Gathering, a Storm in Russia – Dissent and Democracy

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian police detained several hundred people, including chess champion Garry Kasparov, on Saturday as they snuffed out an attempt by opponents of President Vladimir Putin to protest near the Kremlin.

I can\’t imagine something like that happening in India anymore. Thank god for chaotic, true-to-form democracy! My generation has grown up knowing and believing that protests, rallies, gatherings are completely natural. Political protests, Dam protests, Reservation protests-you will never hear police trying to thwart them from even happening. Of course we have seen umpteen incidents where protesters were water cannoned and a few bundled off to lockups when they are literally at the Parliament gates. But allowing a protest to happen is perhaps as sacrosanct as our constitution itself. When this sanctity is breached, you can tell that the state of the nation is in jeopardy.

\”Thanks to the well-coordinated actions of the riot police and Moscow police, we were able to prevent an illegal gathering being carried out,\” he said.

When the authorities begin to get scared of \’gatherings\’ then you know that they truly have something to be afraid of. Luckily, we in India, have areas very clearly marked for this purpose only. If you get caught in a traffic jam somewhere near Parliament street, Boat Club, Jantar Mantar or Raj Ghat, you curse at the protesters. But they might be doing you a great service indirectly.

Kremlin loyalists say the protesters are dangerous extremists plotting a revolution.

Since when revolutions were plotted in the city centre square? And since when is a gathering extremist? Does the ruling party truly have something to be afraid of? Are they fearing another Russian Revolution? Anyway the Russian Intelligence agencies must be tapping each and every phone involved and bugged each and every protester\’s house by now. I\’m sure they know of all the plots.

Dissent is a characteristic of the original political systems that gave birth to democracy. Right from the days of Cicero and early Greek Senates, the right to debate and disagree are held fundamental. Protesting in public is just the masses\’ way of saying \”I Disagree!\” Vox Populi, Vox Dei.

Imagine this – you\’re filling a jar with sugar granules. You shake it a few times so that the granules align with each other and more space is made to put in more sugar. Dissent is that chaos in a Democracy. There are some shakes, but it makes for a more unified society in the long run. Cherish it, nurture it, indulge in it, coz without dissent democracy and liberty will die.

Poor Garry has a lot of Check Mating to do. Unfortunately, politics is far more complex and far less objective than Chess. Nevertheless, protest on Garry!

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

One thought on “Gathering, a Storm in Russia – Dissent and Democracy

  1. hmm…yes good observation about the contrast between Indian and Russian system. We are lucky to born in a democratic country. I heard one similar contrast between one of my friends form Pakistan. He was convinced that Indian is at an advantage because of Democracy. And the cause of failure of democracy in his home country he said was because of the early exit of freedom fighters form political scene. (almost all were assassinated, including Mr. Jinha)


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