Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Russia's "Babushka Revolution"

The Turkish Press calls it the "Babushka Revolution." We discovered it shortly after returning to Moscow--a series of protests, sit-ins, and complaints by pensioners outraged that Vladimir Putin was cutting their free transportation on public transit and other benefits, replacing them with a lump-sum not sufficient to even buy metro tickets, some 200 roubles a month (a little more than $6.00). This would be akin to ending Social Security benefits and senior citizen discounts in the USA and replacing them with a lump sum.

The Communist Party immediately took advantage of this, organizing mass rallies, shutting down traffic on the main road to Moscow airport, Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, etc. Putin backed down somewhat at a press conference, but that it happened at all shows a lack of the intelligence that Putin is famous for.

Russian "Babushkas" are all over the television, the most dominant figures in media, portrayed as pushy, determined, and fearless. I wouldn't want to mess with them, myself...