How to assess the success of an operation that is inherently delicate to quantify? This Sunday, the supporters of Alexeï Navalny have chosen a mode of action unprecedented in Russia: a “flash-mob” inspired by the heart mimed by Navalny in the direction of his wife Yulia during her conviction, on February 2, to two years and eight months in prison. “February 14 at 8 p.m. sharp, offered all the social networks affiliated with the opponent, go down to the courtyard of your building. You will find all your neighbors there who think like you. Together, form a heart with the lamps of your mobile phones and share the photo on social networks. A few minutes. No police. No danger. ”
Keep the pressure on the regime
In view of the violence deployed by the Russian police during the major demonstrations at the end of January, the idea was quite attractive. During the day on Sunday, over the eleven Russian time zones, photos have invaded Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, coming from all over Russia. The associated hashtag, “Love is stronger than fear”, quickly rose to the top of Russian trends on Twitter, with nearly 20,000 messages mentioning it. But what to do with this statistic? Is it representative of a real tidal wave? Difficult to draw conclusions.
If the objective was an indisputable show of force, it is difficult to speak of success. For each triumphant post by an account close to the opposition, there will be a photo of an empty building courtyard accompanied by a sarcastic comment by an anti-Navalny account. Naturally, for their part, retweeting and commenting on each photograph with enthusiasm, those close to Navalny cry victory. The attitude is fair game, in line with the strategy displayed last week by Leonid Volkov, lieutenant of Alexey Navalny in exile in Europe: maintain the pressure on the regime by keeping the mobilization alive, hold out until the summer and parliamentary elections to take to the streets. And at the same time, obtain the maximum number of individual sanctions from abroad targeting key figures in the Putin system in an attempt to reveal loopholes.
Panicked reaction in circles of power
But perhaps it is more relevant to measure the success of Operation Love is Stronger than Fear by the panicked reaction it seems to have provoked in circles of power. The prosecution declaring that these meetings in the courtyards of buildings fall under the ban of mass gatherings without authorization. A Russian deputy proposing to legislate to ban it, evoking “People who come home from a hard day’s work and are embarrassed by lamps held up in their faces.” Another compared it to the action, during the siege of Leningrad, of infiltrated traitors who brandished lamps skyward to guide Nazi bombers. The multiple cases, reported on social networks, of universities taking measures to ban any form of demonstration on February 14. The FSB reporting threats from the Islamic State group that would target, as if by chance, precisely these gatherings. All in a context of ever-growing pressure on Alexeï Navalny himself, at the heart of a trial that turned absurdly for “slander” against a veteran. Twice postponed after the hearing turned into a rat race, the verdict is now scheduled for February 16.
Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.
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