A young Russian opposition: they are tired of Putin

When Alena Hlistunova need a break, she sneaks through the window of his office on the roof. To the right rise the cooling tower of the power plant on the left are market halls are behind high-rise buildings, and then, in a haze, trees, taiga. Hlistunova love this look, and she often puts pictures of him in the Internet: the industrial charm of the snow and the rays of the sunset, scenery to fight, hard, risky and with no sure chance of success.

22-year-old Hlistunova runs a small office in the East of Tomsk, a city of about 600 thousand inhabitants located 3.5 thousand kilometers East of Moscow. This is the local Outpost of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Khlistunova, who previously worked as a journalist, and her colleagues painted a wall in the color of the campaign — turquoise, and hung the slogans of Bulk in the frame: “Economic development, not political isolation,” written there, “to Trust people, not to solve all Moscow” or “a Decent life for all, not wealth for the 0.1%”.

Opposite hangs a photograph of Navalny looks so presidential, like he’s already became an official candidate in the presidential elections to be held next spring. But for this you have to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to put aside a guilty verdict in one trial, with which the Kremlin is protected from corruption fighter. For this purpose, according to the calculations of the opposition, the pressure on the rulers in Moscow should be so great that they will have to allow Navalny to the election to boost its own legitimacy.

Therefore, Navalny launched his campaign in December, while President Vladimir Putin has not yet announced whether he is going again to participate in them. Since Bulk now sits once again under arrest, he travels around the country and opens new offices of the election campaign as one that is in the University town of Tomsk. Bulk primarily support young people, and about one sixth of the population here are students. Office available to his supporters for free.

But as soon as Hlistunova in mid-March announced its opening, it became clear what kind of obstacles they have to fight. She and her assistant in the morning are unable to leave their apartments: doors were sealed with foam. Friends helped to scrape the foam and released them. Both cars were smeared with paint, the exhaust pipe poured foam, and slashed the tires. The investigation was launched reluctantly and then stopped. Navalny came by plane, he was met by demonstrators loyal to Putin, then he made a speech in a rented room in Tomsk, which was filled with 200 guests. Then the police released hall because of alleged threats to bomb. She was discovered as the one who was calling with threats.

The volunteer was beaten by security forces

While supporters of Navalny believe that things could get worse: in Moscow, a young volunteer was severely beaten by security forces, in Irkutsk men with baseball bats beat the son of the landlord of the office rented for the campaign. In Krasnodar, a group of pensioners, which calls itself the “Army of Putin”, repeatedly attacked the campaign office. Constantly undergoing detention and initiating a case against Navalny supporters. After two major demonstrations against corruption, during which Navalny brought to the streets tens of thousands of Russians, the nervousness of the rulers increased. Especially because the center of gravity of the protests appeared in regions where generally all is quiet.

As in Tomsk. There in 2015, has sparked protests removal of an independent television channel TV 2 from cable network. Now Hlistunova and its people have achieved a resolution of the demonstrations the Bulk, in contrast to many other cities. In March, according to the TV channel TV-2, which now broadcasts only via the Internet, the demonstration came at least 1.5 thousand people. On the official channels it was only about 400 because their goal is to discredit the demonstrations after the June demonstrations, which, according to TV-2, came at least a thousand residents of Tomsk. State television claimed the protesters to show for it for about three euros.

Hlistunova told that its very annoying especially the unification of the media; even in a formally independent news Agency, where she worked until March, there was no freedom of criticism. Even in 2015, the policy has become secondary, says the young woman. However, now it’s a lot of people who said you wanted to help Russians to start living a “normal country”. They concern about increased food prices because the salary of doctors or teachers to live hard. Many young people, dissatisfaction is the interference in the Internet, such as sentences for “extremist” posts. These are issues that are known across all Russia, in problems of Tomsk recognised the problems of the country: in the Siberian region produces a lot of oil, but funneling money to Moscow; the roads are in poor condition, but based the Tomsk mayor’s office, the company gets a lot of money to repair them.

The young man bursts into the office and excitedly asked the Bulk different from the current rulers. Hlistunova speaks of the necessity of change of power, said that Navalny is the only alternative. “But that’s terrible,’ exclaims the young man, is freaking me out!” Bulk trying to start a political discussion in Russia, Hlistunova says: “But while he’s alone because it’s dangerous.” This will change. The young man replies that soon he will be 18 years of age, and in the fall he’s going to be a student, so his name should not appear in the newspaper. He made a warning, because before the June demonstration he showed in the social network of your interest.

Psychologist and Director of the school immediately held a conversation with him: he should not spoil his future. After the demonstration in March in the “Centre for combating extremism” was caused by about 40 of the Tomsk students. Ask them, in their relationship with Navalny, whether among their acquaintances of the volunteers that help policy. Hlistunova sure that bullying is the main reason that of the several hundred applications from potential helpers, in fact, stayed here to work only a couple of dozen people.

TV is wrong

Perhaps the most diligent of them Sergey Chaikovskiy, lanky candidate in a t-shirt reading “Navalny 2018”. He is just 18, and he has gained notoriety for its audacity, jokes and the Internet. Posts Tchaikovsky do not sound as intimidation, but as an awakening. Before, he says, he also believed the stories on TV about Navalny as the “agent of the West.” Then he looked in his revelatory film about corruption in the entourage of the attorney General, I saw a message on Navalny plans to participate in presidential elections and signed up volunteers. His mother, he says, was not happy, but he was able to persuade her. And the fact that they are together, like millions of other Russians, went online to see the film about the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who Bulk at the beginning of March was credited with the possession of luxury real estate in Russia and Italy.

“She understood that television is wrong,” said Tchaikovsky of his mother. After the demonstration at the end of March, he published a recording of the speech teacher at his school that called students for participating in protests “slaves of the Anglo-Saxons” and “liberal fascists”. The video was proof of the helplessness under the influence of the Kremlin myths of the older generation in dealing with young people spinning in the Internet. Independent Russian and international media reported it, the information shaft was so great that teachers will soon have bothered.

Tchaikovsky entered into the taste: he published an open letter calling for the resignation of the government, took on the role of organizer of the demonstration in June, often fighting for the Bulk using a single protest. Such, according to the law, can be carried out without a previous Declaration, but Tchaikovsky is arrested, he again aired online. Friends prophesied to him that he will end up in camps or as Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in 2015 in Moscow opposition politician, said Tchaikovsky. But he wants to ensure that the Russians “lived, not just survived”. For this he wants fall to start studying to be a lawyer and try to pass on the elections to the Tomsk city Council.

Taxi Tchaikovsky’s heading downtown to give a statement on the conduct of electoral events and at the same time to protest, because he knows that the application will be rejected. Because in June the Tomsk team more than anything is not allowed, no bike check-in or handing out balloons. City hall must stop “terrorizing the staff Bulk”, written this time on the poster Tchaikovsky. The driver is skeptical, after a young supporter of the policy shows him the election program, he says that the Bulk of the populist.

At city hall, in the Department of public safety, Tchaikovsky, old friend. Officials, he said, had already offered him an internship and then to write their own failures. When Tchaikovsky with his poster in hand stands in front of the administrative building, passing by the employee who just took statements and documented the action in the photo. Some passers-by watching indifferently, but some — sympathy.