It’s not just Hong Kong, pay attention to Russian protests

For many weeks now, we’ve been kept abreast of the protests in Hong Kong, ever since Beijing tried to push through a bill allowing extradition to the mainland, and then tabled it instead of removing the proposed legislation all together. We’re not even half way into the “one country, two systems” 50 year plan, and Xi Jinping may have overestimated the value of his consolidated power and leadership. But while the whole world is focused on Hong Kong, there have been protests occurring in Moscow for weeks as well, and the reaction there should be (although not surprising) just as alarming to the rest of the world. The Russian protests, initially in Moscow but then spreading around the country, are significant for two reasons. First, they’re about local elections (e.g., city council seats); and second, they’ve engendered the biggest “police” crackdown since Putin’s return to the Kremlin in 2012. This is significant because it’s paving the way for Putin entering his third decade in power and cementing his authoritarian rule, at a time when Russia is systematically attacking the West through social media and social engineering to undermine democracy, using Ukraine as a testing ground for cyberwarfare techniques, and simultaneously testing the limits of NATO and the EU.

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