From his chair in sociology, Ildous Yarouline had never seen anything like it. Professor at the University of Khabarovsk, this dean of political science has been observing for nearly a month the unprecedented protests shaking this large city in the Russian Far East. On Saturday, some 20,000 residents gathered again, both to support their suddenly arrested ex-regional governor Sergei Fourgal and, more broadly, to protest against the Kremlin regime of Vladimir Putin.
Unprecedented demonstrations. “These crowds are very colorful. Over the weeks, their composition changes: the young and the oldest are the most mobilized; the others join the movement when they can but, while supporting more or less, hesitate to invest more ”, analysis Ildous Yarouline, 65, of whom around 40 spent in Khabarovsk. “The authorities did not expect a protest of this magnitude. Even if the movement is running out of steam, the groundswell is there to last. “
“The shock of the governor’s arrest was the catalyst”
For two years, in this border city of China on the banks of the Amur River, the ras-le-bol had risen among the some 600,000 inhabitants: drop in income, exasperation against Moscow’s hold on the region, weariness in the face of power lies … “Against a background of socio-economic difficulties, the shock of the governor’s arrest was the catalyst for this anger and frustration”, insists Ildous Yarouline. But, according to the sociologist, this is not a simple epidermal reaction.
“Khabarovsk demonstrators are proud to be at the center of national political news. It is a new stage in a profound movement which, here and there, is emerging in Russia. After the protests in Arkhangelsk against a waste factory, in Yekaterinburg against the construction of a cathedral, in Moscow against unopposed local elections, a new civil society emerges. She no longer wants the paternalistic system imposed by the Kremlin. “
More popular than Putin
The slogans from the crowds this weekend in Khabarovsk speak volumes about this determination. ” Freedom “, “Fourgal at home! “, chanted the demonstrators over a march that has become a Saturday ritual since the governor’s incarceration on July 9. That day Sergei Fourgal was brutally arrested outside his home and sent to Moscow. He suddenly finds himself charged with murder in a fifteen-year-old case.
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