Opposition activists, who organized a rally in the center of Moscow yesterday, looked miserable against the background of previous protest meetings held in December 2011 and February 2012. They looked even more miserable against the background of the meetings in Putin's support that gathered nearly 200,000 people.
The meeting "For honest elections" on Pushkinskaya Square gathered nearly 14,000 people, officials with Moscow law-enforcement agencies said. The data from opposition organizations do not differ much from the officially provided information. Vladimir Ryzhkov, the meeting host, said that there were 20,000 people participating, including those, who could not get into the zone of the rally.
The numbers have never been important to representatives of the Russian opposition. They are still certain that it is them who represent the real power in the country. "We are the people, we are Russia, and they are only a miserable bunch of fringe politicians," Ilya Yashin exclaimed. "You are the power here," blogger Aleksei Navalny continued.
The reaction from the crowd did not sound inspiring at all. It seemed that the people who were standing in front of the stage were not aware of their noble mission. It is worthy of note that the goals, which the speakers were declaring, differed from each other a lot.
First and foremost, it goes about the question of further actions. This question has been moving the opposition since December 2011. In general, they can only repeat their requirements over and over again. This could be the reason to explain the decreasing amount of people - why standing in the cold listening to the same things?
Yesterday, the speakers were trying to convince people that Putin's regime was about to fall. Mikhail Kasyanov said that people should continue holding actions of protest and demand new parliamentary elections till March 2013. Aleksei Navalny decided that the final blow against Putin would follow in October 2012. "We will take to the streets and squares of Moscow and we will not go away. Drag us, but we will not leave," Navalny said.
Sergei Udaltsov and Ilya Ponomarev, the leaders of the Left Front, offered everyone not to go anywhere now. "If we continue coming and going every now and then, we are not going to achieve anything. I am not leaving tonight until Putin leaves!" Udaltsov said.
The idea to stay outside in the cold did not seem to be an inspiring one for many. A little bit later, the organizers of the meeting said that the event was over - they asked everyone to leave. Several hundreds of people supported Ponomarev and Udaltsov's initiative not to go home. Many of them stayed out of curiosity. "Sergei, put your hat on!" someone shouted to Udaltsov from the crowd. "I won't put it on until Putin leaves!" the "revolutionary" shouted back.
In general, it appeared that every speaker from the opposition was trying to pursue their own goals. Sergei Mitrokhin, a leader of Yabloko, said that Putin's victory became possible only because he managed to remove the only candidate, who dared to come to recent large-scale meetings in Moscow (on Sakharov Avenue and Bolotnaya Square). Mikhail Prokhorov, a more successful candidate, was trying to recruit his supporters in an attempt to create a new party. "It will be your party that will be free of any leaders. You want changes, so I will do my best for you to see those changes. We will win together," Prokhorov said while being booed.
At the end of the meeting, the organizers urged everyone to continue the actions of protest. The next rally is to take place on March 10th. "We must take as many people as possible into the streets of Moscow. We will come again," Vladimir Ryzhkov said.
Most likely, they will. On the one hand, the number of people taking part in the meeting has been decreasing. On the other hand, the online opposition activists obtained a platform to speak to their followers directly.
Aleksei Navalny acknowledged that he was tired of answering the questions about the long-awaited "victory of democracy." He admitted that the opposition overestimated its own forces a little. According to him, the opposition believed that they would have the support of the whole country. However, the elections proved the opposite. "We believe that we will succeed sooner or later," he said.