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The Power Vertical

Zhuravlyov's March: An 'Authorized' Walk Through Yekaterinburg

A scene from the video of Rostislav Zhuravlyov's "march" in Yekaterinburg.
A scene from the video of Rostislav Zhuravlyov's "march" in Yekaterinburg.
One of the questions I had when Russia's new protest law went into effect was how would opposition-minded citizens respond.
In the months prior to the legislation's passage, the opposition had been showing remarkable creativity to find loopholes in existing law -- holding "walks," setting up "encampments," and holding "festivals" instead of formal "demonstrations" or "marches."

But as soon as President Vladimir Putin signed the new restrictive bill into law, participants in those actions too could be fined -- if the authorities determined that they were political protests.
Was a new wave of Belarus-style actions, with people simultaneously clapping or setting off their mobile-phone alarms at specific times in public places, in the offing? Would toy protests make a comeback?
Well, a man named Rostislav Zhuravlyov from Yekaterinburg has provided one answer: compliance to the point of absurdity.
"I would like to inform you of my intention to organize a onetime mass event on June 24, 2012, in which people will walk through public places in Yekaterinburg in order to view the city's attractions and meet with friends," Zhuravlyov wrote in a letter to city authorities that was received on June 9.
Rostislav Zhuravlyov's letter to the authoritiesRostislav Zhuravlyov's letter to the authorities
Rostislav Zhuravlyov's letter to the authorities
Rostislav Zhuravlyov's letter to the authorities
Zhuravlyov's march, the officially worded letter informed the authorities, would begin at his apartment (Ulitsa Belinskovo 143) at 9 a.m. and finish at the Grinvich shopping center at 12:30 p.m.
"In order to ensure safety for the participants of this mass onetime event and movement of people, I ask for a police escort," he wrote.
To Zhuravlyov's surprise, the police called him at 8 a.m. on the morning of June 24 to inform him that they would meet him outside his apartment building at the appointed time.
He met the police alone, went on his walk through the city with an escort, videotaped the highlights, and posted it on LiveJournal.

"My friends, the law on demonstrations is working well. The police have met me. I'm impressed. I'm honestly impressed," he said.
The police appeared a bit befuddled, but went along.
Zhuravlyov's little stunt is now making the rounds on the Russian Internet (it has over 100,000 views on YouTube), and has attracted the attention of anticorruption blogger and opposition figure Aleksei Navalny (you can read his post on it in Russian here and in English here).
"This is a good idea," Navalny wrote. "We need to maintain public order in Moscow, too. Why don't we have a couple of hundred similar authorized marches for cigarettes or ice cream, as well as officially sanctioned meetings while queuing at the bank?"
This could get interesting, not to mention amusing.

(h/t to @PicoBee for flagging this on Twitter)
-- Brian Whitmore

Tags: Russian opposition,Russian protest law,Rostislav Zhuravlyov,Yekaterinburg

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jack from: US
June 25, 2012 14:53
sounds like the new law is not quite perfect. Russian government should be charging a fee for police escort of demonstrators. This way the oppositionists like Navalny will go bankrupt before they can do any damage by abusing the law
In Response

by: George from: USA
June 25, 2012 17:10
Well jack, it seems to me the Police are already paid to serve and protect the citizens. How stunning that they are doing their job, in a country with corruption levels at all time high.
Also consider the fact that it is the law its self that is abusive, anti-democratic. A law Stalin and Hitler would have enjoyed.
Really makes me wonder where your head is at. Who you work for, and what you represent.

by: Jack from: US
June 25, 2012 18:33
just watched that video. My only comment to the video is that young man obviously could not believe he was treated like normal citizen, not like crackhead he looked like. My only advise to him would be to spend his money not on trolling the police but on a good dentist

by: La Russophobe from: USA
June 26, 2012 08:12
I wonder if the opposition figures will ever realize how increasingly ludicrous they are making themselves appear. The hacking of Navalny's twitter account is another good example. If these idiots would read a little more Gandhi and King, they might see that the goal of protest is to GET arrested, not to AVOID being arrested. The goal is to provoke the authorities into increasing acts of official barbarism in order to discredit THEM. Instead, with these ludicrous acts, including Navalny on the board of Aeroflot, the opposition figures only make themselves seem more and more insignificant (as if their dwindling demonstration numbers, total lack of clear leadership and agenda had not already achieved this). Somewhere deep in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is smiling broadly, if he is not laughing out loud.
In Response

by: Vova-Pizdets from: Vovagrad
June 26, 2012 21:53
La Russophobe - this article has nothing really to do with opposition figures as such (after all this is just a guy who disagrees with the law), but just for the record, last time I checked, opposition figure had been arrested several times - usually for breaking the laws regarding protest meetings (exactly what this article is about, right) - Navalny spent 15 days in prison very recently. Perhaps you don't have access to google in Nashi headquarters?
And just how is Navalny's election to the Aeroflot board "ludicrous"? Helping to bring corrupt national companies to account has always been central to Navalny's mission.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 27, 2012 05:00
Congratulations once again to the RFE/RL: after a couple of weeks of vacas flacas when almost no one cared to comment on these "interesting negative" stories on Russia, they seem to have found a relatively boring video, which however managed to galvanize 3 people to comments on this "article". Good job, guys, you really know how to sell useless products to people by wrapping them up in cheap colourful paper :-)!
In Response

by: George from: USA
June 28, 2012 04:03
A real congrats to RFE/RL, you guys must be doing a good job, or the SVR/FSB would not be paying 2 "names" to constantly bad mouth you. Keep up the good work reporting the truth.
@ Eugenio, have never been charged to read here, WTF are you talking about? "Sell useless product". Put down the vodka bottle dude, it's wrecking your brain.
In Response

by: Jimbeau from: DC USA
June 28, 2012 14:15
Amen! George from USA.
Too bad they're so obvious, huh?

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or