Published On: Fri, Nov 8th, 2019

Fresh Protests in Russia

A wave of new protests has spread across Russia, with thousands demonstrating in Moscow. The latest round of protests has grown on the back of the previous demonstrations, and the ever-growing numbers of protestors are a clear sign that the traditional Russian methods for controlling dissent may no longer be as effective as they once were. In the first six months of 2019, there were just under 900 national protests across the whole country. This new wave of protests is due to a variety of factors, but the leading cause of dissatisfaction remains the exclusion of opposition figures in the 2019 local Russian elections. 

photo/ donkeyhotey

Election Meddling

Protests in Russia have normally been controlled by a strict regime of arrests, the threat of long prison sentences, and increasing pressure on high-profile activists. However, these tactics seem to be having less effect. While election meddling has been the main source of dissatisfaction for Russians, it isn’t just the political issues of today that are causing the Russian population to rise up in anger. The latest wave of protests has been added to by those that are worried about the new internet laws that have just been announced by the Russian government. 

The Russian-Only Internet

Russia has taken the first clear steps to create a version of the internet that it controls. This digital version of an Iron Curtain has been heavily criticized by civil rights advocates. As the new communications laws go into effect, Russia has effectively created a national internet that it can control. By being independent of the rest of the global internet, this has lead to the fear that Russian citizens will be unable to get access to politically sensitive content or impartial news sources. This widespread censorship tactic is being promoted under the guise of protecting the country from digital attacks. However, as the protests show, the citizens of Russian are not happy with this latest attempt at control.

Russia and the Middle East

As the US continues its steady withdrawal from critical parts of the Middle East, Russia has stepped in to fill the power vacuum. While many are lauding the initiatives taken by Putin to secure trade deals and peace, many are worried that this is leading to an increasing power-base for Russia. According to russianforeignpolicies, Russia’s growing involvement and establishment of power in the Middle East trouble-spots could be an issue that will only ferment the growing tensions between the big players on the world stage. Even as protesters fight for their rights in the streets of Russia, Putin continues to dominate from a political standpoint.

Hashtags and Messaging Apps

Just like the protests in Hong Kong and Chile, the people taking part in the Russian dissent are generally the young. Music has become a rallying point for the student activists, and like their Chilean and Hong Kong counterparts, they are using messaging technology and internet trends to spread the word and to organize their protest tactics and share information. With arrests already taking place, protesters are calling for reforms even as they are being locked up. Two students in Rostov-on-Don were sentenced to just over six years in prison for holding up signs demanding Putin’s resignation, a step that Amnesty International condemned, calling the protestors prisoners of conscience.

Author: Carol Trehearn

Vladimir Putin photo Presidential Press and Information Office www.kremlin.ru. via wikimedia commons

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