Interfax: Russian March assesses degree of public discontent – policy expert

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW. Nov 5 (Interfax) – The relative serenity of the Russian March was based on the wish of its organizers to avoid “rocking the boat” and instead to assess public sentiment about migration and inter-ethnic relations, policy expert Nikolai Mironov said.

“It seems the March organizers did not want to disturb the peace. I think it was a test; they wanted to see how the public felt about the recent events in Biryulyovo and others. Anyway, certain forces, mostly external, want to exploit these feelings,” Mironov told Interfax on Tuesday.

The relatively small turnout proves that the Russian March was just a test, the expert said.

“The Russian March of November 4, 2013, was not as impressive as its organizers had declared it would be when they promised to bring plenty of people into the streets. In fact, they drew much fewer,” he said.

He thinks the organizers wanted to gauge public discontent, “which was not so much about the occasionally inappropriate behavior of migrants. It was rather a message to the authorities who were sometimes unable to provide order in [migration] affairs.”

“As you know, the authorities of certain cities are corrupt and deliberately permit situations to develop that lead to tension and conflicts,” Mironov said.

A response of the authorities and the opposition, including extra-systemic forces, to the Russian March would have been highly emblematic, the expert remarked.

“The tensions, the public sentiment and the Russian Marches are events that require some sort of response from the authorities and political forces, both the ruling and the opposition,” he added.

Some politicians have made their comments, Mironov said. “Some actors have given their answers. For instance, Navalny has made a rather careful remark. This is understandable: on the one hand, he supported the march and, on the other hand, he took no part in it. This is an attempt to preserve his connection to the electorate, and, on the other hand, he fears being too noticeable in this field and recognized as a radical. He has some conviction, after all,” the expert concluded.