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Russia: Bloggers React, Reflect On Egypt Protests

Photo of pro-democracy protesters in Egypt on January 28, 2011. Taken by monasosh

As protesters surged to the streets in Tunisia and Egypt at the end of January, Russian bloggers began to rehash the news, and some reflected on how the uprisings in these Northern African countries could affect Russia and Russia's stifled opposition movement.

Discussing the reasons of the Egyptian revolution

Many bloggers tried to interpret the reasons behind what seemed like sudden protests, citing the unequal economic situation as well as high unemployment among youth, plaguing countries in Africa and the Middle East. LJ-user Neoliberal2 wrote [RUS]:

Я думаю, что причин две: 1. Последствия мирового экономического кризиса (нет дешевого кредита); 2. Повышение цен на хлеб, вызванных в том числе пожарами в России;

Таким образом, пожары и смог в России лета 2010 года докатились до Египта и реально подпалили режим. Тунис кстати тоже покупал зерно в РФ.

I think that there are two reasons [for the unrest in Egypt] 1. Consequences of the world economic crisis (there is no cheap credit); 2. The increase of the price of bread, caused by, among others, the fires in Russia; And, in this way, the fires and smoke in Russia during the summer of 2010 reached Egypt and literally burned the regime. Tunisia also, by the way, bought grain from the Russian Federation.

In a trend that has been the topic of multiple news articles, Gregory Asmolov referenced [RUS] the role of Al Jazeera on the protests, and specifically the influence of Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera television:

У событий в Тунисе, Египте и других краях арабского мира нет четкого лидера, но есть “невидимая рука”. Она отображена на фотографии сверху. Это [Вада – GV] Ханфар, глава телеканала “Аль-Джазира” […] Канал, информационная политика которого быть голосом народа более чем выполнил свою функцию. Он почти полностью лишил арабские государства контроля над информацией, и моментально распространил искры сопротивления по всему арабскому миру, показывая события через фрейминг “народного сопротивления”. Искра также была подхвачена социальными сетями и Твиттером, которые помогли, где более где менее успешно мобилизовать толпу.

The happenings in Tunisia, Egypt, and in other parts of the Arab world have no specific leader, but there is an “invisible hand.” It is represented in the picture above, Mohhamed Khanfar, head of the channel Al Jazeera. […] The station, which information policy aims to be the voice of the people, has more than served its function. He [Khanfar] has almost completely destroyed Arab governments’ ability to control information and is able to immediately spread sparks of dissent through the Arab world broadcasting the incidents though the framing of “people’s opposition.” The spark was also taken up by social networks and Twitter, which helped to more or less successfully mobilize people.

Comparing to Russia

As in the discussion of the Tunisian revolution [ENG], bloggers compared the protest to revolutions in post-Soviet states. Blogger Sasha [RUS] couched her praise of Egypt with a fear that, should such a movement happen in Russia, it would not be as relatively peaceful as Egypt’s has been.

Вчера разговаривал с dingir [RUS] которая как раз вернулась из Каира очень понравилось ее высказывание о том что в Египте типичная “левантийская революция” в одном квартале погромы в соседнем все сидят по кафе и кофе пьют, правда боюсь что сейчас там все усложняется и Левант заканчивается, кстати по поводу множества восторгов в нете и возгласов “скоро в России” искренне надеюсь что нет, Россия не Левант там все обычно жестко.

I was talking with dingir who just got back from Cairo, and I really liked her stories about the fact that Egypt is a typical “Levant revolution” – in one neighborhood there is a pogrom and in the neighboring one everyone is sitting in cafes and drinking coffee, of course I fear that maybe now everything will become complicated and the Levant will end. By the way, in relation to the massive excitement on the net and the callings for “soon in Russia,” I sincerely hope this will not happen. Russia is not the Levant. And there everything is often cruel.

A handful of bloggers attacked Western government for their “hypocritical” stance toward the Egyptian government, specifically referencing their treatment of “authoritarian regimes” like Aleksandr Lukashenko’s in Belarus, while seeming to support Mubarak's 30 years of rule. Pilgrim-67 wrote [RUS]:

Декабрь 2010 года. Лукашенко разгоняет митинг на Плошчы Незалежнасцi. Это занимает один вечер. Ни одного человека не погибло.

Западные дерьмократы забились в истерике, зашлись воем о том, что Лукашенко тиран и прекратили всяческие контакты с ним.

Январь 2011 года. Мубарак убил около 100 жителей Египта. Волнения происходят не первый день. Мубарак уже не контролирует страну.

Очаровательный америконегритянец вышел, невнятно побредил немного. И все!!!

December 2010 [President of Belarus Aleksandr] Lukashenko broke up a meeting on Independence Square. It happened in one night. Not one person died. Western democracies flew into hysterics, let out cries that Lukashenko is a tyrant and cut all contact with him. January 2011, [Egyptian President Hussein] Mubarak killed around 100 Egyptian people. The waves [of protest] have gone on longer than one day. Mubarak no longer controls the country. The fantastic black American came out and calmly said some gibberish. And that’s it!!!

The Egyptian government's shutdown of social networking services and cell phone services worried some bloggers that the Russian government would resort to similar measures. Bloggers re-posted an article from the Russian newspaper “Argumenty Nedeli” [RUS] and noted that soon the Russian government would come after “facebookers” and “twitterers.”

В России создана совместная группа, состоящая из ответственных руководителей Администрации Президента, МИД, СВР, ГРУ ГШ и ФСБ, которая анализирует причины «жасминовых революций» в Тунисе, Египте и Йемене. […] Цель ее работы – выработать рекомендации для правящих кругов в России с целью не допустить у нас повторения событий в Северной Африке.

A co-operative group, consisting of the heads of the President’s Administration, the Foreign Minstry, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the main intelligence directorate of the General Staff, and the FSB, has been formed to analyze the causes of the “jasmine revolution” in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. […] The goal of the groups work is to come up with recommendations for the ruling circles in Russia in order to prevent a similar situation from the one in North Africa from happening in Russia.

Eduard Limonov, a leader of the opposition party “The Other Russia,” wrote on his blog [RUS]:

В свете  революций в Тунисе и в Египте уже даже  клиническим идиотам должны стать понятными  репрессии  против активистов Триумфальной площади, активистов “Стратегии-31″,продолжающиеся уже  около двух лет, и понятны  интриги вокруг Стратегии-31.  Власть РФ, по духу своему соответствующая  авторитарным режимам Туниса и  Египта,  насмерть перепугана возможностями, которые откроет перед российскими гражданами  свобода мирных собраний.

In the light of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, even a clinically diagnosed idiots should understand the repressions against the activists on Triumfalnaya Square, the activists of “Strategy 31,” which has been going on for more than two years, and should understand the intrigue surrounding Strategy-31. The government of the Russian Federation, in the spirit similar to authoritarian regimes of Tunisia and Egypt, is scared to death of the possibilities that have opened up before the Russian people of holding free, peaceful protests.

LJ-user belekhoff wrote [RUS] on his black-and-red themed blog that he hopes Russia’s power structure is toppled in a similar way.

А мне нравится то, что сейчас происходит в этих арабских странах, очень хорошо, что рушатся тоталитарные режимы, глядишь и до России дойдёт очередь. И вот тогда поедет Вован Путин на восток, вот только не Ладе-Калине, а в “столыпинском” вагончике, […]. А вместе с ним отправятся и его подельники, Бориска Грызлов, Серж Шойгу, Валюша Матвиенко или Валя Стакан, ну и остальные едрорасы. Всё правильно, паразитам дорога только на зону. Они этого заслужили за 11 лет строительства тоталитарного государства.

I really like what is going on in these Arab countries, it’s really great that these totalitarian regimes are being toppled, it seems like it would be Russia’s turn soon. And well then Vovan Putin will travel east, only not in Lada Kalina [Russian car promoted by Vladimir Putin several months ago – G.V.], but in a “Stolypin” car […]. And with him go his helpers Boris Gryzlov [speaker of the Russian parliament], Serzh [Sergey] Shoigu [Ministry of Emergency], Valyusha [Valentina] Matviyenko [Mayor of Saint-Petersburg] or Valya Stakan [Matvienko's nickname], and, well, all the other members of “United Russia.” All’s well, these parasites only deserve the road to the penal colony. They deserve it for the 11 years they built a totalitarian state.

LJ-user Volokhonsky concluded [RUS]:

Круто у них там, да. Вот египетская ситуация куда ближе к нашей, чем тунисская. У них, как и у нас, нет действительно сильных оппозиционных политических сил, нет и какого-то существенного раскола в партийной элите. Поэтому сейчас по улице бегают сотни тысяч людей, которые не связаны каким-то внятным единством требований, кроме как отставки Мубарака.

It’s cool there, true. And the situation in Egypt is closer to our own than the one in Tunisia. They [Egyptians], like us [Russians], don’t have a strong political opposition, and there is no schism in the party elite, and therefore right now in the streets hundreds of thousands of people are running, and they are not connected by any central singular demand except the resignation of Mubarak.

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