February 05, 2012

Putin's Counterattack


Putin's Counterattack

It seems like those in power are starting to get very worried, and therefore have gone over onto the counterattack. All across the country, they are herding people to pro-Putin rallies, handing out stenciled posters, then declaring what huge support he has.

On February 4, the very day when the opposition demonstration was to take place on Moscow’s Yakimanka ulitsa, they bused in a huge number of people for a pro-Putin meeting at Poklonnaya Gora, with promises to pay the demonstrators as well as, it was rumored, to pass out free vodka.

I live near Poklonnaya Gora (a park and site of a World War II monument), and when my daughter and I left our building in order to head over to Yakimanka, it was absolutely horrific. Crowds with all sorts of strange people were walking down the street, clearly having just been bused in from little towns and villages in the Moscow region. The heftily-built men were already drunk, and obviously very happy that they would be able to drink some more. Yet the saddest thing was that, among them were Moscow teachers. The call had gone out to all the schools: send five teachers each to the demonstration. Everyone knew all about this, but practically no one spoke about it openly. They didn’t try to force anyone from our school to go to the pro-Putin rally. I gather it was because we did not shrink from encouraging our graduates to attend the December 16 opposition rally. There was a bit of a scandal, but now they don’t touch us.

At the pro-Putin rally, apparently someone asked from the podium, “Is there anyone who was brought here against their will?” The crowd chuckled and gleefully cried out, “Noooo!” After this the audience was told that Putin is the foundation for stability, and people should not rock the boat.

Over on Yakimanka, things were very lively indeed. The crowd was very diverse and, as always, their creative spirit was in full swing. Each poster was funnier than the last. One had portraits of Kaddafi, Lukashenko, Stalin and Putin – the first three of course with mustaches. Under the portraits was a line from Diamond Arm, one of Russians’ favorite and most popular movies: “Why did Volodka shave off his ‘stash?”

A graduate of our school and some of his friends carried a huge banner (in English): “No Putin No Cry.” [A reference to the Bob Marley song, “No Woman, No Cry”.] Next to them, practically being carried along, was an old woman. Judging by the huge number of medals on her chest, she had been through the entire Second World War, which means she was about 90. She had a huge poster on her back: “I vote for a presidential term of 3-5-10-25 years, but not in the Kremlin… in Kolyma.” Now that’s a woman!

And the excellent writer Dmitry Bykov was carrying a poster that quickly became the symbol of the anti-Putin rally: “Don’t rock the boat, it’s making the rat sick!”

Photo credit: Zzabavka

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.

About Us

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.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955