or too little left wing.

A symbol that was absent from the demonstration was the blogger AlexeiNavalny, who seemed thoughto be the perfect and unexpected synthesis between liberals and right-wing radicals. This very popular blogger (he is more popular in the West than inRussia) is a former member of the Iabloko liberal movement. He is at the origin of theslogan “United Russia, party of crooks and thieves”, which is used by the opponents of Vladimir Putin and of the slogan »Vote for anyone except for United Russia».

He also participated this year in the “Russian march”[22], the march of the far-right
movements in Russia, congratulating himself “to have the chance to educate this radical youth».    But his mailbox was hacked, which helped to demonstrate that he was[23] (like the Golos association) an employee of the American Association NED (one of the essential supporting  structures to the revolutions of Colour over the recent years and inside the post-Soviet space).

AlexeiNavalny is also closely related to AlexanderBelov, the representative of the former DPNI, a far right-wingstructure viscerally anti Kremlin. Apart from the influence of Golos and Navalny, one should note that the U.S. have recently promised to increase their aid to the  associations operating in Russia, assuring that this aid is not intended to undermine the country’s political stability – which one can sincerely doubt about.

I attended this demonstration and two main thoughts come to my mind.   First, the rally ended peacefully[24]: it was a demonstration of maturity of the Russian society, from both the demonstrators and the state. 

From now on, the constantlyemphasized myth of the repressive state is no longer valid. The protesters respected thelegal framework, everything went smoothly without any serious incidents.Second, the serious and constructive claims of manydemonstrators (asking for free medicine and a reform of the education, for example) seemed to fit the demands of an electorateclose to the Communist Party or to the party of the new left block “Just Russia”. 

This left block will occupyapproximately one third of the new assembly and seems to be the real opposition force that emerged from the electionsofDecember 4, more than a hypothetical and fantastical orange / brown / redcoalitionreunited in a meeting  organized by eternal losers or by leaders of small groups.It is now plausible that the Russian political life will structure itself around two main blocks: a center-right: United Russia, and a left wing mainstream. 

These two observations make me think that the Russian political life should thus keep its stability, while the U.S.purpose of Color revolution in Russia will sink into oblivion.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zacVsn-uYNk [2] http://darussophile.com/2011/12/08/duma-elections-opinion-polls/ [3] http://fom.ru/ [4] http://www.kartanarusheniy.org/ [5] http://www.alexandrelatsa.ru/2011/12/2011.html [6] http://www.vedomosti.ru/tnews/geo/elections-discrepancy [7] http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/04/where-theres-smoke-theres-fire-100000-stolen-votes-in-chicago [8] english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/05/61568822.html [9] http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/international-observers-comment-on-the-validity-of-russian-elections-135015558.html [10 http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/05/61568822.html [11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOLOS_Association#Relationships_with_USAID [12] http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/eurasia/russia [13] http://www.lifenews.ru/news/76604 [14] http://www.alexandrelatsa.ru/2011/12/la-revolution-des-neiges.html [15] http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RqdF-7Zw0JI/TuSU–5KWXI/AAAAAAAAF6E/x63u-kN8qag/s1600/DSC_0474.JPG [16] http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sADJP7FhLwA/TuSU5NJ5C7I/AAAAAAAAF58/_vdFg3jX9_Q/s1600/DSC_0473.JPG [17] http://www.belayalenta.com/ [18] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Freedom_Party [19] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Udaltsov [20] http://www.theotherrussia.org/ [21] http://ridus-news.livejournal.com/449071.html [22] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2057649/Nazi-saluting-nationalists-Take-Russia-march-Moscow-Muslim-migrants.html [23] http://slon.ru/russia/kompromat_na_navalnogo_vse_tayny_vraga_kremlya-692390.xhtml [24] http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-pmZa9u3417Y/TuSYryogg7I/AAAAAAAAF_c/ppYdOq1O62Q/s1600/DSC_0589.JPG

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