In Russia we have one thing in common – if you have your own political views, regardless of whether you agree with the party in charge, you just sit in the kitchen at home chatting about the situation with friends and relatives. Nothing more, just kitchen talks. You can be very angry, and sometimes, if there is alcohol, the conversation might end in a fight. But that’s it—your anger never leaves your flat. Until recent events, I considered myself a rather politically indifferent person. Not exactly indifferent—I certainly have my own position—but I never stood up for it publicly, and I never thought I would try to prove it.
But there have been situations in Russian history when long-suffering patience bursts like a bubble and these kitchen talks turn into real actions. In contrast to European countries, the Russian bubble gets much bigger before it bursts. But for Russia, I think the bursting moment has come again after last Sunday’s Duma elections. Everyone knows about the widespread falsifications, yet there is not a word on television. I have friends from Moscow State University who worked in a local polling station, and they were told by the head of the elections committee to disregard any violations. Not a single one of my friends voted for United Russia. No one has, really, so how could the party be declared the winner?
As for me, I never imagined that I would participate in a political protest. I thought—and I still generally do think—that protest actions are the least effective way to express displeasure. I thought that a protest can’t change anything. People just gather together, print some posters, and shout some slogans. But what if that is the only way to make your voice heard? What else can you do, if your constitutional right to vote is disregarded and scorned, your vote not counted?
On December 5, the biggest opposition protest in years was held. The media estimated that over 5000 people came out to express their resentment of falsified election results. The participants were very diverse—politicians, musicians, university students, pensioners, and even schoolchildren. All had been deceived by their own government. I was there. I also shouted and clapped. I want those in the Kremlin to understand that there are people who are not scared by police lawlessness and impunity, who insist that their voices be heard and their opinions respected. After the protest, there were confrontations with the police, and several hundred people were arrested. Arrests of protesters are nothing new for Moscow; each month, opposition activists gather on Triumfalnaya Square to defend Article 31 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to hold meetings and rallies. And each month, those same opposition activists end up in jail.
It is not right. It is not democratic. I cannot accept election results that do not actually depend on the elections themselves. That is why I will join the tens of thousands of my fellow citizens—who are also dissatisfied, who also can no longer remain silent in the face of corruption—on December 10th, not far from the Kremlin.
The author, Solomon, is a 21-year-old student at Moscow University. He asked that we not use his last name.
Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567