The blog Darkness at Noon has been resurrected from its hiatus with an interesting post responding to today’s news that the Nashi youth brigades will be deployed on city streets across Russia to crack down on any anti-government protests during upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Predicting violence, Rubashov laments the Kremlin’s campaign to wipe out independent centers of influence:
As independent political centers are reduced, ordinary citizens are left with fewer and fewer means by which they can make their views known and influence the politics of their country. There comes a point at which their views can be expressed in the only place left open and unregulated: the streets. Thus, rallies, demonstrations, and protests are the last stand for those who wish to influence the politics of an authoritarianizing regime. It is no coincidence that as Putin’s Russia has become more autocratic we’ve seen an increase in the number, frequency, and intensity of political protests. Nothing else can capture the attention of the regime, and it is now clear that the Kremlin’s attention has been captured. It is also clear now why Nashi and its Kremlin backers are so fearful of opposition and see the need to enforce order: public protests are the last means by which their power and control are threatened, and it is a threat which – like the Duma, the Federation Council, political parties, independent media, civic organizations, and oligarchs – must be contained. Russia’s leaders have stated on several occasions that an “Orange Revolution” will not take place in Russia. Nashi’s activists seem determined to make sure of it.