Some vivid, up-close photos from the anti-fascist march yesterday in Moscow, here: The march was organized in commemoration of the human-rights attorney Stanislav Markelov and the young journalist Anastasiya Baburina, shot to death point-blank one year ago to the day, by the neo-Nazi youths, right in the heart of downtown Moscow.

One is struck, when looking at the photos, by how much more serious, tightly focussed, and just downright angry the participants look compared with those in the analogous events even a couple of years ago. It’s all serious now: there’s a clear sense of unyielding opposition on both sides. All the pretense of equanimity, as well as claims of its legitimacy, have been cast aside by the regime. The rulers have made it clear they intend to claw to power tooth and nail, for as long as they can. They’ve got nowhere to go, no place to hide, so they have to try to stick it out until the end: there’ve been too many red lines crossed on their part, too many agreements violated and promises broken, too many freedoms curtailed and taken away altogether, too much other people’s wealth “redistributed” in their favor, too much oil and gas revenue stolen, too much blood on their hands, too many unanswered questions just wating to be asked; too much hope for the country’s future thwarted, too many lives ruined; altogether too much of a baggage for a mere mortal to cope with on his own, without the protective armor of state’s repressive might. It’s all serious now, and they know it. The country’s economy is stagnating, infra-structure falling apart, workers’ wages frozen, unemployment growing, the toxic bubble of ur-patriotism and imperial hubris punctured and deflated. What’s the country’s single unifying, animating idea now? Why, for what purpose do 99% people in Russia have to keep on living infinitely worse than citizens of other countries, near and far, while the rulers themselves and their sundry court Abramoviches amass unimaginable welath? The country, after a decade of soporific cud-chewing, have begun to stir anxiously; it’s awakening. No more condescenscion towards the marginalized opposition, then; no more contemptous scowls on the mugs of the regime’s goons from the OMON (special purpose militia detachments). Stakes have been raised, and now they’re really high. The opposition, too, has been emboldened. They know the regime’s been weakened, that it’s reeling; that it’s a cornered rat of a vicious, vengeful regime. There’s pure, undiluted hatred bubbling up at random to the surface of public life in Russia these days. (One of the posters captured by the camera: “Putin, Get Lost.” Just like that: angrily and contemptuously, the way one kicks out of the house the stinking stray mutt that somehow has made it inside.) It’s all serious now. No more inspired chanting. No more elation. No more bright-eyed hope. No more of any of that. No more idealistic dreams. Enough. The country’s been through a lot, and it has seen itself in a new and unlovely light. It’s  seen its worst enemy: itself. 

Tough stuff.


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