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A Good Restaurant is No Longer Enough: Political Demand and Moscow’s Middle Class Opposition

de Vogel, Sasha

The protests held in Moscow, Russia between the December 2011 Duma elections and the March 2012 Presidential elections attracted unprecedentedly large crowds (from 5,000-100,000 participants) that were in part the result of the emergence of a new set of organizers—a group of young, media-savvy, socially networked hipsters. These young people were able to employ social networking and extensive personal networks to organize and publicize the rallies. The first part of this paper traces the formation of this unlikely coalition by looking closely at the organization of the December 5 and December 10 rallies. Drawing on interviews conducted with key actors and published accounts of the protests, it will examine how young new political actors began to work with established opposition leaders, whose politics they did not support and who had not been successful at attracting an audience to their rallies. It highlights systemic factors that could have led to the cooperation of the liberal and left groups. It concludes with a brief summary of the establishment of the For Fair Elections in mid-December. The second part of this paper uses statistical data gathered at the December 24 and February 4 demonstrations to establish that the participants of the protest were members of the pro-modernization urban middle class. In an attempt to elucidate the motivations for thousands of formerly apolitical people attended rallies held by oppositionists they did not support, this section assesses the political position and rising significance of the Russia’s increasingly isolated middle class. Finally, conclusions are drawn as to how the fragile political coalition and the newly politically active urban middle class can move forward to effect political change in Russia.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Slavic Languages and Literatures
Published Here
July 25, 2013

Notes

Last draft, April 2013. Presented at the Association for the Study of Nationalities World Convention, April 19, 2013.