I’ve been camping out with my fellow protesters in various places since Monday, the day of Putin’s inauguration. We’ve been chased out of several squares by the police, including from this one a first time on Tuesday, but have managed to stay put here since Wednesday. The police get mad if we use tents, so we have sleeping bags, and use a generator for electricity. If we get chased out again, it won’t matter; we’ll just find another place.
"Occupy Abai" is a space for freedom. It’s the next logical step after the large, authorised marches. The authorities did not listen to the people’s grievances, so if we have to continue protesting in an unauthorised way, so be it.
Here, we all have different political ideas, but we agree on one thing: the parliamentary and presidential elections , which were fraudulent, must be annulled. We want new elections to be held, and we won’t leave until we get them.
Beyond the elections, our list of grievances against Putin’s government is long: officials are in the oligarch’s pockets, the press is not free, and to get decent medical care, people must bribe doctors… Then, of course, there’s the fact that dissent is not tolerated. Since we’ve started our protest, there have been countless arrests, and the government has sent Nashis
[pro-Kremlin youth] to come bother us. Sometimes they come dressed up as pigs. Other times they’ll come to the square and yell things like "Liberty to Israel" or start fights, just to give the police a reason to start arresting people en masse.
There may only be a few hundred of us at Camp Abai, which grows to a couple thousand in the evenings. But thousands more agree with us. People driving by honk their car horns in support all the time.