2016-05-04Monstration-8Monstrations (shortening of “demonstrations”) are the only thing I have liked about Russia  in the last 30 years. Launched in 2004 in Novosibirsk, monstrations gained popularity and were held in a dozen other cities of Russia. I like them for at least three reasons. First of all, the participants mock official demonstrations and slogans by making a travesty of them. It is done in witty way: on the surface a “monstrated” slogan may look quite innocent, apolitical, and not prosecutable at all, but the implied meaning ridicules the stupidity and insolence of the officialdom.  In Putin’s retro-Soviet Russia party functionaries and other bureaucrats are rather sensitive as regards any gibes directed at their god-like status.

Second of all, I like young people (and monstrators are mostly young) maintaining their right to look and to sound  absurd. In an authoritarian country, which Russia undeniably is, absurdism is a kind of social protest.

2016-05-04Monstration-12Lastly, many slogans exploit red-hot topics of Russian life and are built on a play of words, which makes them cross-culturally and linguistically attractive.

Here are a few “translatable” slogans and some pictures – to give an idea of this event held annually on May 1. The last picture presents a mock flag of the United States of Siberia, which is a reference to official statements that the U.S. “conspires” to break Siberia away from Russia.

1. Monstrators Go For Mocracy!

  1. Hell is Ours (the association with the annexation of the Crimea, which was accompanied by the motto “Crimea is Ours”)
  2. Spring Has Come –Monstrators Are Back (reference to the painting by the 19th -century Russian artist Aleksey Savrasov “Rooks Are Back.” The picture is known to every Russian. Once all of them had to write a high school essay “Rooks Are 2016-05-04Monstration-15Back” with Savrasov’s work mounted on a classroom blackboard).
  3. Were Were Made To Attend The Monstration. (this slogan scoffs at the mandatory attendance of communist civil parades in Soviet times.)
  4. “My Dad Makes Me Eat Porridge” (the banner is carried by a six-year-old boy)
  5. “Onwards – To The Dark Future!” (the bureaucratic cliché has always been: ”… bright future.”)
  6. I’m bored by our smooth roads (roads in Russia are far from being smooth)
  7. Don’t’ Tell The Keepers that I’m Here (the guy is wearing a straightjacket).
  8. Forbid to Ban!
  9. “Lift Up The Black Square: Malevich Is Our Elder Brother (the slogan is rhymed, which attributes more power to it.)

2016-05-04Monstration-13bSome banners are absolutely empty, but are still  being carried by the monstrators. On one of such banners you may read: “I had no time to write anything.”

Incidentally, an absurdist approach was used by a guy in Moscow who wore a Putin mask and had a sign “War Criminal” on his chest. Eventually he was detained by the police: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gq3cvDsmyw


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