I have to admit, I put down my romantic notions about Russia’s future — reluctantly, to be sure, but firmly, about 15 years ago. I don’t think the Great Russian Soul is anything different from the Great Peruvian Soul, and I still don’t believe in the medical properties of strawberry jam.
And yet, every decade or so, something moves me to think maybe my position warrants a review. Sunday was one of those moments. Erroneously called a “flash mob” by a number of news outlets, the protest was anything but. It was a steady, determined, optimistic event featuring Russians from all walks of life, all of whom seemed to be there for no other reason than their belief that they needed to do something concrete to protest against the current political situation.
I spent three hours with the White Ring, and I saw no drunkenness, unpleasantness — no shoving or pushing, or the disorganization that often characterizes public events in Russia. I saw strangers holding hands, drivers leaning on their horns, not out of frustration from a traffic jam, but in support of the human chain formed along the inside of the Garden Ring.
I saw more smiles in Moscow than I’ve seen in a very long time.
Have you been out on the barricades lately? What’s your take on the upcoming elections? Any bets on the outcome?