(MOSCOW) — Protestors opposing Russian President Vladimir Putin have been denied permission to march through Moscow on Saturday, prompting defiance from some, but hopelessness in many others.
Alyona Bykova says that while she enthusiastically attended a similar protest a year ago, her enthusiasm has waned.
Last December, “we had a feeling that history was happening right before our eyes,” she recalled. Now, she says, “I don’t really see what could change.”
Police have warned Russians not to test them by marching. In the past, they have responded with force, polarizing opposition members who have either grown more outraged or more cowed in the face of violence.
Bykova does not think the situation in Russia has improved. She is disillusioned with the repeated protests that she says have accomplished little over the past year. She sees little chance they’ll work now.
“We can work on this downstairs level,” she says, referring to local campaigns that she still remains involved in. “But upstairs is untouchable. There’s nothing we can do. To make Putin go away, there’s nothing we can do.”
Authorities sent another shot across the bow today when they rolled out new allegations of money laundering against prominent protest leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and his brother. Navalny tweeted that his family’s apartments and businesses were being searched.
Even so, Bykova says she feels alienated from her former comrades.
“Now it seems like there are radicals on both sides,” she added. “I don’t really see the point of going out.”
She still feels that Russia is on the cusp of change, but thinks it may be farther down the road than she had hoped.
“I would say we will see see some huge changes soon. Probably in the next three to five years. But right now it seems like things are getting worse just to get to the next step. I really hope that this is the case,” she said. “It’s still going on, but not that fast.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Margot Haddad, Livia Borghese and Angela Dewan, CNN
Karla Pequenino, CNN
Ben Westcott, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN