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Russia: Second Day of Post-Election Protests

This post is part of our special coverage Russia Elections 2011.

The intrigue of the second day of post-election protests has centered around several major events: court appearances by bloggers Ilya Yashin and Alexey Navalny, a protest demonstration at Triumfalnaya Square, and discussions regarding the Kremlin's soft-power counter-revolution and various means of cyber warfare.

Bloggers’ trials

Right after well-known bloggers Navalny and Yashin were detained on December 5, 2011, they were moved to different police stations and later to different courts. Dmitry Ternovskiy, a blogger and activist noted [ru] (his observation was later confirmed):

Навального перебрасывают из ОВД в ОВД, из суда в суд, как горячий пирожок. Все боятся видимо. Отдайте нам, рассудим товарищеским! ;)

They're tossing Navalny from station to station, from court to court, like a hot potato. Probably, everyone is afraid. Give him back to us, we will judge him as friends! ;)

The court trial of Navalny was surrounded by journalists and his supporters, and was somewhat unusual: the judge refused to watch the video of Navalny's detainment (crucial evidence in a case determining whether he had defied policemen or not), and made other questionable decisions.

A Twitter report was given by two online activists @petunder and @nickbatalov. A Ustream live channel from in front of Tverskoy court was started [ru] (see full archive here [ru]) right after the location of trial was identified. The creator of the Ustream channel received salutations from other cities, where people also followed the Moscow events with great interest.

At 20:00 (MSK time), Judge Borovkova read the sentence to Alexey Navalny. It was identical to the one previously read to Ilya Yashin: 15 days of arrest for defying a policeman.

@nickbatalov was the first to break [ru] the news:

Вердикт! Навальный садится на 15 суток, по максимуму

The verdict! Navalny goes down for 15 days, maximum [sentence for this accusation]

Blogosphere behind bars

Similar trials of yesterday's protesters were conducted in many courts of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Novaya Gazeta reported [ru] that right after the Triumfalnaya Square demonstration started, the courts began to sentence protesters to five days of imprisonment instead of a $30 fine, as they did before.

Also, during the day, a wave of arrests and detentions covered those popular online only. Yegor Zhgun, a famous cartoonist, was officially sentenced to 15 days in prison. Later Ilya Varlamov wrote that the police released him after 24 hours of detention: “They simply let him go, right out of the police bus”.

Vsevolod Chernozub, opposition activist and a popular blogger (vissevald), received 15 days of arrest. Bozhena Rynska, a celebrity journalist and the Russian Internet's enfant terrible, was detained in a very graphic manner [ru] (later, after pressure from Echo Moskvy she was released).

Nashi and Darth Vader

By noon, more and more people started to notice massive movements of law enforcement units and pro-Kremlin youth activists. Dymovskiy_name was among the first to share the picture [ru] of trucks full of military men at Pushkinskaya square. Vladimir Varfolomeev shared a picture [ru] of a line of white buses at Novy Arbat proceeding to the city center. Other pictures of Nashi youth activists in the town were found here and here.

Kommersant wrote that the Interior Ministry sent 50,000 police officers and 11,500 troops to Moscow. Police, however, explained movements away as regular rotations.

In the middle of the day, Nashi and Stal (youth movement) [ru] representatives were marching under the music of the Star Wars “March of the Empire” with someone dressed as Darth Vader at the front.

Events at Triumfalnaya. Photo by Ilya Varlamov on Twitter.

Events at Triumfalnaya. Photo by Ilya Varlamov on Twitter.

#Triumph (alnaya square)

In the evening, Nashi supporters (brought in to Moscow from different regions as a soft power effort to counter pro-democracy action) surrounded by non-identified ‘security’ in green, wouldn't let protesters out of the metro at Triumfalnaya.

Ilya Barabanov shared a picture. Miriam Elder captured a demonstration on the other side of the street. Besttoday.ru aggregated [ru] all the tweets from the event.

This video uploaded to YouTube by user on December 6, illustrates Nashi shouting “Putin – victory”:

Pro-democracy protesters, amongst whom were a lot of bloggers, tweeted as they were beaten by police and detained. An example of such tweet [ru] by @gorod095 (released the same day):

Menya vzyali byut silno

They took me. Beating me hard

Alyona Popova, an IT enterpreneur and Duma candidate, reported [ru] she was kicked by the police:

Меня избили сотрудники полиции!!!!!!!!! #триумфальная Не представившись, ногами в живот со словами “кандидат – это ничего не значит”

I was beaten up by the policemen!!!!!! #triumfalnaya Without introducing themselves, they kicked me in my belly saying “candidate doesn't mean anything”

At around 20:06 MSK, the word ‘Triumfalnaya’ became a global Twitter trend.

Discussing Nashi

Later the same evening Mikhail Svetov, a Japan-based liberal blogger, found an advertisement [ru] through which Nashi had recruited today's anti-activists. The anger of the blogosphere towards Nashi was quite eloquent.

People were harshly commenting on this interview with a Nashi activist Svetlana, who was brought in to Moscow from Ivanovo:

United Russia has raised the economy; we started to dress more better […]

Another account of the lack of integrity of Nashi was covered by this video. The activists of the pro-Kremlin movie shout “Medvedev – victory” while hiding their faces, as if ashamed:

Finally, a great journalistic work [ru] was done by YouTube user Kirov556, who sneaked into the spatious Nashi compound and asked Nashi activists whom would they vote for. Respondents usually saw not much difference between Putin, Medvedev, or United Russia. Some indirectly confessed of ‘bus voting’ [when voters are transfered to votes in specific locations to sway the outcome]:

A different reality

Events in the Russian Twittersphere went unreported on mainstream media. During the day Twitter users shared experiences of talking to their parents, who had absolutely no clue about the demonstrations or election result falsifications.

And yet, as more and more people, whom Russian economist Konstantin Sonin dubbed [ru] the “silent millions”, were watching YouTube videos, the political scheme of things began changing. The silent millions, according to Sonin, are not for the opposition but against Putin. They:

на митинги не ходят, в блоги писать не умеют, сидят смотрят видеоролики, а 4 декабря пришли ясно выразить свои чувства.

don't go on demonstrations, don't know how to write blogs, they're sitting and watching video clips, and on December 4, came to clearly express their feelings

DDoS and hashtag spamming

At 13:36 (MSK) @kuteev, Head of Creative Department of mVideo and a popular blogger, reported [ru] that LiveJournal was down again. Outside of Russia it was still accessible.

@Igrick, a chief LiveJournal tech person, said [ru] that LiveJournal was operational but the “Russian traffic broke somewhere in Europe.”

At 22:36 @partofegor reported [ru] that rosyama.ru (Navalny's project on mapping potholes) and Navalny.ru were being DDoS-ed.

There were relatively few hashtags all day; any were spammed as they appeared, therefore people relied on single trusted bloggers and those whom they re-tweeted. The absence of functional hashtags limited the spread of information and made it dependant on activists’ personal social networks. Pro-government activists used multiple hashtags in one post thus blocking several channels at one time.

During the events at Triumfalnaya Square, Ridus Ustream reporters noticed there was no 3G Internet (only Yota, which they used, was functional). Everyone who was tweeting did so via SMS.

Finally, a fake @navainy account (‘i’ instead of ‘l’ was used) appeared, although, it was quickly identified as a fraud.

This post is part of our special coverage Russia Elections 2011.

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