One of the ideologues of United Russia, Dmitry Orlov, calls on the authorities to pay close attention to the new wave and start a dialogue with them.
Political scientist, former member of the Supreme Council of United Russia, member of the Public Chamber, Director General of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications Dmitry Orlov outlined 16 theses in which he assesses the unauthorized speeches that have taken place throughout the country and proposes a plan of action to the authorities, although there are still more questions than answers:
1. "We do not know the country in which we live." This phrase by Yuri Andropov characterizes well what happened in Russia on January 23, 2021. Why did the protest over the detention of Navalny turn out to be so large-scale, massive and widespread - for the first time in many years? To respond effectively, one must understand the mood of the population, in general, and each of the significant protest groups. Good to understand.
2. We need a detailed "picture of the motives" of the protest - deep motives. I don’t think that in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Ufa, Krasnodar, Izhevsk or Barnaul these motives are identical. Otherwise, the demands, slogans and even tactics of the protesters in different cities would not differ so dramatically. I don’t think these motives coincide with Navalny’s pattering calls or watching a famous film. APEC conducted traditional protest research in the fall. We assumed that protest activity in 2021 will grow, but that “labor” and, in general, socio-economic protest will prevail. I am sure that our hypothesis is correct now. But how exactly and to what extent did dissatisfaction with their own situation prompted people to participate in Navalny's actions?
3. The protest has shifted to the regions. Why? Why are the obvious leading cities - specifically Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk? Why did the protesters take to the streets of other, "prosperous", large cities (for example, Kazan and Krasnodar), traditionally not distinguished by protest activity? Why - for the first time in many years - did the protest also cover cities with a population of 100-500 thousand people?
4. The protest was not teenage. Minors at rallies, according to a well-known study, were only 4%. Three main age groups of participants are obvious: 18-24 years old (25%), 35-45 years old (37%) and 36-46 years old (15%). These groups, by the way, are well visible in the study of numerous video materials. Each of them, I'm sure, has its own motives.
5. The protest has become radicalized. Attacks on police officers are the most troubling, but not the only symptom of this. The protesters are trying to beat off the detainees, more boldly determine and correct the routes of movement of convoys and groups on the spot, break through the police cordon. This is a serious problem.
6. The list of participants has been updated. 42% of protesters attended the rallies for the first time. The real motives of the "neophytes" can answer the question of why the protest was so large-scale. It is also necessary to identify real mechanisms for mobilizing for rallies, including funding activists and network leaders. I do not think that Navalny's appeals, the actions of his headquarters and network activity could provide such a depth of penetration.
7. Navalny is the leader of the protest, but not the leader of the national opposition. The scale and nature of the shares on January 23 only confirmed this.
8. The police acted generally adequately. However, the excesses were quite noticeable, which, however, was primarily due to the scale of the protest: there are frankly few specially trained employees in small towns.
9. A blow to the provocateurs. It is necessary to react extremely harshly (including after the actions) to the actions of those protesters who attack police officers and cause damage to health and property (in this sense, the episode with a car with an AMP number on Tsvetnoy Boulevard is especially indicative). It is clear that some of these people may be trained militants who must be identified in advance.
10. Police responsibility. It is necessary to prosecute police officers who clearly violate the law and job descriptions. The incident in St. Petersburg (a riot policeman unmotivatedly kicked an elderly woman) is the most revealing episode of this kind. The check, as far as can be judged, has already begun. At the same time, the police monopoly on violence must be strictly observed: "volunteers" and "vigilantes" of various kinds are a direct path to lawlessness and a fall in confidence in the authorities.
11. To adjust the work of the authorities in social networks. We can talk about this for a very long time, but we will confine ourselves to one simple remark.
12. To adjust the work of the authorities with young people. In my opinion, it is almost pointless to discuss the creation and activation of pro-government youth organizations. More important are the motives that encourage residents of large cities under 30 to support Navalny's actions and their "socialization." It's not just about job availability and salary levels, but also about the communities and communication mechanisms in which they are involved.
13. Build a permanent dialogue between the authorities and protest-minded groups. The solutions can be different, the main thing is not to repeat the mistakes caused by the “one-channel” communication (“we work with those who want to work with us” is a comfortable approach for inflexible people, but fundamentally wrong approach, especially in a crisis situation).
14. Build a permanent dialogue between the authorities and the expert community. Including those who are critical of her.
15. Carry out the Duma campaign calmly. The authorities must demonstrate clarity of intentions and loyalty to their own political planning - with a certain degree of flexibility, of course. According to the latest FOM survey, United Russia’s electoral rating rose from 28% to 32%, while the willingness to vote for new parties fell from 16% to 7%. Therefore, the “conservative” scenario (45/45, “patriotic consensus” in parliament) may well be realized. It is clear that the authorities will now be pressed harder, but it is not worth giving in to the pressure. On the contrary: without abandoning the dialogue and even stimulating it, we must stand our ground. And remember that “big”, national public demand and street protest (and even more so campaigns on telegram channels and in general on social networks) are two big differences.