Expert view: protests in Russia due to the arrest of Aleksei Navalny

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Aleksey Navalny
Aleksei Navalny

Expert in Russian history, Dr James Pearce, comments on the recent protests in Russia:

"In February, approximately 40,000 took the streets in Moscow to protest the arrest of opposition figure, Aleksei Navalny, after an alleged poisoning. Thousands were detained. Harder crackdowns after protests in neighbouring Belarus would have made the Kremlin appear extremely vulnerable and worried about a threat to Putin’s leadership.

The Russian state has looked increasingly vulnerable and authoritarian in its reaction to political opposition, yet Putin’s popularity remained high.

Shrinking incomes, rising food prices and new sanctions are all factors contributing to the political mood.

Aleksei Navalny attained just 4% in the latest Levada poll. Whilst many Russians approve his of corruption expositions and fear for his safety, Navalny is far from a hero of the people, let alone a darling of the liberal opposition.

Putinism, by contrast, is rooted in a commitment to stability, championing gradual and unintrusive changes that avoid the chaos of the recent past, namely the 1990s, Perestroika and 1950s for the elderly.

Revolution is a word with extremely negative connotations in Russia today. As things stand for the majority, they could, and have been, considerably worse."