The kaleidoscope of Russian opposition protesters

9th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's opposition, which has found a new voice in protests against Sunday's election results, is a motley mix of political and social movements from outside the political system installed by Vladimir Putin.

Human rights groups and grassroots citizen movements

- Human rights activists: members of organisations like Memorial, which specialises in campaigning against abuses in the Russian Caucasus and repressions in the Soviet era, and Helsinki Group, led by veteran dissident Lyudmila Alekseyeva.

- "Blue buckets": A motorist group that denounces flashing blue lights used by government officials to flout traffic laws and frequently cause accidents, while others spend hours in gridlock.

- Deceived shareholders: homebuyers who invested their savings into housing construction projects during the building boom of the mid-2000s only to see developers go bankrupt and fail to deliver their side of the bargain.

- Anti-corruption activists: Minority shareholders in state-owned companies and others mobilising over the Internet to expose corrupt government tenders, inspired by blogger Alexei Navalny, who was jailed for 15 days after Monday's election protest.

- "Defenders of Khimki forest": A grassroots movement mobilised around local resident Yevgenia Chirikova against a proposed plan to build a highway through the Khimki forest in the Moscow region.

Extreme left

- "The Other Russia": a non-registered party led by controversial writer Eduard Limonov. A successor to his banned National-Bolshevik party, which fused ideas of the extreme right with communist ideals.

- "Left Front": a radical movement consisting of mostly youths that seeks to build socialism in Russia. Its activists are frequent participants in unsanctioned protests and are often jailed.


Russia's liberal groups frequently quarrel and merge, lately forming two new organisations. One is the Solidarity movement formed in 2007. The other is Parnas, a party which the authorities refused to register for the parliamentary poll.

The country's most famous liberal opposition politicians are former government officials Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov, as well as former chess champion Garry Kasparov.

© 2011 AFP

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