Kicking the Kremlin, by Marc Bennetts
Kicking the Kremlin
In the final days of 2011 more than 100,000 opposition activists converged on Moscow’s freezing streets to protest about ballot-rigging in the parliamentary elections that Vladimir Putin’s party won despite a huge slump in public support. Marc Bennetts, a Moscow-based British journalist, charts here how “less than a decade after crowds had toppled a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet Union’s secret police, a former KGB officer had risen to the highest post in the land”. He also profiles some of the loudest dissident voices, such as the Occupy activists, the Marxist Sergei Udaltsov, the Moscow mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny and the feminist punk-protest outfit Pussy Riot. Compelling accounts from riot police and ordinary Russians represent a new generation of activist: young, tech-savvy and determined to fight for real democracy using the internet and social media. Bennett writes with clarity and wryness about a Russia on the brink of popular revolt. Read it now, after Putin’s Ukrainian moves, which illustrate this virtual tsar’s willingness to court danger and endure crippling sanctions.