Global Politics

A Russian passing through Ukraine is inspired by the protests, and a bit jealous

White Ribbon Protests.jpg

An activist holds white ribbons, the symbol of the opposition movement, during a protest on Moscow's Red Square March 24, 2013. The action was organised to show solidarity for these arrested at opposition rallies in May 2012.

Credit:

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

In Russia, both the government and its citizens are watching the protests in Ukraine closely.

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In 2011 and 2012, thousands of Russians demonstrated in Moscow and cities throughout the country. The protesters wore white ribbons to show their support for fair elections. Russians saw the inevitable re-election of Vladimir Putin as a sign that the election campaign was not fair.

Svetlana Kolesnikova was a protester in the White Ribbon movement. She also happened to be in Kiev last week on business.

Kolesnikova says she is inspired by the protestors in Kiev. She is impressed at how Ukrainians are taking responsibility for their lives and voicing their opposition to the Ukrainian government. 

"I'm happy for them. I'm jealous in that I would like to have the same amount of people and the same quality of protests [in Russia]," Kolesnikova says.

But she doesn't think large protests are likely to happen anytime soon in her country. She says many Russians are fed propaganda to believe that Russia is the greatest country on earth. So how could anybody complain about living in Russia?

Kolesnikova also says most Russians just don't see the point of street demonstrations. “Maybe they were in the big protests once or twice and they say, 'Why would I go there again? It’s useless.’”

Kolesnikova doesn't know what it will take to shake this attitude, but she says if Russians were to gather like Ukrainians are now doing, Russians could "do anything."