Tuesday June 12, 2012 – Where’s Putin?

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:

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