The protest outside the Duma was not the first time concerned Moscow residents have gathered to resist Sobyanin’s demolition project. The last round of protests, which were sanctioned by the city, took place May 27-28 and drew some 6,000 people. The first protest, on May 14, was attended by 20,000. There have been several other, more modest protests in districts outside the center.
Despite mounting criticism, the Moscow government has refused to blink. City Hall continues to push its agenda aggressively on the internet, where paid trolls pose as desperate Muscovites in substandard housing. As reported in earlier editions of The Moscow Times, the accounts encourage fellow citizens to vote in favor of the demolition project, churning out posts supporting Sobyanin on Russian social media.
The online campaign may be winning support elsewhere, but those opposed to the destruction have shown little intention of backing down. Tuesday’s march was noteworthy in a country where protests are usually limited to one-man pickets as a rare display of civic activism. It stood out both for its spontaneity and dedication of its supporters.
Rather than fading away in the face of adversity, Moscow’s demolition protests have already shown that the movement is beginning to develop a life of its own.