Not so lonely anymore Here’s what speakers told more than 22,000 Muscovites who gathered on Saturday to demand fair elections in September
On July 20, activists from the Libertarian Party staged a permitted rally on Sakharov Prospect in Moscow to advocate the registration of rejected independent candidates in the upcoming City Duma elections. According to the “Belyi Shchetik” (White Counter) organization, roughly 22,500 people attended the event. The crowd could have been even bigger: law enforcement restricted the number of demonstrators allowed into the public square, stopping protesters at metal detectors (though the police deny these allegations). In his speech during the rally, anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny announced that another protest will take place next Saturday, July 27, outside City Hall, if “all candidates” aren’t registered within the week. Representatives of Moscow’s Election Commission later said Navalny is trying to bully the city’s officials. During the demonstration, police arrested a few protesters, while the event’s organizers handed out whistles, to help amplify the crowd’s anti-Kremlin chants. This rally wasn’t the first this week. Beginning on July 14, candidates rejected by city election officials have joined their supporters for evening protests at Trubnaya Square. Meduza special correspondent Irina Kravtsova attended the July 20 demonstration and recorded some of the most memorable moments.
The text below is direct quotes, though the language in some places has been shortened for clarity.
Anti-Corruption Foundation staff member Ruslan Shaveddinov:
I hate United Russia [the country’s ruling political party]!
Konstantin Yankauskas, Moscow City Duma candidate, 31st Electoral District:
Enough of this outrage! Let the demonstrators through the metal detectors!
[The crowd chants, “Let them through! Let them through! Let them through!” as someone boos.]
Dmitry Gudkov, Moscow City Duma candidate, 5th Electoral District:
Our whole lives are now within their confines. They decide what we should say, what we should watch, write, and think. They’ve boxed us in everywhere. They steal our time! They’re already coming for you! To build a dump in your backyard! To plant drugs on you!
[The crowd boos.]
They’re coming to take away your pension! It’s time to take a stand! Show them that you don’t need their confines. We’ll ask the police together: Let them through!
[The crowd chants, “Let them through! Let them through! Let them through!”]
Elena Rusakova, Moscow City Duma candidate, 37th Electoral District:
The Moscow [Election] Commission must be dissolved! [Commissioner Valentin] Gorbunov must step down!
[The crowd chants, “Gorbunov must go! Gorbunov must go! Gorbunov must go!”]
I call on you to create a unified people’s movement “For Free Elections.”
[The crowd chants, “For free elections! For free elections!”]
Alexander Soloviev, Moscow City Duma candidate, 3rd Electoral District:
They show us this nasty old fart blabbering about worms, but the only worms crawling out of anything are the ones coming out of his head! [Soloviev is likely referring to remarks Vladimir Putin made in early July about the dangers of wind turbines, when the president warned that they shake so violently that worms actually crawl out of the ground to escape the vibrations.]
Vladislav Zhukovsky, Moscow City Duma candidate, 30th Electoral District
I’m in shock! I’m shocked that there are so many of you here! I’m insanely grateful to everyone who came today. Edro v vedro! [United Russia into the bucket, i.e. trash].
[The crowd chants, “Edro v vedro! Edro v vedro! Edro v vedro! Edro v vedro! Let them through! Let them in!”]
Lyubov Sobol, Moscow City Duma candidate, 43rd Electoral District:
This is our city!
[The crowd chants, “This is our city!”]
They told us that the opposition doesn’t have a positive agenda! They tell me that the opposition has no support. [They say] my [candidacy endorsement] signatures are faked — that they include signatures from my sister from the Presnenskiy District [from the same 43rd Electoral District]. Take a look at these people, Mr. Sobyanin! They demand that their candidates be allowed into the elections!
[The crowd chants, “Let them in! Let them in! Let them in!”]
I wouldn’t have taken the stage today, if I didn’t believe we can win. Power to the people! Let us onto the ballot!
Alexey Navalny, head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation:
Could you ban love in Russia? Could handwriting experts ban love? [Sobol’s first name is “Lyubov,” which literally means “love.”] We’ve gathered here today for love and the law! I used to be an exclusive guy. They didn’t let me [compete in elections], and you didn’t see me [on network TV]. But now I’m jealous.
[The crowd laughs.]
At first, they didn’t let in Yashin and Gudkov. And two weeks ago they said the handwriting experts had rejected another 28 people. I started worrying. And now 150,000 people [the number of signatures submitted for independent candidates] — more second-rate people. Suddenly it's feeling crowded!
[The crowd laughs again.]
But I see a big plus in all this: finally, we people of one blood are together. We don’t exist for them. And now look! They notice us, only when it’s time to pay taxes.
But we’re done with taxation without representation. They rejected the people’s candidates, to get their own into office. This is a party of crooks and thieves [Navalny is referring to United Russia], and I don’t want to see it anymore. So I propose a peaceful public compromise: either they register everyone before next Saturday, or next Saturday we stage a protest outside the mayor’s office!
[The crowd erupts and chants, “Let them in! Let them in! Let them in!”]
We released [Ivan] Golunov. But they’re not leaving on their own! In the elections on September 8, we need to crush them. Not a single United Russia member in a single district! Putin is the main enemy of fair elections. Russia without Putin!
[The crowd chants, “Russia without Putin!”]
Yulia Galyamina, Moscow City Duma candidate, 9th Electoral District:
My students are here today. [Galyamina teaches at Moscow’s National Research University Higher School of Economics.] I know that we’re adults here, responsible for the future of young people! I was recently arrested and taken to the police station [on July 14, at a protest]. I didn’t like it there. I don’t want to go there again. I’m against illegal arrests and illegal jailing! We’re not afraid of this, but we are against injustice!
Ivan Zhdanov, Moscow City Duma candidate, 8th Electoral District:
Take out your passports, and raise them above your signs.
[Some people in the crowd hold up their passports.]
Some people ask me why anyone would sit at the same table as card sharps. But I answer: if you don’t catch a cheat red-handed, then you can’t prove he’s a cheat. Now we’ve caught the cheats red-handed! And we’re going to turn the tables!
[The crowd cheers.]
Raise your passport and say, “We are here!”
[People in the crowd raise their passports, and chant, “We are here! We are here! We are here! Let them in! We are here!”]
Mikhail Svetov, member of Russia’s Libertarian Party, unregistered with the Justice Ministry:
I disagree politically with most of those who have spoken here today, but we all want to respect the will of the people! Lustration! [Svetov regularly advocates purging the Russian government of officials and bureaucrats culpable for the actions of the Putin regime.]
[The crowd chants, “Lustration!”]
Do you know how to love? Do you love your people? Do you love your family?
[The crowd yells back, “Yes!”]
Well if you’re capable of love, you should also know how to hate. Are you ready to subject them to lustration?
[The crowd yells back, “Yes!”]
A lot of people still haven’t given upon the authorities’ negotiating capacity. Zhuliki i vory, pyat minut na sbory! [Crooks and thieves, you’ve got five minutes to pack your bags.]
[The crowd chants, “Zhuliki i vory, pyat minut na sbory!”]
Freedom is gained only in the public squares!
[The crowd chants, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”]
Ilya Yashin, Moscow City Duma candidate, 45th Electoral District:
We should be booing this government! [Moscow Mayor Sergey] Sobyanin must go! Putin must go!
[The crowd cheers.]
If they don’t register everyone within the week, we’re coming to City Hall on Saturday! We’ll gather as many people as it takes! Every day!
[The crowd chants, “Every day! Every day! Every day! Every day! Every day!”]
Translation by Kevin Rothrock