Pragmatism, Russian style

>> Saturday, 4 February 2012

There are demonstrations scheduled in the middle of Moscow today. They are to protest against the alleged ballot fixing of the state parliament elections held at the end of last year and to demand greater political freedom. Before Christmas, there were also demonstrations for the same reasons, which largely took place peacefully (despite what you may have read in the media elsewhere).

No one knows how many people will turn up today; the largest demonstration in December attracted between 30,000 and 80,000 people depending on which stats you believe. The key difference today though is the temperature. At the end of last year, winter had yet to kick in and it was still - mainly - above freezing. Today, however, it's around -19degC, and let me tell you, no matter how strong your feeling of outrage, you do not want to stand still for more than a few minutes outside when it's this cold.

Having said that, it is still likely that there will be thousands of people who want to make their voices heard, so there will be a substantial police presence in the centre of the city today.

Here's where the pragmatism comes in. In a radio interview this week, a high ranking police official was asked how they planned to handle the demonstration, and answered as follows (please note; I have paraphrased since I don't have a direct translation):

"If there are 10,000 of them, we'll arrest them all. If there are 50,000, we'll do nothing. And if there are 100,000? We'll join them."

Appalling as that statement might appear, you've got to love the pragmatism...


MsCaroline 4 February 2012 at 08:14  

Hmmm...Well, it *is* sort of democratic, right? Majority rule and all? Frankly, I'd be impressed if a lot of them showed up. It was -14C when I headed to work on Thursday morning; I had a 15-minute walk from the bus stop to the school and could not feel my toes (despite boots and 2 pair of warms socks) when I got there. Of course, the Russians are probably more used to it than I am, but still.

graceandme 4 February 2012 at 11:01  

Yes that's definately pragmatic. And good luck to them. You stay in the warm and watch it on the news. Brrrrrrrrrr!

Iota 4 February 2012 at 14:53  

I think it's pretty impressive that even 1 person would turn up in that cold.

Potty Mummy 5 February 2012 at 08:25  

MsC, not sure about the democracy, tbh. But there's always hope - and it does look as if things may be changing.

Grace, actually we went out for lunch instead. Very decadent and uncaring I know...

Iota, and since there were somewhere in between 30,000 and 120,000 (results may vary), I think it was ruddy amazing!

Muddling Along 6 February 2012 at 11:37  

That is some impressive temperatures - and yes, standing around doesn't sound like fun in it

Do like the pragmatism - guess that could be seen as democracy in some form?

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