Гуляния за Навального в день рождения Путина / Marching for Aleksei Navalny on Putin’s Birthday

Navalny march participant

Audio content: Young people in Moscow explaining why they came out to support Navalny at a demonstration.
Visual content: Young protesters and some of the protest memes (ducks).

Video available at TV Rain.

The anti-corruption crusader Aleksei Navalny is running for president of Russia in the election scheduled for March 2018. His campaign is a quixotic one: Putin remains very popular across the country and is expected to run for another six-year term (although he has not yet made an announcement as of mid-November 2017); genuine opposition campaigns are suppressed with legal harassment and state control of the mass media; and Navalny is probably legally barred from appearing on the ballot because of embezzlement convictions in 2013 and 2017. The convictions appear to be politically motivated — the European Court of Human Rights declared the 2013 trial unfair and, in a sort of dark comedy, the Russian Supreme Court obligingly overturned the conviction, only for Navalny to be re-tried and re-convicted in 2017.

Nevertheless, Navalny is running an energetic American-style campaign. Starting in September 2017, he began travelling to weekend rallies in cities all over Russia, organizing them through his network of regional campaign offices. In Russia rallies in public spaces must be approved by the local government. The campaign’s opening series of rallies received this administrative approval, albeit usually for sites on the outskirts of town rather than in the preferred easy-to-reach central locations. Crowds of over 1,000 people came to hear Navalny speak and answer questions in Murmansk, Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, so that over two weeks the politician criss-crossed Russia from the far north to the far east.

On the morning of September 29, however, just as Navalny was headed to catch a train from Moscow to a planned rally in Nizhny Novgorod, he was detained and charged with repetitive violation of the procedure for organizing public meetings. On October 2nd he was sentenced to 20 days in prison. He has since been released and the battle between Navalny’s campaign and its many opponents continues. As local authorities have been more frequently denying outright permits for public meetings, the campaign has taken to to organizing rallies on private property. When such a meeting occurred in Tambov in late October, several local campaign workers were arrested and given short sentences for violating administrative procedures. After a meeting in Irkutsk, the businessman who had offered his privately owned retail space for the rally was arrested. In Kemerovo, the boyfriend of Navalny’s local campaign coordinator was expelled from his university and her mother was fired from her job. Because Navalny is particularly popular among high school and university students, local leaders will sometimes conduct “prophylactic talks” (профилактическая беседа) with young people in advance of rallies, urging them not to be tempted by Navalny’s rhetoric.

The event featured in this post occurred on October 7 in Moscow while Navalny was serving his short sentence in prison. October 7th happened to be Putin’s 65th birthday and Navalny’s supporters ironically marked this event with a number of protest events in major cities. The TV Rain correspondent Vladimir Romensky interviews a few of the Moscow demonstrators. You will see that two of the interviewees are holding duck-shaped balloons, which, as they explain, have become a symbol of opposition and anti-corruption politics as a result of Navalny’s investigations of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, who was found to have a special house for ducks on a pond on one of his vacation properties. The Moscow march was not officially approved, so participants presented themselves as simply being out for a walk along Moscow’s central Tverskaia Street. Only one person was arrested, unlike some of the summer protest rallies where well over 1,000 young people were detained.

For more great language practice related to Aleksei Navalny and his movement, see this post on his speech at an opposition rally in 2015 and this post on nationwide anti-corruption demonstrations in March 2017.


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Navalny march participant 2

Watch the video at TV Rain.


Russian Transcript


Девушка: Потому что мы вышли высказать свое мнение, и пришли чуть-чуть заранее, чтобы увидеть всё, как начинается, как всё разворачивается, да. Мне восемнадцать лет и мои родители полностью меня поддерживают. Моя мама тоже абсолютно разрешила мне выйти на этот митинг и просто меня поддерживает, да. И, собственно, она готова к тому, что и меня задержат и ничего в этом страшного на самом деле нет.

Роменский: С какими лозунгами вы сегодня вышли сюда, вы чего требуете?

Молодой человек:  Ну, освобождения Навального, потому что мы считаем, что его третий административный арест был незаконным. И поздравить с днём рождения Владимира Владимировича.

Роменский: Почему уточки, расскажите?

Молодой человек: Ну, это, как известно, стало в последние годы, в последний год точнее, символом протеста такого, как бы символизирующая, ну, коррупцию Медведева. И уточка стала таким вот символом этого дома для уточки. Кто смотрел фильм, знают.


Пожилая женщина: Я пришла, потому что я хочу поддержать авторитет Навального, потому что я хочу, чтобы были выборы справедливыми и была оппозиция и в парламенте и как…  а…  в выборах президента. Я не нарушаю ничего. Я ни к кому не пристаю. Я не ору, не кричу. Я просто пришла выразить свое мнение. Вот и всё. Ну, я надеюсь, что меня не задержат.


Молодой человек: Я выходил двенадцатого июня также поддержать оппозицию.

Роменский: Вас тогда не задерживали?

Молодой человек: Нет.

Роменский: Многие отмечают то, что сейчас протест становится моложе и моложе. Не могу не спросить, сколько вам лет?

Молодой человек: Семнадцать.

Роменский: Родители ваши в курсе, где вы находитесь сегодня?

Молодой человек: Да, в курсе. И конечно поддерживают.


Девушка: Я хочу, чтобы Россия была свободной. И самое меньшее, что для этого могу сделать, это хотя бы прийти с флагом и постоять в центре Москвы.


[The young man walking with Romensky explains that he thinks any politician with significant support should be allowed to campaign, but instead the people in charge seem to pick and choose who is allowed to enter the political arena.]


Мужчиной с ребенком: Вероятно, не только, конечно, молодые люди выходят — разные. Потому что мы спрашивали у лиц такого среднего возраста и старшего, да: “А вы в курсе, что здесь происходит?” А они такие: “Да, вообще-то, да, в курсе.” Все знают, на самом-то деле. Может быть, не прямо все-все, но очень многие.

Другой мужчина: Чем люди моложе, тем они меньше смотрят телевизор и больше в Интернете. И в Интернете обычно можно узнать правду и понять, что к чему.


Молодой человек: Это такой способ теперь, как бы… я не знаю, протеста: просто выходить на улицу и гулять, потому что мы граждане этой страны, мы имеем право выходить спокойно и выражать своё мнение на улице.


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English Translation


Young woman: Because we came out to express our opinion, and we came a bit ahead of time in order to see everything, how everything is starting, how everything is unfolding, yes. I am eighteen years old and my parents fully support me. My mom also, absolutely, permitted me to come out to this demonstration and she simply supports me, yes. And, specifically, she is prepared for the possibility of them detaining me, and in reality there is nothing at all terrible about that.

Romensky: With what slogans have you come out here today? What are you demanding?

Young man: Well, the release of Navalny, because we think that his third administrative arrest was unlawful. And to wish Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] a happy birthday.

Romensky: Why the ducks, tell me?

Young man: Well, it’s well known that in the last few years, or more exactly, in the last year, that became a symbol of a sort of protest, sort of symbolizing, you know, Medvedev’s corruption. And the duck became this sort of symbol of the house for ducks [which was discovered in a pond at one of Medvedev’s vacation residences]. Whoever saw the film knows what I’m talking about.


Older woman: I came because I want to support Navalny’s standing, and because I want the elections to be fair and I want there to be an opposition in parliament as well as… um… in the presidential election. I am not violating anything. I am not pestering anybody. I am not yelling, not shouting. I simply came to express my opinion. That’s all. So, I hope that they do not detain me.


Young man: I came out on June 12 as well, to support the opposition. [There were anti-corruption protests across Russia on that day, and well over 1000 people were detained.]

Romensky: They didn’t detain you then, did they?

Young man: No.

Romensky: Many people are noting the fact that lately the protests are getting younger and younger. I can’t help but ask, how old are you?

Young man: Seventeen.

Romensky: Are your parents aware of where you are today?

Young man: Yes, they are aware. And of course they support [me].


Young woman: I want for Russia to be free. And the very least I can do for that is to at least come with a flag and stand for a bit in the center of Moscow.


[The young man walking with Romensky explains that he thinks any politician with significant support should be allowed to campaign, but instead the people in charge seem to pick and choose who is allowed to enter the political arena.]


Man with a child: Most likely, it’s, of course, not just the young people who are coming out — it’s various [people]. Because we were asking individuals of a middle and older age, yes; “So are you aware of what is going on here?” And they were like: Yes, generally speaking, yes, we are aware.” Everyone knows, in point of fact. Maybe, not literally everyone, but very man.

Other man: The younger people are, the less they watch television and the more they are in the Internet. And in the Internet usually one can find out the truth and gain an understanding of what is what.


Young man: This is a method of sorts, now, so to speak… of, I don’t know, protest: to simply come out onto the streets and stroll around, because we are citizens of this country. We have the right to come out calmly and express our opinion on the street.

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