(Christian Science Monitor) Moscow police carted away about 70 people outside a Moscow district court Monday, charging most of them with holding an unauthorized gathering.
It was a fairly regular occurrence in Moscow, where police have zero tolerance for public meetings that haven't been granted explicit permission from the authorities to take place. But as they were being dragged away, some of the protesters shouted something new and potentially incendiary: "Watch out, the Maidan will come here." […]
Ever since the Orange Revolution 10 years ago, which brought the pro-Western government of Viktor Yushchenko to power amid month-long peaceful protests on Kiev's Maidan, the Kremlin has been preparing to crush any attempt to bring a similar revolt to Moscow. Mr. Putin launched a wide crackdown, especially on foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations, whom he blamed for plotting Ukrainian-style revolution at the behest of Western sponsors. He also created a wide network of pro-Kremlin groups, such as the youth movement Nashi, that could be brought into the streets to support authorities in the event of unrest.
When protesters erupted onto the streets of Moscow in December 2011 to oppose allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections, Putin immediately blamed it on then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Though that protest movement has since died down, Russia's State Duma has continued to pass increasingly draconian legislation aimed at curbing street rallies, further cracking down on NGOs and rewriting the definition of "treason" to include almost any interaction with foreigners.
"The view in the Kremlin, in light of recent events, is probably that the measures taken in the wake of the Orange Revolution were not enough," says Nikolai Petrov, a professor at Moscow's Higher School of Economics. He says Putin sincerely believes that protests against his authority are organized by "somebody" other than the protesters, and that contacts between Russians and foreigners need to be scrutinized and tightly restricted to prevent revolutionary contagion. […]
> Read the full article "After Ukraine's Maidan, A Bigger Crackdown in Moscow?" by Fred Weir © The Christian Science Monitor