The above photo, part of a photo report by Ridus, shows the Anti-Orange protest at Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow on February 4th. Does that look like 35,000 people to you, let alone 20,000 or 15,000? Because those were the most commonly cited figures in the Western media, apart from those cases where they ignored them altogether (The Guardian) or even tried passing them off as a ANTI-Putin rallies (e.g. Le Parisien).
Let’s now try to get at the real figures. Attendance at Bolotnaya was respectable; not as high, probably, as the 75,000 or so at Prospekt Sakharova in December, but the photographer Ilya Varlamov’s estimate of 50,000-70,000 is eminently reasonable (reasonable estimates of turnout at the original December 10 rally there range from 30,000 to 60,000). Ridus estimates a lower 25,000-30,000. But regardless of whether the real numbers were closer to 25,000 or 70,000, it is certainly well short of the organizers’ figure of 120,000 that was typically uncritically quoted in the Western media. For it’s not quite dying away, but Navalny’s promise to get one million people onto the streets wasn’t fulfilled either.
RIA has an app that tries to measure rally attendance by calculating areas and crowd densities. They estimate 53,600 for Bolotnaya and 117,600 for Poklonnaya. Back in December, Novaya Gazeta estimated 102,000 for Prospekt Sakharova counting not maximum attendance but the total number of people who arrived and left; the range for max attendance is 60,000-80,000, i.e. 60%-80% of the total figure. The figures quoted by the police on this basis for Poklonnaya is 140,000; applying the same adjustment gives max attendance of 85,000-115,000.
The other two Meetings on February 4th were complete flops. Zhirinovsky got 1000-3000 people, while the liberals-only Meeting with Borovoy and Novodvorskaya and co. got 150-200 despite that they had permission for 30,000.
Anyone, no matter how you spin it, it’s undeniable that the pro-Putin Meeting enjoyed substantially higher attendance than the Bolotnaya one – at least half as much again, and probably double or even triple. So no wonder that the liberals, abetted by the Western and the Russian liberal media, are trying to discredit the former by saying they were all state workers bussed in on the threat of firing. There are anecdotal accounts of this and there’s little doubt some are valid. But do they account for the majority? Probably not. From the videos, they do not look like an unenthusiastic bunch; the speakers enjoy many cheers, and chants of “Glory to Russia” are eagerly taken up.
Ignoring, misrepresenting, and trying to discredit the massive rallies in support for Putin, and in Moscow of all places – the bastion of liberalism in Russia – isn’t going to make it all go away. But it is going to make his supporters angry and all the more determined to vote for him one month hence.
Others odds and ends.
- Ad for the Anti-Orange Meeting
- Dystopian scenario of what will happen to Russia if Putin vanishes. EDIT: New link because the democratic heroes at Google decided to censor the old one.
- Kurginyan, main organizer of Anti-Orange meeting, speaking at Poklonnaya.
- Aleksandr Dugin.
- A man at the Poklonnaya protest explains his reasons for going. And another one.
- Now on to patriotic music instead of all that political nonsense.
- There IS occasional impartial piece in the Western media that covers both sides, such as this and this, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule.
- Doku Umarov, the leader of the terrorist Caucasus Emirate, comes out in support of the liberal malcontents. With friends like this…
- LGBT activist allowed to speak at the St.-Petersburg, roundly booed by intensely homophobic liberal audience. Maybe they they and the Islamic radicals deserve each other?
- Navalny goes over to the dark side. (Look at the hand)))
- True Russian patriots.
- Prokhorov: “I came to the Meeting as a citizen, not as a Presidential candidate.” (pay attention to the photo)
- So it’s true. Latte-sipping liberalsactually do dislike Putin! Almost half of them would vote for Prokhorov.
- List of political prisoners opposition demands pardon: Khodorkovsky and Lebedev (who’s surprised?), Arakcheev (waiting for ECHR ruling under chargers of murdering Chechen civilians), and Osipova (political activist whose 10 year sentence for drugs actually is suspicious).
- Non-related: Did Berezovsky poison Badri, the Georgian tycoon? And rendition a US lawyer for torture in Belarus?
Update: Channel 1 has a balanced report on the Poklonnaya meeting. Look at 1:10 and on for confirmation of the 100,000-scale of the meeting.
(h/t Alexandre Latsa)