And where does one cross this imaginary line and become a potential public enemy? We, young Russians, have been struggling to figure it out for more than a decade. However, at this point we seem to have finally guessed the answer: "Don't get political."
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin and his team managed to win over numerous young urbanites working in creative industries by a series of steps lumped together under the term "blagoustroistvo"
— "an untranslatable Russian word referring to the improvement (and/or beautification) of public services or infrastructure," as defined by The Calvert Journal
. Severe police violence during recent protests in the capital has forced a significant part of them to admit that they must have mistaken picturesque parks for a possibility of a democratically elected, representative government. Unnecessary "please-do-not-surround-our-favorite-bars-with-heavily-armed-policemen" manifestos abound in the media, the story remains the same: "You don't get all political, otherwise we'll go for disproportionate tit-for-tat countermeasures one more time."
This is the very scenario now involving Egor Zhukov, a political science student from Moscow. Zhukov is at risk of spending the following three to eight years in prison for "mass rioting," i.e. making a pointing gesture with his hand at one of the opposition rallies and nothing beyond that.
Ageing decision-makers from the Kremlin did not have their Woodstock and sexual revolution; nevertheless, they occasionally resemble Hillary Clinton awkwardly striving to be on the same page with younger voters. Whereas Hillary tried to overcome the generational gap with the help of her campaign advisors, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is interested in brand new gadgets, iPhones in particular, which state propagandist Vladimir Soloviev once called the traditional attribute of "2% of shit" attending opposition demonstrations. We are quite used to such paradoxical things' coexistence.
20th-century poet Georgy Ivanov ruthlessly declared once: "And no one now can bring us aid, / Nor even needs to any more." His words may at times still sound strikingly relevant, but now we do need your support and your awareness of what is going on miles away from you. Those born and living abroad could have many misconceptions about Russia; the only thing that matters now, though, is our common interest in fighting political repression and injustice.