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A Salute to Russia’s Courageous, Woken Youth

Mikhail Fishman has a great oped in the Moscow Times which highlights the role of youth in the anti-corruption protest movement which shocked Russia and the world this past weekend. The next generation of Russians doesn’t bear the trauma and exhaustion of the beleaguered opposition – they don’t remember a past without Putin, but they are ready to imagine such a future. And that is very frightening to the Kremlin.

An excerpt below:

Many of the youths becoming politically conscious today weren’t even teenagers five years ago. On Sunday, they showed that they haven’t been scared yet, which is solid political capital in Putin’s Russia.

While it’s hard to assess the impact of Sunday’s surprisingly large demonstrations, it’s fair to say that Russia’s political picture has changed. Navalny is now the opposition’s undisputed leader. Prime Minister Medvedev, the protests’ main target, is now a lame duck, and it would surprise hardly anyone if he’s sacrificed in the next year, before Vladimir Putin’s likely re-election run. (…)

Whatever happens, Sunday’s explosion of youth activism reaffirms an old maxim about political regimes: Russia’s authoritarian leadership is always preparing to fight the last war, and risks losing the next one.