The route of yesterday’s March of Peace (against the Russian invasion of the Crimea) was traditional for the oppositional marches in recent years in Moscow: from Pushkinskaia Square along the boulevards to Turgenevskaia Square with final meeting on Sakharov Avenue. There were surprisingly many people – less than at the ‘marches of millions’, but definitely more than at the autumn demonstration in favour of political prisoners. The organizers told about 50 thousand, I’m not sure it was really so, but there were certainly tens of thousands of participants, much more than 3,000 (the figure from the police reports). Taking into account how strongly have the Crimean events split the Russian society, including the oppositional part of it, this is really a good news.
Moscow authorities hoped of course that there would be much less people. They opened only one side of the boulevard for us so it was rather narrow to walk from time to time.
We were walking in one column, without any division according the political preferences. There were several communists, but this time not many – some of them support the occupation of the Crimea. There were almost no nationalists, although I’ve seen two flags of the former Russian Empire (with black, yellow and white stripes) that they usually use.
The mood was rather serious, not like at a carnival as it was at the first rallies against falsification of the elections’ results. It was nevertheless very friendly as previously – that was always an advantage of the ‘white-ribbon’ movement. There were not so many flags and placards as usually, but there were a lot of Russian and Ukrainian flags and a lot of peace symbols (☮). The placards were quite witty as usually, I hope to post the photos soon. I especially enjoyed the word putriots (Putin+patriots) ;-)
We successfully failed to meet the Sergei Kurginian’s march in favour of annexation of the Crimea (it began from Trubnaia Square that was on our way), so there wasn’t any provocations.
I don’t know what will follow – and I don’t think our yesterday’s walk will make Putin and Co. change their policy toward the Crimea. But at least we said our ‘no’ (I even saw a placard with the only word no), and at the same time made sure that there are quite a lot of us, and spent several wonderful hours in the company of the people with similar world view (as said my former scientific adviser whom I met at the march, ‘I have such an impression as if I knew the people around although actually I don’t’). In today’s Russia, full of hatred, intolerance and xenophobia, such a breath of fresh air is absolutely necessary from time to time.