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It was home to the giant rallies of the late 1980s and the defense of the Russian parliament during the hardliners’ coup of 1991, which precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union.Moscow has continued to be a hotbed of opposition during Putin’s tenure, even as the federal government pours billions of dollars into urban improvement and new transportation infrastructure.“The authorities understand that a voter in Moscow requires a more sophisticated approach—straightforward suppression of the opposition doesn’t really work,” said Abbas Gallyamov, a political consultant who used to work for the government supervising regional election campaigns.Rusakova, 55, a social psychologist, has been an activist since before the Berlin Wall fell.In 1988, she joined Memorial, an organization that researches state-sponsored violence under the former Communist regime (and which has been targeted by Putin’s campaign against “foreign” agents).But suppression is not the answer, he added, since “it will lead to a more aggressive protest movement consolidated around politicians of the Navalny type.”So for now, while party strategists ponder how to deal with this new reality, the liberals are gaining experience doing something they probably thought impossible under Putin—governing, if just a little bit.The central administrative area of Moscow includes 10 districts, of which five have majority-opposition councils, four are evenly split, and one is controlled by pro-Kremlin deputies.
Putin, 65, is widely expected to seek a fourth term next year, and win.
From his office in the middle of the city, Sobyanin presides over Moscow’s City Council (which is controlled by Putin allies) and appoints the heads of district council executive boards, or upravas.
The upravas oversee the activities of liberal councils like the one in Gagarinsky.
Activists and ordinary residents filled the rest of the room, often interrupting deputies with questions and long-winded addresses.
(Apart from Rusakova, the deputies generally don’t get paid.)Sitting quietly was the newly appointed head of the district’s uprava, Yevgeny Veshnyakov.
This envelopment of the Kremlin by political enemies may serve Putin’s purposes by keeping activists focused on broken elevators and potholes instead of publicizing corruption or seeking higher office.