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Anti-government protests under the pretext of the detention of the notorious Russian opposition leader Navalny took place in various cities across the country.
They were characterized by underwhelming attendance, claims of grandeur and awkward attempts at spreading violence. Protests were immediately endorsed by the Washington establishment. Notably, the United States Embassy in Moscow published detailed times and locations of unsanctioned rallies. Some Western leaders have made direct calls for an escalation of violence.
The entire situation resembled a staged performance that took place just days after the US President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The Russian scare narrative has already been pushed by the US Democrats and the US MSM for a long time. It is expected that the new Administration policy regarding Moscow will become even more hawkish. The detention of Alexey Navalny will be simply used as a justification for further aggressive actions against Russia. It fits perfectly with the Washington concept of cultivating an image of an unpredictable and irreconcilable foreign enemy to American values and democracy in general.
It is quite evident that Alexey Navalny, his sponsors, teammates and supporters were fully aware that he would get arrested when he returned to Russia. This could have been entirely avoided if he simply returned a bit earlier. He would thus meet the terms of his suspended sentence over the corruption and bribery in Russia. But then there would be no reason to protest.
Navalny even published a dramatic address saying that he had no desire to kill himself, to avoid any potential scenarios and being used as a sacrifice for the greater neo-liberal good.
As the hubs of the neo-liberal agenda in Russia, Moscow and Saint Petersburg hosted the largest protests. Protests in other regions were much smaller. However, there were even those protesting in extreme temperatures, showing that there is a motivated and unrelenting core.
The protest attendance, against the entire population of the cities, however, pales and shows an unimpressive turnout.
Reports of attendance vary, with some claiming at least 40,000 gathered in Moscow, with the authorities putting the number at merely 4,000. Others claimed that the numbers somewhere in the middle.
In Saint Petersburg, Kommersant reported that there was an attendance of about 5,000.
Other cities with a significant protest presence include Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Nizhny Novgorod.
The Russian branch of the BBC said that protests took place in 122 towns and cities across the country.
It appears that there was little friction among the general population. A notable part of protesters were likely paid. The core consisted of various unemployed idlers, young city hipsters, liberals and different minorities. A significant presence was seen from youths and minors, who were subjected to a large-scale social media campaign.
Many videos were released claiming police violence. Every video showed the same situation – an individual rushing towards police and attempting to assault the officers, and then getting detained in return.
There were no casualties, however, not from the side of the authorities, nor from the protesters. Evident attempts at causing casualties, by involving minors and youths, were obviously made, but they failed.
Fake news also became the integral part of this anti-government campaign. They were mostly dedicated to alleged killings and incredible numbers of arrests by the authorities. These messages were actively endorsed by mainstream social media, including the Chinese-operated TikTok. While Washington, which prefers to see the Russian statehood destroyed, Beijing is also not averse to use the situation for getting additional leverage on the Kremlin to strengthen its own position in joint projects. As a result, the narrative is being constructed as a “political persecution”.
The side shouting “witch hunt” the most, is the United States, whose administration referred to half of its population of Trump supporters as “domestic terrorists”, and “fascists” for not supporting the establishment of the neo-liberal agenda.
Despite the lack of success in the protests, this was simply a dress rehearsal. It is used to pave the way for a large-scale campaign to undermine Russia’s stability and compromise its statehood.
It seems that the ramping up of the destabilization attempts is scheduled for September 2021, – the period of the Russian general election that will include the next legislative election and the election of 11 governors. The liberal opposition has already proven that it is ready to even sacrifice children in order to achieve the ambitions of its sponsors. If the Russian government does not employ preventive measures, these people will easily find large support from Russia’s geopolitical opponents. Next time staged anti-government protests can ‘accidentally coincide’ with industrial disasters, cyberattacks, and even terrorist attacks.