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Oleg Kozlovsky: The successes of the Marches of Dissent

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




Oleg Kozlovsky, Coordinator of the Russian youth movement Oborona and member of the political council of the democratic Solidarnost opposition alliance, takes a retrospective look at the “technological” successes of the united opposition’s Marches of Dissent on his LiveJournal blog:

1. Successful team of leaders: United Civic Front’s Garry Kasparov, Popular Democratic Union’s Mikhail Kasyanov, and National Bolshevik Party’s Eduard Limonov. Each appealed to a different audience: Kasparov to the liberal intelligentsia, Kasyanov to the middle class, and Limonov to the radical left. Unfortunately, the alliance later fell apart.

2. Wide spectrum of themes: The first marches attracted a great number of people of various backgrounds because the demonstrations were not limited to a single main theme. The marches were able to bring together liberals worried about the freedom of speech, businessmen fed up with bureacratic abuses, and people concerned with social problems.

3. Creating an image of strength: The marchers demonstrated great confidence in themselves and their power to change things. They did not shy away from making risky statements in defiance of the authorities, and did not stop even when the police way outnumbered the marchers and used brutal force to suppress them.

4. Professional preparatory work: The organising committee of the Marches of Dissent worked very effectively. The campaign material –newspapers, flyers, and stickers– was well thought out and distributed in time. The official paper and other material of the Marches of Dissent stood out with their quality design. Activists were brought in from regional centres.

5. The money was there: Compared with the rather despondent demonstrations that we have seen lately, the Marches of Dissent were quite costly to organise, yet much less expensive per participant than any opposition conference. The fruits of the marches were much greater than what we have seen since.




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