Now that the dust has settled from today's "nationwide" protests, we can safely say that Navalny accomplished only one thing: He showed how popular Putin truly is
A transparent publicity stunt carried out by a xenophobic felon has somehow failed to overthrow one of the world's most popular leaders.
"I'm happy that so many people came out (onto the streets) from the east (of the country) to Moscow," Alexei Navalny said to a not-very-large crowd on Sunday morning, moments before he was arrested — which is exactly what he wanted.
Navalny, a xenophobic weirdo who enjoys widespread praise and admiration from the west, held an illegal rally in the center of Moscow on Sunday. It would have received the blessings of city officials if Navalny had agreed to a less invasive venue. Instead he chose Tverskaya, which is basically Moscow's Main Street. His reason for doing this was simple: He was hoping to rile up the busy center of Moscow — and also get himself arrested. The perfect photo op.
Even among "responsible" Russia watchers, the protests have been described as a flop attended by bored teenagers:
By the way, in terms of "geography", we're talking about places like Novosibirsk, Barnaul, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk. And by all accounts, the turnout was extremely low.
Even in St. Petersburg, the current estimate is around 6,000 (probably much, much less. This tweet below points out that the claim from Navalny's people that 10k showed up is absurd; the photo on the left is the Navalny rally, the photo on the right is a different rally with a total of 6k):
In Moscow the crowd appeared larger than what we saw coming from St. Petersburg, but again: Navalny held the rally in the very center of Moscow. And there were plently of people on Tverskaya on Sunday morning who wanted nothing to do with Navalny.
The Moscow region has about 17 millions inhabitants. Not even the most generous estimates put the demonstration in Moscow at 20,000. And that would include curious shoppers.
Across the country, Russians were encouraged to rise up against "thug Putin" — and an insignificant fraction of a fraction turned out. And many of them were barely old enough to vote.
Navalny had to conjure up a scary story about Medvedev's shoe collection to justify the demonstration. Putin is too popular to even touch — as John Helmer pointed out recently.
It wasn't a total loss for Navalny, though. He got some good Facebook photos and probably a NGO grant out of today's festivities.
But in the larger picture, he just confirmed that the vast, overwhelming majority of Russians back Putin.
(We don't think Luhn should have been arrested, by the way. But if the cops really said this, it perfectly sums up the Russian attitude towards this cheap publicity stunt.)
Putin is still here, and as strong as ever. Woe is the West.
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