Kebabs and rock music: Moscow’s ruse for luring the young away from politics

‘Spoiler’ festivals are being held in Russia to try to keep young protesters off the streets

But the so-called “spoiler festivals” are also indicative of a government unlikely to make concessions and focused instead on tactics to win over young people and those sceptical of the protests.

“It is an attempt to distract people with a festival, a positive spectacle,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a political scientist. “The opposition may believe it is stupid, and of course there were not 300,000 people last week, but there are many people in Moscow who are neutral or negative to the protests. This is an appeal to them.” …

The tactic of alternative programming was used during the 2011-12 protests, when the government set up pro-Putin rallies, Stanovaya noted. Attendance could top 150,000 at those events, exceeding the size of anti-Putin protests, although some supporters were bussed in.

But in the new Moscow, pro-Putin rallies are unlikely to return. Instead, Kremlin figures have sought to challenge young political energies toward social activism and the opposition protest this weekend will be recognised by the city. But, late in negotiations, the city told opposition members they would not be allowed to have music during the event.

“They don’t want it to be a celebration,” Stanovaya said. The organisers have said they will have music anyway.



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