Monday, April 16, 2007
During this weekend's opposition rally in Moscow, it was impossible to miss the clenched-fist flag that some protestors were waving.
The Russian youth group Oborona has arrived, based on Otpor, the Serbian student movement that led the successful push to topple Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 (that's their symbol at left - Oborona's is identical). Oboron is the Russian word for "defense."
Otpor's success spawned copycat groups like Georgia's Kmara and Ukraine's Pora, which played key roles in the 2003 Rose Revolution and the 2004 Orange Revolution respectively.
Crucially, all three groups received financial and other aid from the U.S. government's National Endowment for Democracy and George Soros's various non-governmental organizations. These are the battlegrounds that "the new cold war" (plug, plug) is fought on.
The fact that the clenched-fist flag is now regularly seen in central Moscow is the clearest sign yet that the opposition is gearing up to follow the Serbian-Georgian-Ukrainian model (falsified elections, followed by mass protests) around the coming Duma and presidential elections.
The Kremlin, which got its nose badly scraped in Ukraine, knows that too, which partly explains the harsh response this weekend.