|All Sources > The Current Digest of the Russian Press (DA-CDRP) > The Current Digest of the Russian Press > 2011 > No. 49, Vol. 63|
Elections a Wake-Up Call for United Russia?
ALBATS: IN AN AGE OF RAPID-FIRE, INTERNET-BASED MASS COMMUNICATION, RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES STILL RELY ON SOVIET-ERA MODELS FOR RESPONDING TO UNREST; REGIME MUST REACT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
FEAR. (By Yevgenia Albats. The New Times, Dec. 5, 2011, p. 8. Complete text:) "Jeez, they're scared!" Those were the kind of text messages that started coming in as soon as it became clear that hackers had methodically crashed all of the liberal Web sites. LiveJournal, too, was crashing from time to time.
By "they," people meant the regime. Facebook and Twitter, which our Chekists [state security agents] and their colleagues in the Internal Affairs Ministry cannot shut down yet, were teeming with indignation. Reports and videos of election fraud kept coming in: A cell-phone video from Yekaterinburg showed three teachers marking stacks of ballots; a video from Moscow described how students were paid for "carousels" [i.e., multiple voting - Trans.]; footage from Barnaul showed monitors from Golos [election monitoring organization] being blocked, and so on and so forth. At the same time, government-controlled television channels kept showing a parallel universe where people diligently voted and local law enforcers reported that there were no violations.
Why did the regime become so brazen for the first time in Russia's 20-year post-Soviet history? The answer is fear.
It is the same fear that always tormented the Soviet authorities: God forbid that protests in one city should spark similar protests around the country. In 1962, during the famous uprising in Novocherkassk where troops opened fire on protesting workers, the rest of the country knew nothing about it. Thus, people in Novocherkassk realized that they were on their own, that nobody would support them and that their protest would be crushed. And it was.
Today, the regime is using the exact same model. The last few weeks before the election have demonstrated that the grassroots civil protest is gaining momentum, ...