Protests in the run-up to Putin's inauguration

Opposition members demonstrated on Sunday in several Russian cities in anticipation of Vladimir Putin's fourth inauguration. Supported by representatives of the pro-Kremlin National Liberation Movement and men wearing Cossack uniforms, the police attacked the demonstrators with truncheons and made a number of arrests. In the view of commentators the state won't achieve its goals with this crackdown.

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Vedomosti (RU) /

Crackdown is counterproductive

The state is not doing itself any favours with its harsh stance, Vedomosti believes:

“As in 2012, Putin's inauguration is accompanied by the brutal breaking-up of opposition protests - this time perhaps even more forcefully than in the past. ... In 2012 the police cracked down because they wanted to stop the spread of protests in which thousands of people were taking part. In 2018 the goal is to demonstrate the state's resolve vis-à-vis a small group of dissatisfied protesters. But the excessive use of violence against the demonstrators, above all against youths and members of the press, could overshadow the inauguration more than the protests themselves.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Increased risk of civil war

The Kremlin was playing with fire when it fuelled confrontations between Cossacks and liberals on the weekend, Der Standard warns:

“The monopoly of power in every state should lie with the security forces and not with costumed national-conservative - or even monarchist - auxiliary forces who want nothing better than to let their aggressive instincts run wild. That, however, is just what we are seeing today in Russia with the Cossack groups. These have nothing in common with their forefathers' love of freedom. It's almost as if someone in the Kremlin wanted to help the opposition cast Putin as an authoritarian czar. The intentional pitting of conservatives against liberals risks escalating the confrontation in an already divided society - to the point of civil war.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Putin's toughest enemies

Russia's youths will make Vladimir Putin's fourth term difficult, the Tages-Anzeiger predicts:

“Thanks to the smartphone and the social media they've opened a window into another world. As the banning of messenger service Telegram - which refused to provide the secret service with information on its users - shows, the Kremlin is trying to bang this window shut again in the traditional manner. But it's not that easy. Anyone who's ever tried to forbid a teenager from using a mobile phone knows just how hard that is. And if the police is too harsh with the youths, their parents and grandparents who count among Putin's most loyal supporters could rebel against him. Because this time it's not just a couple of distant opposition figures demonstrating in the name of abstract slogans that many Russians fail to find convincing. It's the country's children, who mean more to the Russians than anything else.”