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Vladimir Putin and the Bicycle

May 23, 2012 - Example Author - New Eastern Europe newsletter

New Eastern Europe contributor Josh Black analyses the position of the opposition in Russia in the context of a viral picture by New Yorker journalist Julia Ioffe, which shows a boy on a bicycle in front of a wall of OMON forces in Moscow.  

Putin and The Bicycle

By Josh Black

For most journalists, analysts and political actors, the most exhilarating possible moment is when a population who had previously been thought of as apathetic, quiescent and defeatist turns on its government.  Russia after the December 2011 Duma elections is such a place.  In Moscow, St Petersburg and Astrakhan, thousands have marched to protest against fraudulent practices, bureaucracy gaming the system and corruption. In March of this year their chief hope – “Rossiya bez Putina” (Russia without Putin) – was dashed and ever since, the opposition has been moving in smaller and smaller concentric circles.

New Yorker columnist Julia Ioffe has deemed that the image of the most recent wave of protests has been the picture of a child on a bicycle, facing a wall of special force policemen (OMON). Yet far from representing the tyranny of Tiananmen Square, this image reveals only the amateurism of the position the Russian opposition finds itself in; those opposition leaders willing to engage with the political system and those preferring to mobilise public opinion on the streets are the rear wheels, being steered into the clutches of the authorities.

To read the full article click here: https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/327


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