After an enforced break (a doctor jabbed a very sharp needle into my thumb joint – long story) TWiRB is back to update you on what Russia bloggers have been talking about in the last week – which as it turns out was one of the most interesting weeks in Russia for ages.
As there’s so much to cover, I’m going to break this weeks review up into two themes – Protests and Prokhorov – before wrapping up with all the miscellaneous stuff from those authors who didn’t follow the rest of us sheep and who had the courage to write about something other than elections.
First up, blogger reaction to the biggest protests seen in Russia since Putin rose to power. While the mainstream Western media seemed to think only of the forthcoming and, in their opinion, inevitable revolution against Putin’s rule, commentary from the blogs was, thankfully, much more nuanced.
- John Randolph at Russian History Blog notes that “the party of swindlers and thieves” – the anti United Russia slogan that has been inspiring protestors and was supposedly coined by blogger Alex Navalny – was actually first used in the pre-election TV debates by… yep, you guessed it, ultra-nationalist-nutjob Vladimir Zhirinovksy.
- Brian Whitmore at the Power Vertical thinks that the Russian people are slowly becoming unafraid of Putin, who has unwittingly created a Power Horizontal. The big question, of course, is will the blog change name if there is a revolution?
- Truth and Beauty (and Russian Finance) thinks it was all a bit of a damp squib – a Facebook Field of Dreams, if you will – and doesn’t see any threat to Russian macro-economic stability.
- Anatoly Karlin publishes Truth and Falsifications in Russia, his first article on Al-Jazeera. He concludes that these elections may well have “laid the foundations for genuinely multi-party politics after the next legislative election in 2017.”
- Sean, of Sean’s Russia Blog, asks “Why are Russians protesting now?”
- Kevin Rothrick at A Good Treaty thinks that the Russian Government will have to react to the protests, but doesn’t think they’ll achieve all that much.
- Tom Barton thinks that Putin will still win the election, but that the protests will maybe force him to win without his “magic tricks”.
- Russia Watchers translates an article from Echo Moskvy’s Leonid Radzikhovsky that “captures the spirit of the day”.
- Ana Viver at Foreign Policy’s Russia blog thinks that we’re seeing an empowered Russian opposition for the first time.
- Protests of a different kind, and perhaps more meaningful – Streetwise Professor notes that while the Russian stock market overall has fallen by 11% since the election, stocks in companies closely linked to Putin have fallen even further.
Mikhail Prokhorov’s entry into the race to become Russia’s next President has confused analysts – everyone who hates Putin (and doesn’t love one of the alternatives already on offer) wants to see him as a crusader for the liberal future they dream of seeing for Russia. But no-one entirely is convinced that he isn’t just a Putin stooge. Oh, what paranoid times we live in…
- Mark Adomanis runs through a few of the theories about why Prokhorov is running before coming down in favour of it being a mostly free and fair election that Prokhorov won’t win.
- Putin Watcher is convinced that Prokhorov’s candidacy is “part of a ‘liberal variant’ that the Putin regime will use to co-opt growing opposition”.
- Brian Whitmore thinks that this, and other recent developments, are a sign of the Kremlin scrambling to regain the initiative.
- Robert Amsterdam thinks “it seems clear that Putin’s ‘managed’ political opposition is morphing.”
Let’s start our final section with a Happy Birthday!
- Russian Defense Blog is two years old, and to celebrate has a little review of what’s been happening. Conclusion = the Russian military is improving and re-arming, but its progress could still be derailed.
- Sarah J Young lists the Top Ten Letters in Russian Literature.
- Mark Adomanis of the Russia Hand rips apart Niall Ferguson’s article about the Russian elections, accusing him of “engaging in increasingly ludicrous historical counterfactuals”
- Robert Amsterdam has a go, too, calling Ferguson’s article “ridiculously flawed”.
- Russian Military Reform writes about the generous new pay structure for the Russian military that was recently approved by the Government. File under: seems dull, but actually very important.
- Rob Macdonald talks about life in the Russian Far North, where it gets very dark and very cold in the winter.
- The Russian Front writes about some new research into The Great Fatherland War.
- Patrick Armstrong’s Russian Federation Weekly Sitrep is out.
- Paul Richardson from Russian Life pops up at the Russian Language Blog to talk about Russians and their Vodka.
- One for the internet marketing geeks among us – Yandex is making increasing use of social media in its search results.
And, finally, for the chefs among us, Windows to Russia has posted an article with links to all of its many Russian recipes.
Moscow Protests picture, reprinted with permission of ridus.ru.