Reality: Putin is polling 62% amongst young people, versus 76% amongst the elderly (FOM poll, including people who don’t know/don’t intend to vote), and the event was itself boycotted by all but 2,000 of Moscow’s 15 million people.
The people who did come… did not make for an impressive sight:
In general, things went pretty much as I expected:
In other Russian elections news, Navalny is planning to lead his flock to a new series of protest meetings tomorrow (Jan 28) in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. I don’t expect anything interesting to happen either now or before the elections in general. Navalny will be arrested, probably before he shows up, and will spend a fortnight in jail. 200 people will get arrested. Turnout will not exceed 10,000, the maximum (realistic) estimate for turnout at the last protests on Tverskaya in March 2017. I probably won’t bother showing up to cover the event.
Navalny was eventually arrested, though at the protest, but was soon released and doesn’t even appear to have been charged yet. There were around 250 people arrested throughout the entire country. Turnout in Moscow was 2,000. And I evidently made the right choice not to bother with going there.
Incidentally, while we’re on this topic, I’d like to address another point. When I cover Russian politics, I do so from what I like to think is a pretty sophisticated angle (e.g. age structure dynamics, Russian elections as referendums, etc.). But the narrative put forwards by the Western media – a Dark Lord of the Kremlin vs. plucky young resistance fighters – is a very primitive one, although one with incredible staying power (the basic schema dates to the early 2000s). Now commenter Mr. Hack believes that I am wasting my time on this “chimera” of an election and he might just have a point, if for rather different reasons than what he posits. Basically the Western media is so completely and consistently wrong on this that it would be much easier – and more popular in terms of pageviews – to just relentlessly demolish them and make fun of them, instead of trying to do in-depth original analysis about what’s really going on. But fortunately, I don’t run this blog for the pageviews.