Maidans everywhere!

So just as I and many others predicted, Russian officials and media sources have already started comparing Electro Yerevan to Euromaidan, and alleging that it’s orchestrated by the United States. It can’t possibly be the 16% increase in electricity prices, as the protesters claim. Surely they are on drugs; drugs that make you protest.

Would that it were only the paranoid Russian officials making this claim, however. Sadly, anti-Kremlin types have also been feeding the fantasy by comparing the protests to Maidan in spite of the fact that these protests have very little in common. For one thing, the cause is really clear and concrete- electric bill hikes. What is more, some sources have told me that in Armenia most people actually believe the Russian version of events when it comes to Maidan. Obviously people might use these protests as a forum for many other grievances, a common practice in many protest movements the world over, but I highly doubt any significant number of people decided to overthrow their government over something as simple as electricity prices.

I guess it’s inevitable that such obsession with “Maidans” is going to cause the Kremlin and its media minions to see every organized protest as a Maidan, including protests aimed at governments Russia sees as hostile. What I find funny, however, is that they never seem to wake up and learn why you don’t see these government-toppling protests in the US, UK, or even basketcase EU countries like Greece. It’s almost as if they have some kind of…immune system against things getting out of hand.

This isn’t too hard to figure out. Take the US for example. You have the Tea Party and Occupy. What happened with both of those movements is that they each had a connection to mainstream politics, though this was certainly more the case for the former. Even with Occupy, however, the Democratic party tried to siphon off votes. Virtually every election you see this debate between radical leftists, the debate as to whether voting makes a difference. A large chunk of people will always find some key issue that makes it worth voting- it could be fear of the opponent’s Supreme Court nominees, food stamps, or reproductive rights. Regardless of how one feels about these arguments, this kind of thing happens, and it works.

Put simply, liberal democracy has a release valve for venting pressure. Also the relative lack of censorship is a second release valve, one which is probably much more important. Sure, life can really suck for a lot of people in the States; it did for me. The nice thing, however, is there are just endless ways for you to vent this rage with impunity so long as you don’t commit any illegal acts like threatening bodily harm to public officials. In fact, the Russian government ought to be aware of this given their associations with groups like the Texas secessionists. Somehow the fact that this group is actually allowed to freely disseminate its message is totally lost on the “geopolitical experts” who think they’ve found a useful 5th column in the States, and it is precisely that freedom that keeps groups like that from getting any serious influence.

Russian society doesn’t have that release valve, which is part of the reason why its elite are constantly quaking at any protest movement that successfully removes a government. Hopefully Armenia isn’t like that. It would be better if Electro Yerevan doesn’t turn into a Maidan. So long as the government is cool-headed and makes an effort to respond to protesters’ just demands, and so long as they don’t take boneheaded advice from their Eurasian Union partner, this protest movement could be over in days. That being said, those of us not on the Kremlin side don’t do anyone any favors by comparing this to Maidan.

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14 thoughts on “Maidans everywhere!

  1. Callum Carmichael

    I’m trying to think of a drug that could actually make people go out and protest. We’ve established that it can’t be something like Heroine, which makes you useless to the world for a few hours. Given the Vatnik’s fondness for Putinka, it can’t be alcohol either.

    So what does that leave? Marijuana? But weed makes you really hungry. You would never get a bunch of stoned people to come out and protest! Not… unless someone… gave them cookies… Oh no.

    Everything I knew is lie. I am just puppet.

    Reply
  2. Shalcker

    Well, the right kind of protests (ones that actually aim to change things they protest against rather then change government) usually request giant concessions, show that they can be talked with, then settle for something less.

    The government change ones see any attempt of compromise as weakness and escalate their demands.

    And it’s pretty clear which one is happening in Armenia at this point. Because government indeed responded, went to them and asked them to produce spokesperson(s) for talking to president directly to see what can be done… and they refused.

    …and there is already video of one of protest leaders meeting with US ambassador around 24th.

    …and then there is that Lifenews interview where protesters held placards “Россия-24 иди в жопу” … placards written in Russian about Russian channel on a protest about local electricity costs? come on…

    Reply
    1. Shalcker

      Though re-checking video is from another recent incident in another country; the rest seems true though.

      Reply
    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      They have those signs about the Russian media because the Russian media immediately started making comparisons to Maidan and claiming that the US orchestrated the protests.

      People tend to get angry when you pretend that they don’t have any agency.

      Also who determines if a protest has “reasonable” demands? Did Occupy or the Tea Party have reasonable demands?

      Reply
  3. Asehpe

    “Russia creates Russophobia”.

    Yes, one might almost think they’re doing it on purpose, as some kind of means to an end… (By the way, note that most Kremlinbots would accuse you of trying to justify what you say with an article from an “obviously biased and Russophobic” source, RFERL. What is your usual defense against that?)

    In fact, come to think of it — why not write someday a how-to-defend-yourself-against-Kremlinbots manual? I’ve read somewhere that the Russian troll army has something like that (quick answers to be given to any argument they see online); why not the standard answers to “but why do you read RFERL?” and other similar accusations…

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      It seems to me that in this case, RFERL would have an incentive to support the idea that the protest is like Maidan. After all, it’s part of the vast, worldwide conspiracy to overthrow governments surrounding Russia. For some reason they haven’t succeeded in Belarus, even though Lukashenko himself seems ready to turn on Putin if he could reasonably expect protection.

      As for how to deal with trolls- I generally say block them. If they’re actual troll factory workers they aren’t there to debate. I can write something about some general tactics though.

      Reply
  4. Asehpe

    Thanks! I had missed that one.

    With the Confederate flag being lowered in South Carolina and elsewhere, it seems the Americans took your advice to heart. I’m somewhat surprised by this development, though maybe I shouldn’t be — that church shooting was particularly despicable and clearly racist, despite FoxNews comments to the contrary (‘anti-Christian feelings’, my gluteus maximus…)

    Reply
  5. Asehpe

    By the way, I just saw your tweet about Russia not helping Greece. Do you think they wouldn’t? I could see Putin helping Greece just to spite the West — to show himself as an ‘alternative’. Do you think he wouldn’t have enough money for that?

    Reply
  6. A.I.Schmelzer

    Russia did not believe that the Greeks would actually follow up on any promises they made because they probably cant even if they tried to.

    Secondly, the EU has Greece in thumbscrews, Greece cannot actually accept Russian bribes/incentives, since nothing Russia can credibly offer is completely outmatched by the thumbscrew the Germans/EU can unleash.

    Thirdly, at least the SVR, correctly in my pov, believes that Greece is not “for Russia to win” but “For Brüssels/Berlin to lose”. They will not stop their “EU partners” from making dumb mistakes and other then “compassion for the greeks” (compassion and SVR yeah right) there is no reason for them to stop the EU-Greece trainwreck.

    Reply

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