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30 Mar, 2009 05:26

Will crisis take Russians to the streets?

Credit-crunched Russians are becoming more vocal in their criticism of business leaders. There are concerns that the anger of those who unfairly lost their jobs could soon spill out into the streets.

Active forms of disapproval are very rare in Russia. Political rallies seldom occur and attract small amounts of people.

“I was fired from a place where I worked for six years because of the financial crisis. But I would never go out on the streets to achieve something. In Russia it is absolutely pointless. It's a major flaw that we don't have trade unions. Employers deliberately do not create them because they fear their strength,” said crisis victim, Konstantin Obuhov.

Unlike in Europe, where anything can cause strikes, most Russians won't bother protesting.

“In western countries people are fighting for social justice, they are ready to protest, when their social welfare is under threat. In Russia, people are alienated from each other, they don't trust trade unions, they are afraid of social changes. But at the breaking point, in times of economic turmoil, the situation might change,” said Albert Speransky, of the public organization work initiative.

Indeed, this time the pressure is on. But in this case, it's not just on people with certain political beliefs, but on everybody. And those who never protested before after losing their jobs might start learning about their rights and standing up for them.

“Especially for youth, there are good reasons to study the labor code and some another legislation about the current situation, and I know that people are now beginnning to use the internet and some literature in tnis sense, and I believe the level of knowledge will be higher than before," economist Evgeny Gontmakher said.

If the turmoil helps to raise awareness among Russians, perhaps more people could be found on the streets losing their voices screaming out the country's constitution.