Russian opposition running on empty?

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Russian opposition running on empty?

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A year on from the big anti-Putin demonstrations in Russia that heralded the rebirth of civil society, and seemed to indicate that the Russian people had tired of authoritarianism and what they believed were rigged parliamentary elections, and much of the movement’s impetus has died.

Although some 2000 people showed up in Moscow’s Lubyanka square for an unauthorised march, that was well short of the numbers that mobilised a year ago.

Some 40 arrests were made, including opposition leaders Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak and Sergei Udaltsov.

“For me as a free citizen, today is the day of freedom. Russia should be free despite all the bans, despite all the law violations, despite all the repression,” said Udaltsov.

At least Udaltsov was able to make a statement before being dragged away by police. Yashin and Sobchak never even made it to the square, being detained while making their way there.

Many marchers were able to lay flowers at their chosen meeting point; the memorial to all of the political prisoners of the former Soviet Union.

Many were also able to make some vocal points, chanting “Shame”, “Free political prisoners”, “Down with the police state”, or “Crooks and thieves”, the latter a now-familiar popular euphemism in Russia for the leadership.