Putin versus civil society
The long struggle for freedom

Reuters

Members of the Yabloko political party wave party flags, as interior ministry troops look on, during an protest march in Moscow, June 12, 2013.

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Article Highlights

  • Civil unrest, no matter where it takes place, is always difficult to assess.

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  • Today's Russian protests have come to resemble past civil-rights and civil-resistance efforts in other parts of the world.

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  • A Russia that is free, prosperous, and democratic, may again be within the grasp of the Russian people.

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Leon Aron is resident scholar and director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Insitute, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank. His most recent book is Roads to the Temple: Memory, Truth, Ideals and Ideas in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987–1991 (2012).

Civil unrest, no matter where it takes place, is always difficult to assess. For experts and policy makers, the dilemma is depicted by metaphors as well-worn as they are accurate: Flash in the pan or tip of the iceberg? Do demonstrations and rallies manifest intense but fleeting anger and frustration? Or do they represent enduring sentiments that eventually may force major reforms or even a change in regime?

Evaluating the prospects for Russia's "new" protesters, who began to mobilize en masse after fraudulent State Duma elections in December 2011, and the civil society from which they sprang is no exception. Perhaps history can help us to understand contemporary developments. Of course, no historical parallel is perfect, but though history is hardly an infallible guide, it is the only one we have and may have something to teach us here. Today's Russian protests have increasingly come to resemble past civil-rights and civil-resistance efforts in other parts of the world, including the Indian independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi (1917–47), the U.S. civil-rights movement (1945–70), Solidarity in Poland (1979–81), "People Power" in the Philippines (1983–86), the anti-Pinochet movement in Chile (1983–88), the mass demonstrations of the glasnost revolution in the Soviet Union (1987–91), the struggle against Slobodan Miloševiæ in Serbia (1991–2000), Georgia's Rose Revolution in 2003, and Ukraine's Orange Revolution a year later.

Despite myriad differences, the people who participated in those movements—whether in support of racial equality, democratization, or decolonization, or in opposition to corruption, police brutality, or discrimination— would instantly recognize the two essential and overlapping demands of the Russian protesters: 1) an end to de facto disenfranchisement, wherein votes cast for the "wrong" party or candidate are "undercounted" or do not count at all; and 2) equality before the law, which is daily subverted and distorted by authorities at all levels—as low as the traffic police and as high as the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission.

The movement's first demand was the nullification of the 2011 elections and the scheduling of a new fair and transparent vote. "We are not allowed to vote in our own country!" "Give me back my voice!" "Don't kill freedom, don't steal votes! Putin has stolen our voices!" (In Russian, the word for "voice" and "vote" are the same—golos.) Demonstrators, some wearing tape over their mouths, carried signs bearing these and thousands of other slogans in late 2011.1 One protester at a rally in Novosibirsk (1,750 miles from Moscow) told a reporter that the law "must be the same for all."[2] The falsification of the election results was a "violation of our rights as citizens," declared another demonstrator, a middle-aged woman, adding that "the right to choose must be restored!"

One key similarity between the protests in Russia today and past civil-resistance movements is nonviolence. Despite constant provocations, harassment, and occasional beatings, the protesters have remained peaceful. The commitment to nonviolence had been apparent even before the mass demonstrations broke out. In a 2011 interview, Evgenia Chirikova, head of the Moscow environmental group EMCO and one of the most popular leaders of the movement, told me:

I think we look more like the Gandhi movement in India. . . . We lead many ordinary people who understand that, to continue the parallel, we are not worse than the British, we are not worse than our authorities, that we are not slaves and that, although the empire humiliates us we continue to resist and do not respond with violence. . . . We consciously avoid violence, never resort [to] violent means in our struggle [because] when you don't respond to violence with violence you avoid multiplying evil. [3]

Another critical similarity between today's Russian protesters and earlier civil-rights movements is their strong moral foundation, rooted in the quest for dignity in democratic citizenship. Gandhi called his movement satyagraha—"truth force" or "soul force." When I asked Lev Gudkov, president of the Levada Center and Russia's leading independent pollster, what struck him most about the protest movement, he cited the movement's "moral character," which he found "starkly undeniable and remarkable" after so many years of political apathy. "I have not seen anything like it in the past twenty years," he added.

Like most other civil-rights movements, this one rejects the "system" less because of specific political or economic grievances than because its members find that system offensive and beneath them as people and as citizens. One Russian expert summarized this sensibility as the rejection of "total corruption, lies, and violence" because they were "incompatible with decent life."[4] According to another Russian observer, the people were demonstrating for "human dignity, the right to choose their own fate and to live in a lawful state." [5]

The protesters constantly used words like honor, decency, dignity, and conscience. "We don't want revolutions," said one prodemocracy activist at a 4 February 2012 rally in the Siberian city of Omsk. "Respect us! [We] are free people in an unfree country," read a poster in Moscow. As one demonstrator put it, "We simply want to be able to live and work honestly, but this [system] does not give us that right." Similarly, a middle-aged female demonstrator in Novosibirsk told a reporter that she was there "because in my country, my government ignores my interests and humiliates me."[6]

The protest slogans reflected this moral sensibility: "Don't lie to us!"[7] "Don't steal from us!"[8] "Listen to us!"[9] "We are not cattle!" "We are not a faceless crowd!" "We are the people!" I am here because of "self-respect," said a participant in a protest rally after Putin's reelection in March 2012. "Instead of ideological dogmas, follow moral norms, believe in common sense and in the individual," said Alexei Navalny, the popular anticorruption blogger who was one of the Moscow protest leaders. The rally, he contended, was not "so much about 'politics'" as it was about the "very simple idea of the struggle for one's rights, for one's voice, for one's choice." According to one Russian commentator, the crucial part of the movement's credo was not "economic [or] social, and even less so political," but rather the "ethical imperative of 'living in truth.'"[10] This echoes earlier nonviolent movements in the region. Indeed, the title of Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn's 1974 samizdat essay "Not to Live a Lie" later served as the motto of the Polish and Czech anticommunist reform movements.

Toward a Freer Tomorrow

Similarly, today's Russian protesters are seeking to effect vast political and social change through a personal and deeply moral effort. Nowhere is this intense moral commitment more evident than in the quest for a better future for their children, which became a leitmotif of the movement. Worried that his baby daughter would grow up to ask what he was doing "when they decided we would live in a state like Syria instead of Europe," a 27-year-old lawyer who joined the December 2011 Moscow protests said, "I don't want to tell her I was too busy to do anything about it."[11] According to Chirikova, although people of all ages turned out for the demonstrations, "parents with small children were there in greatest numbers. That is indicative of something. We are anxious about the future, not even for ourselves, but for . . . our children. They deserve to live in a better Russia." A 34-year-old advertising agent from Moscow traveled to Yaroslavl to volunteer for an independent candidate's campaign so that she would be able to tell his children that he "took action" during the Putin regime and "achieved results." [12]

Given the similarities between earlier civil-rights movements elsewhere in the world and the current Russian civil-resistance movement, what does history tell us about its prospects? Precedent is no guarantee, but the Kremlin should be worried. The record is fairly unambiguous: When led by the middle class (or its children, the students) such movements have had a high rate of success.

It was the middle class that founded the Indian National Congress, the main vehicle of the independence movement led by lawyer Mahatma Gandhi. Similarly, the first African American civil-rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909, began mainly as a middle-class organization. In 1933, only 14 percent of the Philadelphia chapter's membership held "low status jobs."[13] Two decades later, the core of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), one of the driving forces behind the civil-rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, was formed by Atlanta's large black middle class, including many graduates of elite black colleges. The SCLC's first president, Martin Luther King, Jr., was part and parcel of the black middle class. [14]

Again and again, after periods of strong economic growth, newly expanded middle classes begin to desire more than mere personal freedom and prosperity, and thus start to demand political liberty and a say in how their country is governed. This was the road to democracy that Spain, Portugal, and Greece traveled in the 1970s; that South Korea and Taiwan followed in the 1980s; and that Mexico took in the 1990s. Once the middle class sets out on this path, it almost always succeeds in changing the regime.

The Russian protesters fit this mold. Despite being stereotyped as exclusively upper-middle-class, elitist Muscovites, far removed from "real people" and their concerns—in the words of the New York Times, "debonair demonstrators in mink coat and designer jeans"—the protesters who rallied on Sakharov Avenue on 24 December 2011 were, by the traditional Russian definition (which emphasizes education and occupation over income), a solidly middle-class crowd. Among them, 70 percent had college degrees and another 13 percent had completed at least three years of college at the time. Almost half were professionals, and a quarter were either business owners or managers. But only about 5 percent were "rich," meaning able "not to refuse [themselves] anything,"[15] and only 28 percent could afford to buy a car. At the same time, a 40 percent plurality had the means to purchase "some expensive things," such as a television or refrigerator but not a car, and a fifth reported having enough only for food and clothes. The rest either had trouble affording food or had just enough money for food but not clothing.

The Demographics of the Protests

Although it was widely believed that the demonstrations all took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there were also rallies and marches in 113 cities and towns across Russia on February 4, though they were far smaller than those in the "dual capitals." Despite declining turnout since the winter of 2011–12, the protest movement can still mobilize large numbers of people. The January 2013 "March Against Scoundrels" opposing the ban on U.S. adoptions drew between ten-thousand and twenty-thousand people into the streets of Moscow, and on May 6, perhaps up to thirty-thousand demonstrators turned out to protest political prosecutions stemming from the rally that took place on Bolotnaya Square one year earlier. Just as important, the movement's potential "base" is quite formidable. At a lecture that I gave in Moscow in April 2013, Lev Gudkov said that according to the latest polls, 37 percent of Russians supported the movement's agenda. According to a leading Russian political sociologist, Boris Makarenko, Russia's "median electorate"—that is, those whose positions on most key issues tend to coincide with those of the majority—views the protesters "positively/ neutrally," and "neither supports [the protesters] nor is against them." [16]

My late friend, the great reformer and economist Yegor Gaidar, used to say that Russia lagged behind Europe by about fifty years. That seems still to be the case today. As a result of the sharp economic growth of 2000−2008, Russia's middle class developed higher expectations of state institutions and nurtured hopes for opportunities to engage with authorities at both the national and local levels. The middle class, which now enjoys a level of personal freedom and prosperity unseen in Russia in almost a century, desires a functioning, fair, and less corrupt state. As liberal Russian columnist Andrei Kolesnikov put it, "after the fridges and the television sets" came the demand for political liberties.[17]

Citing dozens of in-depth interviews, a study of the post–2008 "political values and behavior" of Russia's middle class concluded that its members are largely liberal and critical thinkers who exhibit "a certain degree of self-organization." This 2010 survey revealed a "level of civic activity" among protesters that was "relatively high" by national standards and an "attraction to democracy," which was above that of the population at large. The interviewees' "shared values and ideals" had led them to be dissatisfied with "nontransparent" government, the "erosion" of representative elections, "uncontrollable government corruption," and the cancellation of gubernatorial elections. The study found that their support for democratization stemmed from a desire to "restrain bureaucracy, corruption, and lawlessness."[18] Polling results are largely consistent with these conclusions. Seven in ten of the Sakharov Avenue protesters called themselves "democrats" or "liberals," while only 6 percent identified as "nationalpatriots." [19] Asked whom they would vote for in a free and fair election, 24 percent said the center-left prodemocracy opposition party Yabloko (the "party of the intelligentsia"), and 19 percent chose a hypothetical party led by protest leader Alexei Navalny. Slightly more than one in ten supported the Communist Party, and about the same share would have voted for the Party of People's Freedom (the "establishment" opposition). The nationalists—Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Dmitry Rogozin's Party of Russian Nationalists—were far behind with 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively. A survey of the demonstrators conducted nine months later by the Levada Center confirmed that, despite the ideological differences between liberals, leftists, and nationalists, all supported the core aims of honest elections, an independent judiciary, and a change of the political regime.[20]

Widening the chasm between the regime and the people is the generation factor. A quarter of the Sakharov Avenue demonstrators were between the ages of 18 and 24, and more than half were under 40. Having come of age after the fall of the Soviet Union, many of these protesters had traveled abroad. They were also likely to be frequent Internet users in a country with soaring Internet usage: Nearly forty-million Russians go online daily, and more than fifty million go online at least sporadically. Three-quarters of Russians between the ages of 25 and 35 use the Internet every day—twice the rate of their parents. Almost 90 percent of the December 24 demonstrators learned of the event online. [21]

These young people relate more to their contemporaries in the prosperous and democratic countries of Europe, Asia, and the Americas than to their Soviet parents and grandparents. To these post-Soviet Russians, the chaos of the 1990s is but a distant rumor, and a major key to legitimizing Putinism—"at least you are better off than you were in the Nineties"— is likely lost on most of them. In their view—judging by online posts and interviews—it is a bizarre anachronism for a great European nation to have someone in power for 24 years, which (if we include Dmitri Medvedev's 2008–12 presidency as a continuation of Putin's control over government) is how long Putin will have been in the Kremlin if he is reelected to and serves another six-year term in 2018–24. That would be six years longer than Leonid Brezhnev was in power and as long as Stalin's reign. "We want to live in a free country," said one 23-year-old demonstrator on December 24. "Our parents grew up under Brezhnev. We don't want that." [22]

Demographic trends give these attitudes considerable political heft. There are more Russians today under the age of 40 than over. Furthermore, the 20-to-30-year-old children of the Russian postwar baby boomers make up the single largest age cohort in the country—a quarter of the population—and are likely to do so for the next forty years. According to a number of political sociologists, these young people, many of whom belong to the middle class, may present new challenges to authorities, because they are more likely to demand a greater voice in political and economic policy making.

In Moscow, where billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov may have outpolled Putin in at least some downtown districts in the 4 March 2012 presidential election, candidates of the loose opposition coalition "Our City" won a third of the open seats in elections for district ("municipal") councils held the same day. With 71 out of 1,500 seats, they are but a tiny minority, but almost all the winners are under the age of 30 and they are determined to continue the fight. Their victory may yet prove to be another portent of Russia's changing political landscape.

Strategies of Resistance

How do nonviolent resistance movements manage to succeed against the power of a state that does not hesitate to use harassment, beatings, jailing, and, in some cases, firepower? The greatest weapon of successful protest movements has been their ability to undermine the legitimacy of the regimes they oppose. They do not need to persuade the majority of the people to join their cause. Revolutions (not to mention reforms or changes of regimes) are never made by majorities. Merely ensuring that the "masses" stay at home rather than coming to the defense of a regime (or institutions) under attack by a determined and morally fervent minority has proved enough. Mao was only half right: Power does come from the barrel of a gun, but only if the person holding it is willing to pull the trigger. Unless they are fanatics or sadists, which most people are not, those holding the gun generally will not fire on their compatriots if they sense that that the majority has given up on the powers that be.

Civil-rights movements erode regimes' legitimacy by relentlessly exposing their political, social, and economic flaws—but always as a means to prove their immorality. It is a moral victory that these movements ultimately seek. The more effective they are in exposing moral indignities, the more quickly they can reach their objective. Gandhi did not measure the success or failure of satyagraha in political terms: His goal was a "deeper moral one—to generate such strength and moral vision among Indians that they would withdraw their compliance with British rule." [23] Martin Luther King's key strategic victory was also a moral one: the outrage that swept the United States after the Birmingham, Alabama, police attacked peaceful demonstrators with fire hoses, water cannons, and dogs on 3 May 1963.

Despite their having vastly different daily agendas, the same moral revulsion and desire for dignity, clean government, and moral renewal motivates the leaders and activists of half a dozen grassroots organizations whom I interviewed while crisscrossing Russia from east to west— from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad—in the summer of 2011. Emblematic of this was the fight against the proposed skyscraper headquarters of energy giant Gazprom on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. "They build what they want, however they want, and wherever they want," according to a leaflet published by Bashne.net! ("No to the Tower!"), an urbanpreservation movement that successfully fought the construction of the massive tower. "They deface Petersburg and violate laws. They think that money and power give them the right to do all this." Explaining why people protested against the Tower, the group's leader, Natalia Vvedenskaya, said that the construction was a "visualization of violence":

We have corruption, of course . . . but it is not always easy to see how people are daily humiliated and to become outraged. But here, people had something onto which they could concentrate all their hatred [of the system]. And all the more so because [the culprit was] the very same company that is turning the country into a senseless oil-producing appendage [of the world economy]. And this . . . truly was a stronger motivation than the struggle for the purity of the skyline. . . . Because you [the state], without asking our opinion, tell us that your model of life, which you are foisting on the country, is the only correct one. [24]

The Russian civil-rights movement has zeroed in on two widely despised aspects of the regime: corruption (and the inequality before the law that corruption both exemplifies and engenders) and electoral fraud. According to a Levada Center poll, in April 2012, 64 percent of Russians thought that they might at some point become victims of arbitrary arrest or other "lawless actions" by the police or state prosecutors (prokuratura), and 55 percent believed that they could not rely on the courts to protect them from abuse. [25] Overall, while 71 percent felt that an impartial judiciary was "very important," only 17 percent believed that their country had such a legal system. [26]

Notably, the country's rising standard of living seems to have exposed still more Russians to abuse by the authorities. For example, twenty years ago only 6 percent of the people had experienced rudeness, corruption, and extortion at the hands of traffic police. Today, a quarter of the population drives, and thus a greater number of people suffer such abuse. According to Mikhail Dmitriev, president of the Institute for Strategic Research (which alone among the establishment think tanks predicted public protests after the State Duma election), people's interaction with "other state institutions" has similarly increased—and so has their dissatisfaction.

The Russian protesters' other main theme, electoral fraud, has been even more potent in igniting civil resistance. Indeed, like many rights movements that came before, Russia's was born in response to the blatant falsification of the results for the 2011 Duma elections. Up to a hundred-thousand took to the streets in Moscow to protest, and tens of thousands turned out across the country. According to polls, millions more believed that the balloting had been rigged: Almost 4 in 10 respondents in a March 2012 national survey agreed with the protesters' claim that the 2011 Duma election was either "likely" (27 percent) or "definitely" (10 percent) dishonest. Roughly the same share, 35 percent, expected the upcoming presidential election to be "dirty" ( gryaznye). [27]

It was this sentiment that propelled 28,000 volunteers throughout Russia to observe the March 2012 presidential polls—an unprecedented upsurge in grassroots civic activism in Putin's Russia that was all the more remarkable because the election result was widely believed to be predetermined. [28] Explaining her motivation for volunteering as an observer, a 31-year-old "aspiring filmmaker" from Moscow said: "It's not that I want to go out and topple anything. But the only way to understand at least approximately what is happening is to go and participate."

History cautions against taking lightly the cause of these hundreds of thousands of young activists and demonstrators who are mobilizing around elections. Since the end of the Cold War, stolen elections more than anything else have been the seed of successful civil resistance and regime change. Some movements start and succeed very soon after the offending elections: as with Ukraine's Orange Revolution and Georgia's Rose Revolution. In other cases, the outrage over de facto disenfranchisement may take months, years, or even decades to crystallize into mass protests. But the offense is rarely forgotten. For example, the falsification of local-election results in 1996 spawned the movement that eventually toppled Serbian autocrat Slobodan Miloševiæ four years later. In the Philippines, President Ferdinand Marcos had been alternately canceling or manipulating presidential and parliamentary elections for fourteen years before the massive civil-disobedience movement known as People's Power forced him into exile in 1986.

Prospects for Success

Of course, a historical record of fairly good chances for an eventual victory does not warrant the expectation of a steady march from triumph to triumph. Indeed, the only certainty in civil resistance seems to be uncertainty, unpredictability, and reversals of fortune. The U.S. civil-rights movement languished in the political wilderness in the years between the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott and the 1960 Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, which reenergized the movement and eventually led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act a year later. "Human beings with all their faults and strengths constitute the mechanism of a social movement," wrote Martin Luther King Jr. "They must make mistakes and learn from them, make more mistakes and learn anew. They must taste defeat as well as success, and discover how to live with each. Time and action are the teachers." [29]

As is always the case for governments confronted by civil-rights movements, there is good and bad news for the Kremlin. The good news is that civil-rights groups are notoriously disorganized and slow to crystallize politically and to form a leadership structure. Such movements are mistrustful of politics and reluctant to join or even support political parties. The bad news—perhaps very bad—for the regime is that a combination of organizational inchoateness and moral intensity makes the current Russian movement hard to subvert. The absence of formal and permanent leadership structures impedes the effectiveness of harassment or cooptation. "No leader and no headquarters" is the advantage, according to Alexei Navalny, because it is hard to "scare, arrest, or bribe" thousands of people as opposed to an individual leader. In the words of columnist Andrei Kolesnikov, "It is difficult to oppose an educated class which demands from the regime not just political reform but, first and foremost, virtue and honesty."

The response of regimes to such movements is a crucial variable and differs widely from case to case. While encountering a fierce and often brutal resistance locally, the civil-rights efforts in India and the United States profited greatly from the general support of elite national media and institutions, including the Church of England, the U.S. Supreme Court, and U.S. federal authorities. Similarly, at the early stages of the glasnost revolution in the Soviet Union, the Gorbachev leadership was strongly supportive of movements for human and political rights.

Alas, the Russian movement can hardly count on any support from the Putin regime. Within months of returning to the presidency in May 2012, Vladimir Putin had the Duma rubber-stamp several laws that further limited freedom of speech and assembly by criminalizing participation in "unlawful" gatherings, meting out fines and jail terms for "libel," and by labeling as "foreign agents" human-rights organizations that, in the absence of domestic funding from thoroughly cowed Russian enterprises, accept foreign money.

Putin's strategy is similar to that of Marcos and Miloševiæ: pro forma elections that are manipulated and whose results are falsified; government control over key media outlets (television, above all) in order to keep the electorate uninformed; and the constricting or outright blocking of campaign venues for the opposition at the local and national levels. Putin's variation of the repression regimen is what might be called the suffocation- with-a-soft-pillow approach: selective but constant harassment of opposition leaders and activists; the "investigation" of these figures' private affairs, often resulting in administrative and criminal charges that lead to fines or short-term detentions and, in some rare cases, lengthy prison terms for their spouses; and the persecution of symbolic targets such as the punk rockers of Pussy Riot. Putin has recently upped the ante by moving against the country's two most popular opposition leaders: Alexei Navalny is on trial for alleged large-scale embezzlement, and Sergei Udaltsov has been charged under Article 212 of the Criminal Code with plotting "mass disorder" and instigating riots. The charges against both men carry a maximum sentence of ten years. Worse still, last October one of Udaltsov's close associates was kidnapped in Kyiv, Ukraine, by the Russian secret service, brought to Moscow, and tortured into a confession in support of the charges against Udaltsov. In the absence of meaningful protest from the West, the Kremlin placed Udaltsov under house arrest in the second week of February. Proceeding deliberately and cautiously against Navalny and Udaltsov, the authorities will continue to test the water, calibrating further action according to the domestic and international response. As there was little of the former (thus far, Navalny's trial has spawned only sporadic and sparsely attended protests) and almost none of the latter, convictions and lengthy sentences after blatantly rigged trials are the likely outcomes for both men.

Historically, a regime's response to civic activism can indeed prolong or shorten a struggle, but rarely does it manage to stamp resistance out entirely. In The Old Regime and the French Revolution, Alexis de Tocqueville compared the enduring political and social institutions of a society to rivers that flow underground only to remerge later at a different place. This is a perfect metaphor for civil-resistance movements. If the offenses to dignity that have sparked the protests continue unabated and (to quote Tocqueville) "exacerbate the sensibility" of a significant segment of a country's middle class, resistance movements are likely to reemerge—even those that have suffered seemingly fatal defeats, like the student activists in China's Tiananmen Square in 1989 or the 2009 postelection Green Movement of Iran.

In yet another parallel with past civil-resistance movements, the Russian protestors have set no deadlines. They are ready for "a long, hard struggle," a political "marathon,"[30] as opposition leader Boris Nemtsov put it. If this unyielding determination continues to inform and inspire a politically active segment of the Russian middle class, we may yet see the resumption of immensely benign trends that began in 1987. A Russia that is free, prosperous, and democratic, and is at peace, at long last, with its own people, its neighbors, and the world, may again be within the grasp of the Russian people.

NOTES

1. Vadim Lurie, ed., Azbuka protesta. Narodnyj plakat po materialam 15 mitingov i aktsiy v Moskve I Sankt-Peterburge, 10.12.2011-01.4.2012 [The ABCs of protest: People's posters from 15 rallies and actions in Moscow and St. Petersburg, 12/10/2011–4/1/2012].

I am grateful to Professor Harley Balzer for his presentation of this photo record of the protests. All unattributed quotes in this essay come from personal interviews with leaders and activists of six grassroots movements and organizations that I conducted in 2011.

2. Ekaterina Kuzmina, "Aktsiya 'Za chestnye vybory' v Novosibirske—opros mitinguyushchikh" [A rally "for honest elections" in Novosibirsk: A survey of the participants], www.epochtimes.ru/content/view/57851/54.

3. In Leon Aron, A Quest for Democratic Citizenship: Agendas, Practices, and Ideals of Six Russian Grass-Roots Organizations and Movements (Washington, D.C.: AEI, 2012), www.aei.org/files/2012/09/11/-a-quest-for-democratic-citizenship-agendas-practicesand- ideals-of-six-russian-grassroots-organizations-and-movements_103627870184.pdf.

4. Will Englund, "Vladimir Putin Says He's Russia's Indispensable Man," Washington Post, 16 January 2012, available at http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-01-16/ world/35440310_1_election-of-regional-governors-mikhail-delyagin-russian-economy.

5. Alexei Zubov, "Net povoda dlya ogorcheniy" [No need to be upset], Vedomosti, 5 March 2012.

6. Ekaterina Kuzmina, "Aktsiya 'Za chestnye vybory' v Novosibirske—opros mitinguyushchikh" [A rally 'For honest elections' in Novosibirsk: a survey of the participants], www.epochtimes.ru/content/view/57851/54.

7. See, for example, an interview with Olga Vishnevskaya in Kuzmina, "Aktsiya 'Za chestnye vybory' v Novosibirske."

8. See for example, Navalny in Akunin, "Razgovor."

9. See, for example, Richard Bourdreaux and Alexander Kolyandr, "Anti-Putin Protests Ring Moscow," Wall Street Journal, 27 February 2012; and Tom Parfitt, "Anti-Putin Protesters March Through Moscow," Guardian, 4 February 2012.

10. Boris Akunin, "Razgovor s politikom" [Conversation with a politician], a dialogue between Akunin and Alexei Navalny, http://borisakunin.livejournal.com/49763.html; "Protestny dekabr 2011: chem eto zakonchitsya?" [The December 2011 protest: How will this end?], Evgenia Albats' interview with Alexei Navalny on the "Polny Albats" show, Ekho Moskvy, 26 December 2011, http://echo.msk.ru/programs/albac/842708- echo/#element-text; and Vladimir Pastukhov, "Dolzhno priyti pokolenie, sposobnoe goodat za ideyu, a ne vypivat za neyo" [A generation must emerge that would be capable of fasting for an idea, not just drinking for it], Novaya gazeta, 21 March 2012. www.novayagazeta. ru/politics/51725.html.

11. Will Englund and Kathy Lally, "Thousands of Protesters in Russia Demand Fair Elections," Washington Post, 10 December 2011.

12. Michael Schwirtz, "Mayoral Votes Give Russia Opposition a Boost," New York Times, 3 April 2012.

13. H. Viscount Nelson, "The Philadelphia NAACP: Race Versus Class Consciousness During the Thirties," Journal of Black Studies 5 (March 1975): 255–76.

14. Elizabeth B. Cooksey, "Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)," The New Georgia Encyclopedia, available at www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/ArticlePrintable. jsp?id=h-2743.

15. See Levada Center's December 24 Sakharov Avenue poll. For a good summary, see Maxim Glinkin,"Na prospect Sakharova vyshly 30-letnie spetsialisty" [30-year-old professionals turn out on Sakharov Avenue], Vedomosti, 26 December 2012.

16. In Svetlana Babaeva, "Zapolzti na piramidu" [To crawl up the pyramid], Moskovskie novosti, 18 March 2013.

17. Andrei Kolesnikov, "Evolutsiya bobrovykh shub" [An evolution of the beaver fur coats], Gazeta.ru, 24 January 2012.

18. L.M. Grigoriev et al., Sredniy klass posle krizisa: ekspress-analiz vzglyadov na politiku i ekonomiku [The middle class after the crisis: An express analysis of its opinions on politics and the economy], Executive Summary, 134–41.

19. Levada Center, December 24 Sakharov Avenue poll.

20. See Levada Center, "Protest Changing Ideological Character," 18 September 2012, www.levada.ru/18-09-2012/protest-menyaet-ideologicheskuyu-okrasku.

21. Will Englund, "In Russia, Internet Getting Word Out on Big Election Protest," Washington Post, 10 December 2011.

22. Michael Birnbaum, "Protesters Flood Moscow Demanding Reforms," Washington Post, 25 December 2011.

23. Judith M. Brown, "Gandhi and Civil Resistance in India, 1917–47," in Sir Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-Violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (New York: Oxford, 2009), 56.

24. Aron, A Quest for Democratic Citizenship.

25. See www.levada.ru/04-05-2012/rossiyane-o-politsii; Masha Lipman, "Putin's Weakening Grip," Washington Post, 10 May 2012.

26. Will Englund, "In Russia Poll, Contradictions and 'Democracy Gap,'" Washington Post, 23 May 2012.

27. See www.levada.ru/print/06-03-2012/vybor-2012-v-otsenkakh-ro; "Levada-Center: March 4, Putin Gaining 63–66 percent," Vedomosti, 24 February 2012, www.vedomosti. ru/politics/news/1513221/levadacentr_daet_putinu_ot_63_do_66.

28. Yulia Latynina, "The Birth of Civil Society," Moscow Times, 13 March 2012, and Ellen Barry and Sophia Kishkovsky, "Russian Turnout Includes Thousands of Eager Observers," New York Times, 5 March 2012.

29. Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can't Wait (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), 34–35.

30. Boris Nemtsov, "Massive Success," blog entry, 5 February 2012, http://b-nemtsov. livejournal.com/140977.html.

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