Check out how the BBC reported about the (illegal) demonstration which the so-called "non-system opposition" (aka "those who could not even get a single deputy elected into the Duma") organized today:
Impressive crowd, no? In the "hundreds" according to the article. And just to make sure that anybody doubting the size of this demonstration would not think that it lacked popular support, the reporter added that these demonstrators were "braving freezing temperatures". And just to add some extra weight to it all, we are informed that this rally was one of "several" and "nationwide" which took place. It would be legitimate to assume that, say, at least 10-15 major Russian cities saw demonstrations. Finally, we are told that the police "broke up" the demonstration and that "opposition leaders" were arrested.
Clearly, Putin is mercilessly crushing the legitimate aspirations to democracy and freedom of the Russian people and his goon cops are on a repressive rampage. Is the revolution is scheduled for tomorrow morning?
First, take a look at the Moscow demonstration on a photo taken from above the square:
|(click for full size)|
Furthermore, the folks represented here were not, repeat *NOT*, the "opposition". The "opposition" in Russia is composed of three parties: the Communists, the LDPR and the Just Russia parties. These parties made it into the Duma and are the real opposition. What we saw on the streets are folks representing something in the range of one, maybe two, percent of the population. Mostly, they represent themselves and their Anglosaxon sponsors and bosses.
As for the rally being banned, you can see for yourself that it is smack in the middle of a square with traffic on all sides, and this is why the Moscow authorities tried for weeks to convince the organizers that this was a bad place and that traffic would be disrupted and the demonstrators endangered. The organizers of the rally replied that this was the Lubianka square, where the KGB headquarters had been in the Soviet times and were the current FSB has its official headquarters; furthermore, there is a monument to the victims of Soviet repressions there. The city authorities *did* authorize the demonstrators to place flowers at the monument, but asked them to then keep on walking in order to avoid creating a traffic jam.
Some demonstrators complied and freely left, some refused and were detained long enough to remove them from the square.
And that is all the "repression" which took place.
Makes me wonder what the folks at the BBC are smoking...