Russia: Bloggers’ Photo Reports and Reflections on Pro-Putin Rally in Moscow

This post is part of our special coverage Russia Elections 2011/12.

On Thursday, February 23, 2012, ten days before the March 4 presidential election, the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addressed thousands of people at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The Guardian's Miriam Elder described the event as “a gathering reminiscent of Soviet spectacle both in rhetoric and style”:

[…] Thousands of workers from the provinces were bussed in or rushed on to trains to attend the event. […]

A rally in support of PM Vladimir Putin took place in Moscow on Feb. 23, ahead of the presidential election on March 4. Photo by Irina Firsova, copyright © Demotix (23/02/12).

A rally in support of PM Vladimir Putin took place in Moscow on Feb. 23, ahead of the presidential election on March 4. Photo by Irina Firsova, copyright © Demotix (23/02/12).

A number of Moscow-based bloggers attended the February 23 rally, too. Below is a selection of their photo reports and observations, along with some of the remarks from their audiences.

LJ user mi3ch posted 17 photos and wrote [ru]:

Absolutely ordinary people. Trusting. Good. Like my aunt. Like my next-door neighbor. Students, workers, [state employees], pensioners. Seven out of ten – women. Mothers and grandmothers. And they really like Putin. He is so brave and decisive. […]

Their main distinction from [those who attended the opposition's rallies at Bolotnaya Square] are their faces. At Luzhniki, hardly anyone was smiling. And almost everyone walked silently. […]

LJ user otshellnica rebuked the blogger [ru] in the comments section:

At Bolotnaya, you could find the same [unsmiling] faces in the multi-thousand crowd. Just as there were nice and smiling faces at this rally. You, of all people, shouldn't be playing with such cheap arguments.

LJ user maxsytch offered [ru] a different point of comparison between the anti- and pro-Putin rallies:

The difference was in the percentage of the people who came to Bolotnaya and Luzhniki voluntarily.

Ryazan-based LJ user tamrat elaborated [ru] on the definition of ‘voluntarily,’ citing her city's participation in the February 23 rally as an example:

People from Ryazan enterprises came voluntarily – and joyfully. And whether they are for Putin or not is irrelevant. They had a tour of Moscow for free! They were taken there, got fed, listened to a concert. And all this for free! People came back home happy. And nothing will change in our country until a person can be made happy with free food and a trip!

LJ user vova-maltsev posted 14 photos [ru] and recounted his quick conversations with some of the rally's participants:


- Why are you here?
– We've been brought in here, [damn it].
– Are you for Putin?
– [Screw him], our salary's 17,000 [rubles a month, $580].


There were [Tajik migrant workers] sitting in one of the buses.
– Are you for Putin?
– [We work as cleaners in Izmailovo, damn it, and we are stuck here now. Will have to do our job all night.]


Nice [female] school cooks.
– What are you doing here?
– We've been dispatched here.
– To cook porridge [for the rally's participants]?
– Yes.
– Did you go to Bolotnaya?
– No, they didn't send us there.
– Are you for Putin?
– Yes, of course… Are you a journalist?
– Yes. I'm not for Putin.
– (whispering) We are all against him. All our teachers are against, too.

An anonymous reader left this comment [ru] to LJ user vova-maltsev's post:

[They are being drawn there forcefully.] They aren't even getting paid, the motivation is their fear of problems at work + 1 day off. This info is 100% true. Relatives work at a state enterprise, in Moscow.

LJ user panzicov (Alexei Vitvitskiy) posted 48 photos [ru] on his blog. Five of these photos, the blogger claims, show a group of people allegedly being paid for their participation in the rally:

[…] The conscience of the people costs 800 rubles [$27] for two hours, [the money] was being handed out at [Park Kultury metro station] right after the rally. […]

Seven photos in LJ user panzicov's report show a group of young black men carrying handmade banners with pro-Putin slogans on them. Another blogger, LJ user drandin (Igor Drandin), talked with these men, asking them where they were from, and posted the video [ru, en] on his blog and on YouTube; one of the men explained, in English, that they were from Kenya.

LJ user pier_luigi, commenting on LJ user panzicov's post, wrote this [ru] about Putin's Kenyan supporters:

North Korea this is not – not yet… But the representatives of international Putinism are very impressive!

LJ user tushinetc posted 16 photos [ru] taken before most of the rally's participants took their seats at the Luzhniki Stadium. One of the photos shows empty seats with identical plastic bags on them. LJ user tushinetc explained:

[…] Some organizations took good care of their employees, making sure they do not get cold while sitting on plastic [seats]. In each bag placed on the seats there's a blanket, as well as a candy and a tangerine, and on the seat itself, there's [a cloth mat for sitting]. […]

LJ user 2014imeretinka commented [ru]:

How mean! For a candy and a tangerine…

LJ user panfilosoff replied [ru]:

Not mean at all… If you don't attend, you'll have serious problems at work, and if you do attend, you'll get a reward and a tangerine. Everything's simple and logical.

This post is part of our special coverage Russia Elections 2011/12.


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