Thousands of Muscovites marched through the streets of the capital Sunday to protest what they see as Russia’s role in fueling the Ukraine conflict, the Moscow Times reports:
As in Moscow’s past protests, statistics of the event varied greatly among different sources. Moscow police estimated that some 5,000 protesters had taken part in the protest, while Russia’s Union of Observers said that more than 26,000 people had in fact taken to the streets. Organizers had hoped up to 50,000 people would turn out to protest Russia’s policies towards Ukraine, which they described as “irresponsible and aggressive.”
One of the key hopes emanating from the Euromaidan movement was that “new faces” would enter politics, thereby broadening citizen participation in democratic politics, according to the report of an international delegation organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI):
The delegation was gratified to see that several political parties espousing “Euromaidan ideals” are participating in the parliamentary elections. In addition, many young civil society activists and journalists who were active on the Maidan have joined the proportional lists of more established parties. Explaining their motivations for entering politics, these young people cited a sense of personal responsibility for the democratic future of their country and a conviction that they can and should have influence over decisions made on their behalf.
“The 2015 local elections and the ongoing campaign for electoral reform may present further opportunities for a new generation of political leaders to emerge,” the report suggests. “These trends offer encouraging evidence that the energy of Euromaidan is being channeled into constructive and sustainable modes of political engagement.”
The calculus on the Kremlin’s side is certainly that if it implants a frozen conflict – similar to the ones in Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia – this will give it in the long run leverage over Ukraine’s development, over its domestic reform process, and over its external international affiliations, according to Dr. Joerg Forbrig, a transatlantic fellow for Central and Eastern Europe at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin:
This calculation doesn’t work 100 percent in light of the Georgian experience for instance, or Moldova. Both Georgia and Moldova have made considerable progress in their association with the European Union despite the fact that both of them have a frozen conflict on their territory. Although there will basically be a frozen state or conflict in the east of Ukraine, this still doesn’t mean automatically that the reform process or the association with the European Union has to be stalled.