What I found in the process, however, was something that had not popped up in my previous searches for archival material documenting Putin's animus toward Hillary Clinton.
Lo' and behold this!
With an embedded article from VOA (Voice of America) reporting on the post-parliamentary election demonstrations of December, 2011, this post deserves another look.
What is striking here is the nature of the demonstrations as described by VOA.
Traditionally, opposition movements march under one banner. They wave similar signs, chant the same slogans and follow a recognized leader. For a ruler, it is easy to negotiate with an organized adversary.Well, wow! This raises a few questions.
But the key to understanding what happened on Sakharov Avenue Saturday was the proliferation of handmade signs. A myriad of individuals across Moscow dreamed up their own messages, and then fashioned them on kitchen tables, on office computers, or in copy centers.
Putin is not facing an organized opposition movement. He faces something worse: an atomized, but spreading mood of disrespect and rejection.
In another Kremlin blooper, the President’s twitter account erroneously released a tweet that described protesters as sheep that provide sex.
In an initial reaction, a large bearded man attended the Dec. 10 protest holding a homemade sign. A big red X was painted over a reasonable depiction of a woolly lamb. The caption: “I am Not a Sheep.”
By Saturday, this theme had evolved into a group of five young women and men holding an even bigger sign, reading: “We are Not Sheep.” They were dressed, head to toe, as rabbits.
Other protesters took aim at Mr. Putin’s charge that the protesters were paid by foreign governments and activated by a secret signal from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Signs demanded: “Hillary, Where is My Money?” “Hillary, I am waiting for my money,” “Let’s bankrupt the State Department.”
One man held a sign announcing: “I am Here For Free.”
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Does any of this seem familiar? Yes.
- The Kremlin was tweeting insults against Putin's adversaries.
- The protestors were creative and made their own signs, some about the tweets and others about the alleged source of the protests.
- The protests allegedly originated from Hillary Clinton's, and therefore U.S. government, interference.
- Putin accused her of paying the demonstrators who struck back by asking for their pay or stating they were there demonstrating for free.
- In spite of it all, Putin was elected amid accusations of vote-rigging and followed by opposition protests and counter-demonstrations of support which some reported they were forced by employers to attend. Others claimed they were paid.
- The entire Gestalt has the appearance of a playbook.
- Somebody gave the playbook to Donald Trump.
There are constitutional differences. Putin had previously served two presidential terms ending in 2008. The Russian constitution permitted another run after a hiatus of sorts. Medvedev had stepped in as president for four years while Putin retained leadership of the party. American presidents may not run again after serving two terms. The Russians knew very well whom they were getting in 2012.
While the Russian demonstrations were characterized as "atomized," implying, to some extent, spontaneous on diverse issues, our marches have been organized around issues by groups with permits. We have, however, like the Russians, been accused of being paid for demonstrating. Some signs in our marches have stipulated that we do this for free in own own free time.
Our next march, the March for Truth, is scheduled for June 3. Again the main march will be in D.C. with large marches in other major cities. From the look of the map on this page, many sister-marches have been organized in every state and also in Europe. If you cannot get to a major city, you can find one near you or even organize your own in your area.
We are left, finally, with one last question. Will we end up, as Russia did, under the thumb of the guy we protest?
Since the 2011 protests were against parliamentary elections the people perceived as rigged, Putin was working with a legislature sympathetic to him. We, currently, are in the same boat. We do have the opportunity, with special elections and the mid-terms in 2018, of overturning the majority party in the Senate and the House.
If we do not do everything we can to flip the necessary seats, we can indeed end up with a Congress that will do little if anything to oppose draconian measures the Trump administration proposes.
One of the many issues the Russians protested in 2011 was this, also according to the VOA article.
Others protesters noted that the Kremlin sent condolences to Pyongyang after the death of Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s “Supreme Leader,” but neglected to send condolences to Prague after the death of Vaclav Havel, the anti-Soviet activist and elected President of the Czech Republic.Hillary Clinton, of course, attended Havel's funeral with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Hillary wore a headpiece Havel had an artist friend make for her.
On Sakharov Avenue, named after the Soviet-era dissident, elderly protesters carried black and white photographss of the late Czech President, with the inscription: “Havel Would Be With us!”
As I said at the time of publication:
As far as we know, it does not transmit secret signals. Neither does the State Department have a budget sufficient to pay off all of Russia. It is not known whether Putin’s treasury is large enough to provide tin-foil hats for the populace, but given their mood, we doubt they would wear them. More likely, if that guy with the Picasso display is any barometer, they would find some artful way to use the tin foil to fire back at Putin.Right, but they ended up with the dude anyway.