No program – no protest? ‘Fair elections drive may disappear in weeks’
Leaders of Saturday’s rally expected at least 50,000 people to attend. But according to official estimates only 10,000 people turned up to protest against the parliamentary and presidential elections results. The demo even wrapped up an hour earlier than planned.“People cannot demonstrate for nothing,” writer Aleksandr Latsa told RT after the rally. The winter demonstrations attracted tens of thousands of people across the country but brought only minor concessions from the rulers, who promised to facilitate registration for new political parties and to investigate election violation claims. But there was no talk of annulling the results of the parliamentary poll or postponing the presidential elections. Not quite satisfied with the response from the country’s rulers, the protesters were also baffled to find themselves being taken in a different direction by rally leaders.“People wanted fair elections, but then the protests became anti-Putin. This is not a political line. Being anti-Putin does not mean anything if you cannot agree on a political program,” says Latsa.“I think the movement is going to disappear in several weeks,” he added.Saturday brought little progress for the initiative “For Fair Elections." Slogans slamming the alleged election violations as well as the regime remained mostly unchanged as did demands for snap presidential and parliamentary polls. “Non-systemic opposition leaders need to form a program, just like presidential candidates. They need to offer a program rather than a collection of slogans,” said political analyst Aleksandr Selivanov.But the various political forces behind the rally still fail to agree on a common strategy. On Saturday, leftists again urged sit-in protests and acts of civil disobedience, while liberals insisted on peaceful and orderly demonstrations. The opposition is in bad need of a new agenda, analysts agree. “The slogan of the 'For Fair Election' has turned into a weasel claim with the majority of global powers acknowledging that Putin is the rightful leader. Unless there is a new agenda, there will be a waning in the numbers of protesters in the streets,” Selivanov told RT.Mikhail Remizov, the head of the fund “Strategy-2020,” is convinced the decline in protesters’ numbers tells the opposition they should start creating their own shadow system of rule. “An alternative to the current ruling system can be created only if you become a ruling system yourself – at all the available levels. This is a more mundane task than protests,” Remizov told RIA Novosti.