30 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2011
Date Written: April 1, 2011
The main question on which this paper focuses is this: What conditions determine whether a group carrying out protests in Russia is more likely to be successful in attracting support by recruiting people to participate in its activities and gaining sympathy from the majority of the population? There is strong agreement among experts on Russian society and politics that protests in defense of abstract, general rights do not appeal to most citizens. This paper focuses on groups using protest tactics that have been more successful in gaining support, such as the Defenders of the Khimki Forest. The evidence that is presented in this paper suggests that Russians are more likely to take part in an organized group if it seeks remedies for concrete problems that directly affect them and their families. The appeal to felt needs that are grounded in everyday experiences also seems to be an important factor that helps a group to evoke a favorable response toward its actions among broad circles of the general public. For those doing scholarly research, to interpret the development of civil society in Russia mainly in terms of the struggles of human rights groups and political opposition movements would lead the researchers to neglect the activities of most social organizations in Russia and the complex realities of the settings in which those organizations strive to serve the interests of their members.
Keywords: Russia, protests, civil society, Khimki, semi-authoritarian
JEL Classification: P31
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