The Financial Times had a good article today about the opposition movement in Russia. The profile was written ahead of Sunday’s scheduled ‘anti-crisis’ protest, which activists admit will be lucky to see 20,000 attendees (in a city of ~12 million).
The group is fighting multiple problems, one of which is a misinformed population who still get their news from television, which is largely dominated by state-run propaganda.
Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov noted:
“They [people I talked to] believed that the embargo on imported foods is America’s fault, and they were surprised when I told them no, that was not Obama, it was Putin,” he says. “This is what we need to make people aware of: the crisis, that’s Putin.”
And his compatriot, Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov commented:
“If, roughly speaking, 60 per cent of the population supports Putin, only 5 per cent are active supporters. The other 55 per cent are zombified TV watchers who will never decide any sort of politics,” he argues. “You show them a different picture [on the TV] tomorrow, and they’ll think differently.”
The general feeling among the group is not one of despair per se, but they seem to feel that the wait may be a long one.
Nemtsov appears to think Putin could win the election in 2018, and see out his fourth term, ending in 2024.
And in London, Mikhail Khodorkovsky agreed that we may not be near the end of Putin:
That being said, the situation could change very rapidly. A targeted television and radio campaign could change the facts on the ground in less than a week. However, as long as the state has a monopoly on information, the wait could be as long as Nemtsov’s dire prediction of 2024.
P.S. Khodorkovsky gave a speech at Chatham in London last night. You can find the link to it here.