(2 March 2013) There were two marches in Moscow Saturday, one put on by a small opposition force and the other by pro-Kremlin activists. Both rallies were planned for 2pm starts but at different locations. Planned for months, the pro-Kremlin “March of the Children“, was attended by about 12 thousand participants and began at the metro station “Kropotkin.”
At the pro-government rally if you could have heard the interviews with marchers, it was no time to self-identify as an American. The march concluded with a series of speeches in which the audience was told that Americans adopt Russian children for the harvesting and sale of organs and for pedophilia.
One speaker said that American families are not required to give their full names in order to adopt a Russian child, the only requirement being to list themselves as “parent-1” and “parent-2” for legal adoption. That is kind of silly as the adoption process was done in Russia and you can only imagine the stir had an adoptive family tried to list themselves in that fashion. But in the new cold war, facts and common sense are irrelevant.
The march was well organized with marchers bussed in from all over which makes one wonder why they couldn’t gather up 12 thousand supporters in Europe’s biggest city without having to bus in participants from hours away. Unlike opposition marches which have a “homegrown” feel, these placards were professional and mass produced; marchers were given placards and materials as they entered the staging area. This is eerily similar to the pro-Putin marches prior to the election last March.
There were plenty of police at the pro-government march too, but it looked and acted more like a police escort to protect the participants.
Meanwhile across town there was a much smaller opposition march but this time is was not against the Putin election but rather to protest recent actions taken by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. During his tenure since October 2010 Mayor Sobyanin has removed many street kiosks which not only provided jobs for small businesses but were a lifeline to aged apartment dwellers who don’t have the ability or transportation for shopping at large corporate supermarkets further from their homes.
The mayor has begun to restrict parking and hiked parking fees, angering just about anyone with a car. Many of his actions are aimed at improving Moscow’s image in preparation for the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi.
The authorities totally misjudged the small number of marchers for the opposition rally.
Unlike the pro-government rally which was given a permit months ago, the opposition permit was granted just days prior to the event and they were met by buses filled with police, heavy KAMAZ trucks with OMON troops, a line of “paddy wagons”, and several military trucks, along with FSB agents in civilian clothes for what some observers have estimated at nearly 2,000 government police to handle and estimated 2,000 opposition marchers.
Police then blocked a part of the march route which had been approved by the city so the event could not continue to it’s final destination without breaking up into even smaller groups.
Meanwhile at the staging point of the pro-government march there were a few opposition members holding signs calling the Duma members who voted for the anti-abortion bill подлецов (“scoundrels”). They were quickly arrested although they were standing to the side and maintaining a silent protest.
It is all very ironic as orphan children in Russia are truly castaways as society has chosen dump unwanted children and historically only a small minority of Russians have wanted to adopt a child of someone else.