Millions wonder if Putin was booed by crowd

Nov 24, 2011
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A video that may or may not show hundreds of Russians booing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a mixed martial arts match this past weekend has gone viral. Almost 2 million people have now watched the video of the incident, which took place on 20 November after Putin appeared in the ring to congratulate Fedor on his victory. While the organizers and Kremlin claim that the crowd was razzing the defeated American fighter, Jeff Monson, many believe the audience’s anger was directed at Putin.

 

In any case, fierce arguments are raging on the Russian Internet about the speech. As Global Voices reports, popular blogger and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny posted videos of the speech with the provocative title of “The End of an Era,” which has produced almost 3,000 comments. Brian Whitmore, over at RFE/RL’s Power Vertical blog, writes that Monson’s Facebook page is now filled with comments from Russians who insisted that fans were booing Putin and not him. As Whitmore notes, “This must be very disturbing for the Kremlin. Those who attend martial arts fights like the one in Moscow’s Olympic Stadium Saturday should constitute a key part of Putin’s base – and once did. If he is losing them, that is an ominous sign indeed.”

While many have accused Navalny of wishful thinking, others have pointed to declining approval ratings for Putin and United Russia, and suggest that the incident could represent much deeper resentment across society that might manifest itself in the coming years, once tough, cost-cutting measures are inevitably enacted.

This post was written by TOL staff for the news roundup Around the Bloc.


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Transitions Online

Transitions Online (www.tol.org) is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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