Monday, February 28, 2022

Russia: In a cloud of fear

Russian people could only demonstrate - but this is very dangerous, says the opposition journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza: On Sunday he laid flowers at the spot where Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow seven years ago. Russia: In a cloud of fear By Silke Bigalke, Moscow - 2 hrs ago Citizens and members of the opposition hardly dare to show their protest at Putin's attack on Ukraine. But the power apparatus is also nervous: downtown Moscow is full of police and barricades, little things are enough to get people arrested. In a cloud of fear It is the first time that Elena Igorevna came to the big bridge over the Moskva for the anniversary. "I'm doing this for my conscience," says the pensioner, then she uses the word banned in Russia: "Because of the war." She brought three orange roses wrapped in brown paper. "I hope they don't conquer Kyiv," she says quietly. Then she quickly runs on to the other side of the river. She had previously laid her flowers where Boris Nemtsov died exactly seven years ago, barely a hundred meters from the Kremlin, with several bullets in the back. If the opposition figure were alive today, one thing is certain: he would be at the forefront of protests against Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. That's why Yelena Igorevna came on Sunday, that's why other Muscovites are coming along the narrow sidewalk over the wide road bridge. It's not a lot of people. But every now and then someone stops where the photos of Boris Nemtsov have been hanging on the parapet for years, puts down flowers and then quickly moves on. Dozens of journalists waiting on the bridge take pictures of everyone who ventures here. Everything is cordoned off with bars, emergency services are standing in front of the entrances to the bridge and are asking people to disperse. Several police buses are waiting in front of the Kremlin to warn those arrested. "We couldn't not come," says Dasha, her two friends shake their heads in silence. "In Kyiv," says the young woman, "there are people who are very close to us. I'm afraid for them." She's in tears, she can't say more. "It's hard to say what mood prevails in society," explains Pjotr, a young IT technician. His friends and relatives are dejected. They all wish that the Russian soldiers could go home - and of course the Ukrainian ones too. Then he thinks of the sanctions: "Maybe it sounds banal, but our life will be different now - poor, terrible, different from the life we ​​are used to." Many worry about repression and the economic future It is already difficult to find an ATM in Moscow that still dispenses money. Many Russians are not only worried about the economic future. "I'm really scared now, I'm waiting for huge repression," writes a Russian journalist in a private message, "I'm in shock," a friend from Moscow. "I pray for my mother and my brother in Ukraine," writes an acquaintance from Khabarovsk. Anyone who is critical of the Kremlin had expected that if Putin wages war against Ukraine, he will also close the last tiny spaces in Russia for people with their own opinions. A short drive through the city center shows just how nervous the apparatus of power actually is. There are water cannons in a side street near Pushkin Square, where a few thousand people demonstrated last Thursday. Every day there are small protests in different cities. The civil rights portal OWD-Info counts more than 5,500 people since the outbreak of war. According to civil rights activists, 2000 should have come to this on Sunday alone. The censorship authority Roskomnadzor threatens media that use the word "war" to block their websites. The Novaya Gazeta and the online broadcaster Doschd are affected. Putin's apparatus of power would like to sell his attack to the Russians as a "special operation" without victims. An elderly woman is later arrested at the Nemtsow Bridge only because the paper bag she brought with her says "No war". Three security guards take them to the Awtosak, the prisoner transporter. "The only thing the Russian people can do is to demonstrate, and that entails very serious dangers," opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza said at the bridge where his friend Nemtsov was shot. He reminds that Russia is an autocracy, people cannot vote their government out of office and fewer and fewer independent media inform them about the real situation.