Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in Moscow, calling for the ouster of President Vladimir Putin, and demanding new elections.
This is just days after President Putin raised the costs of protesting by announcing fines of up to $9,000 (more than the average annual income) for participation in a street demonstration.
The Russian people defied Putin’s expectations (and mine!) that increased costs and risks would deter most people from taking to the streets. Risking both brutal police repression and financial hardship, large numbers of Muscovites nonetheless saw their grievances as so severe and their situation so desperate that protest made a kind of sense. And when there is so much risk, the message is even stronger and more powerful.
When only a few people turn out, it’s harder to convince others to join, but when thousands take to the streets, arrests and repression seem more difficult, perhaps less likely, and the prospects for change seem a little better. Success at mobilization builds upon success. When more people turn out, it’s easier to get more people to turn out.
And we’re not near the end of this story.