Putin strolls to victory – but his opponents humiliate and outfox him

Silent flash mobs descended on polling stations at noon on Sunday in Midday In opposition to Putin protests – Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

On paper, no less than, it will need to have appeared so easy. Vladimir Putin wished to repair a presidential election to point out the world that atypical Russians love and admire him and assist his struggle in Ukraine.

With complete domination of the media, which pumps out hardcore pro-Kremlin propaganda, full management of the central election committee, which cancels Putin’s opponents, and a well-oiled vote-rigging machine, absolutely nothing might go fallacious.

Besides it did, spectacularly.

Putin was humiliated and outfoxed by his opponents in an empowering and refined nationwide protest that reminded suppressed Russians against his authoritarian rule that they don’t seem to be alone.

“It was simply fantastic,” one particular person in Russia who attended one of many Midday In opposition to Putin protests advised me.

Putin’s opponents turned his election in opposition to him by calling for silent flash mobs at noon on Sunday at polling stations throughout the nation – the very locations the place the Kremlin wished individuals to point out their fealty by voting for the regime.

Thousands of people suddenly turned up en masse at polling stations around Russia

1000’s of individuals immediately turned up en masse at polling stations round Russia – Dmitir Lovetsky/AP

Protests are banned in Russia, and demonstrators can’t stand in a sq. and shout anti-Kremlin slogans as a result of they’re simple prey for the Kremlin’s police.

It’s much more sophisticated for police to arrest 1000’s of people that immediately flip up en masse at polling stations, the bottom zero of Putin’s largest propaganda challenge.

The plan was daring and ingenious, however no one was fairly certain how nicely it will work out, particularly because the Kremlin had threatened individuals with prolonged jail sentences for protesting on the election.

We now have our reply. It seems to have been supported by 1000’s of Russians, primarily in city centres, in a widespread and deep-rooted present of opposition that far exceeded expectations.

The protesters smiled and posed for images earlier than spoiling their ballots with scrawls taunting Putin, glorifying his opponents and calling for peace with Ukraine.

Human rights defenders mentioned police detained dozens of protesters at polling stations however, basically, officers seem to have appeared the opposite method.

The flash mob plan was signed off by Alexei Navalny, the opposition chief, only some days earlier than his dying in a jail within the Russian Arctic and, in some ways, Sunday’s protests had been his revenge.

Yulia Navalnaya, his widow and successor as Russia’s foremost opposition chief, was cheered and applauded when she joined a queue outdoors the Russian embassy in Berlin at noon.

And even earlier than the flash mobs, atypical Russians appeared to have been infused with Navalny’s spirit of defiance, pouring inexperienced ink into poll containers and setting hearth to polling cubicles in the course of the first two days of voting.

After all, the Kremlin’s vote-fixing machine ensured an emphatic victory for Putin, which his slavish propaganda machine will use as justification for his invasion of Ukraine – however the world now is aware of for sure that 1000’s of atypical Russians hate him.

The sight of his enemies celebrating and atypical Russians smiling as they joined flash mob protests will infuriate the Russian president. His post-election “victory” shampanskoye little doubt tasted much less candy on Sunday.

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