On August 12, Vyacheslav Markhaev wrote on his Instagram page: “Instead of hearing out [protesters’] claims by organizing a dialogue, the administration found it easier to rely on force that was excessive in many cases.” The text was remarkable because Makhaev is a member of Russia’s Communist Party and a sitting senator in the Federation Council, as well as a former riot-police commander with 27 years of service. He says the actions of police officers and National Guard troops in Moscow in recent weeks has been “unlawful and professionally illiterate.” Makhaev’s comments about Moscow’s protests are sharply at odds with statements from other lawmakers. For example, Andrey Klimov, a fellow senator and chairman of Russia’s State Sovereignty Protection Commission, has accused the West of inciting activists. Communist leader and State Duma deputy Gennady Zyuganov, meanwhile, says the protests in the capital are the “evil grin of orange shenanigans” (referring to political unrest in Ukraine more than a decade ago). Meduza special correspondent Kristina Safonova asked Senator Markhaev why he’s decided to speak out in support of Moscow’s protesters, despite the hard-line positions of his colleagues and fellow party members.



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