Afraid, as he should be

Meduza reported from Moscow yesterday:

On Monday, December 23, Moscow’s Tverskoy Court sentenced municipal deputy Yulia Galyamina to two years probation.

Galyamina was found guilty of repeatedly violating the rules for conducting rallies and pickets… State prosecutors were seeking a three-year prison sentence for the Moscow lawmaker.

Anyone who has met Galyamina would laugh at the thought of her leading a violent protest: all those rallies have been as peaceful as humanly possible in a large city like Moscow. All the same, seeing large crowds protesting in the streets scares the hell out of the Kremlin. Fear is the driving force of its repressive domestic policy. As Galyamina said in her address to the court:

I am <a> teacher, a municipal deputy, a politician who advocates for non-violent change, for honest political competition, for a decent life for people. I, a woman, pose a threat to a man, who, it would seem, enjoys all possible power. But this man is still just a little man, who is afraid of soft, feminine power. He’s afraid because, as yesterday’s show [Putin’s annual press conference] showed, he has absolutely nothing to offer the people of Russia other than cheap pasta and violence.

I would replace “soft, feminine power” with “the soft power of women” or “female soft power” to better back-translate the Russian calque of the fixed expression, “soft power.” Other than that, the message is pretty clear.

Physically, Putin is not as minuscule as Sarkozy or the brothers Kaczyński – he’s simply a man of average appearance and below-average height. However, his actions and attitudes often betray pettiness and meanness: a little man, indeed, with nothing to offer but his fears and animosities. He’s always been driven by negatives; he understands control but not creativity; he appeals to the worst in people, seldom to the best.

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