I remember myself standing there, tense and stern in a crowd, screaming “anti-govermental slogans while assisting in unapproved actions” as police clerks name it. I screamed because what I saw was inhuman and I was animal angry. I screamed because it was the only thing I could do then, as well as writing a new tweet every minute just to keep a form of connection with everything while staying behind the enclosure.

It was late February 2014, freezing; Winter Olympics was about to end and it was already crystal clear Russia would have the gold; the Ukrainian conflict was just at its beginning, Maidan was a just word for politically obsessed hipsters. No one actually cared about eight innocent people having their sentences pronounced at one of the most dishonest trials of the recent years – Bolotnaya Square Case.

Two days of trial – two days of protest around the court building. I can’t tell how many people came: in their hundreds or not more than 10, it did not actually mean anything, it was not able to change anything. Activists, oppositioners, leaders, the mess of people, pressed to each other, cramped by OMON – I stood shoulder to shoulder to Nadya having quick words with her. Then men came with faces that were temperate and mannequin, strong masculine bodies fully equipped. At first they took the most loud ones or those who had placards. They tore through the wall of crowds, cut in, took someone and forced them into the AvtoZak. Sometimes the crowd resisted by circling the forces and extruding them. Now however, everyone knows: if you resist, even verbally, your punishment is automatically many times harsher. But the resentment grew, the crowd transformed into one living creature with only one aim – protection: not from the forces, which take people and drive them out to nowhere, but from the flagrant injustice of what was happening inside the court building and outside. Soon, they started to take men, then young lads, then – everyone they saw. There was no hate or spite or anything in their eyes, only the orders they received, these toy soldiers.

My brain had never been as clear as it was then. I was there, everywhere in the crowd, trying to beat off the forces amongst my fellow brothers and sisters. I was not afraid of being taken, I was only afraid for my friends. I was the organism together with everyone there.

They took me a week after, 1 March. Navalny got sentenced, Putin sent troops into Crimea. Manezhnaya ploschad cntained about 500 people having no actual placards, not even screaming, just standing there. It was a sunny beautiful morning as I remember. Two men hooked me in their arms and after the one hour ride I was at the police office, where the officer took my passport and refused to give it back until I signed some papers.

I was 18 when I got the sentence, the minimum of it: a 10,000 rubles fine, money worth a month of living. But it made me even more angry. The difference was that it was now anger from a feeling of weakness, it still is. I felt small and meaningless. I looked  at the city right after you’ve been bruised in a crowd or kept at the office for three hours, and wished they knew what the government did to those who were not supposed to stand out. I do not mean myself, I mean the Bolotnaya Case political prisoners. Once I felt alive, and united, I don’t any longer.

As time passed, the opposition leaders who called us to come to the protests have disappeared or are back to their routine duties. Sometimes they post some sly comments about the recent events in Russian politics, but no one actually believes in anything from anyone now. The time of change has gone. The Bolotnaya Case was the end, the final chord. Unfortunately, no one even followed it.

Now, the Olympics have been won, Crimea is ours, and Ukrainian brothers are not going to be abandoned to the West. And Putin is the main figure, the Hope and the King, and we support him, because he seems to protect us from the gay/evil/fat/Obama-ruled evils of the West. The protest is something that can no longer exist, not because it will be broken up, but because no one will come, not even the “leaders”. They no longer know what to be opposed to, what to protest against and what aims to pursue. I don’t know too. I just feel that there is something still not right. But I can’t identify the cause because it is a slowly developing feral disease, that is itching somewhere inside and will explode one day.


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