The Deep Cold of Russian Democracy
I'm beginning to think that a major contributing factor to the relative weakness of Russian democracy is the awful weather in that country.
Tens of thousands of Russians protesters came out for the awkwardly-titled "March of Millions" event in Moscow the other day. The protesters were demanding Russian President Vladimir Putin's resignation (Seriously, good luck with that folks).
They came despite thundershowers and a torrential downpour. One wonders what they could have achieved in terms of popular support on a pleasant sunny afternoon. Maybe millions would have actually showed up, after all. We'll never know.
In February, similar protests went up against freezing temperatures close to minus-20 Celsius. While I have endured a bone-cracking minus-35, even a soul-destroying minus-45, anything close to minus-20 ain't exactly pleasant by comparison. It certainly is the last thing you want for a day of political protest. That's "sitting by the radiator at home with a cup of hot chocolate" weather.
It's hard enough to make the case for an only-tentatively democratic ruling regime that they need to fundamentally change when your protest is a million-strong. Tens of thousands just won't cut it, particularly when much of the country is still benefiting from an energy and mineral boom that has most citizens thinking about how to spend their money, not how to change things up.
Of course, there are plenty of cold countries that are happily democratic and experience the opposite of Russia's kleptocratic levels of corruption. But the Nordic countries of Western Europe are geographically small and extremely wealthy, factors that tend to mitigate against the cultivation of power-mad would-be Czars. And Canada never had to undergo a painful transition from tyranny to democracy; it's always had a parliamentary tradition and a democratic outlook.
With little democratic tradition behind them, the protesters face an uphill battle; one that will have to be continued under the least comfortable conditions.
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist