times

Russia protests: Putin misjudges his greatest threat — the people

The mass demonstrations triggered by the arrest of Alexei Navalny show the president’s dark arts are failing him, writes Matthew Campbell

The Sunday Times

For Tatiana Stanovaya, a political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Centre, this is, in a sense, the secret of his survival. “The reasons for supporting Putin have changed,” she said. “Before it was for positive reasons, people felt proud about Russia. Now they vote for him out of fear that the situation could get a lot worse under someone else. They are afraid of a return to the Yeltsin era.”

Now, though, the Kremlin has cause for serious concern. Seldom have so many government opponents of disparate hues, right and left, young and old, united as they have in the past week around Navalny and against passive acceptance of Putin. Protest has always prompted alarm behind the Kremlin’s high, red walls, which are haunted by histories of revolutions rooted in mass protest, from the Bolshevik takeover to the death throes of communism.

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