“Hanging out”, Creativity, and Right to the City: Urban Public Space in Russia Before and After the Protest Wave of 2011-12
The article discusses the issues of urban public space in Russian cities in the context of the anti-electoral fraud protests in 2011-2012. The role of urban public space and its contestation has become central to the debate on the worldwide wave of Occupy movement, but it is important to contextualize the protest movements in national and local developments in public space use. Therefore, the article focuses on the post-socialist transformations of public space in Russian cities, St. Petersburg and Moscow. Attitudes, representations, and perceptions of public space are studied on the basis of media analysis (including mass media, blog entries, as well as official documents). The analysis shows, that the importance of the space in Russian anti-electoral protests in 2011-2012 was significant, the protesters strived to reclaim the central and symbolically loaded parts of the city, and thus regain the political authority as well. The way of reclaiming the space is now not only organizing rallies and protest street actions, but also a variety of direct actions aiming at transforming the urban space.