Because standing and listening to political speeches in the cold can be a little tedious the fourth time around, the organizing committee behind this winter’s opposition protests in Moscow decided on something a little different for their last protest before the March 4th Presidential elections: a big white circle. (I wrote about the elections, and Mikhail Prokhorov, the oligarch, Nets owner, and opposition contender—and occasional rapper—in this week’s New Yorker.)
The conceit is simple: come out to the Garden Ring, which girds the center of Moscow in ten miles of multi-lane highway, and hold hands. Oh, and wear your white ribbons, which have been the symbol of the protests. There is no permit to get, nothing to discuss with the authorities.
The result was stupendous. I got in a cab and did the full loop and filmed the denser sections, in three parts (the first is above): some stretches, especially in the north, were quite patchy. I also didn’t quite catch the clumps of pro-Putin kids holding red hearts reading “Putin Loves Everyone.” But if you watch the video, you’ll get the general idea. As you can see, traffic, despite the weekend, has slowed to a crawl. Cars are honking. Some have tied white ribbons to their windshield wipers and let them run: a robot-like answer to the grinning, waving people on the sidewalks.
You can also see that Moscow, especially in a coat of gray winter slush, is not the friendliest of cities—something anyone who’s been here can attest to—which made it that much more moving to see it as it was today, encircled with a ten-mile smile.
Moscow’s Big White Circle[TNY]