Today is Russia Day, the national holiday that commenced in 1992, presumably to replace May Day. It’s also the day of the planned anti-Putin rally – which the planners negotiated for weeks to get permission to hold, and for which Putin approved new legislation that fines demonstrators hundreds of dollars if they step out of line. I’m feeling wary, but I’ve been on enough demonstrations to know when things are about to turn ugly. It’s supposed to gather from 3-6pm at Pushkin Square, so we go there for 2:30 and wait.
En route; heroic Soviet women workers building the metro:
There are stacks of leaflets for ‘One Russia’, the opposition movement; someone’s handing out different leaflets to those waiting on park benches; and there are dozens of cops in all their different incarnations – individual police cars, mini-buses, and short trucks with giant wheels and metal mesh over the windows, all painted dark green. This must be the place… but we wait half an hour and nobody shows up. I can’t even hear a demonstration coming. Later I read the demonstration left from Sverdlovskaya Street, which perhaps is around Pushkin Square? Over 100,000 people attended but all I saw was a young guy carrying a big Communist flag walking down the street, and the numerous police and soldiers lining the government buildings didn’t molest him. It was disappointing, but that’s the thing about being a traveller: there’s a lack of local knowledge. I couldn’t read the demonstration leaflet I had, and the English-language news item didn’t give precise directions. Chastened, I went back to Lentiseev’s and bought train groceries – at which point the heavens opened, so we went to a bar next door for cheap beer and expensive sushi.
More ceepy baby-brand candy. Its chocolate and wafers are pretty good, but that’s a lot of babies: