But the crackdowns have only helped mobilize greater dissent. Saturday in Moscow saw the biggest anti-government turnout yet this summer, with an estimated crowd of close to 50,000 people. Though the protests remain largely centered in the Russian capital — and drawn from the same urban, middle-class base that fueled huge demonstrations in 2012 — they come at a time of mounting economic woes.
“The summer of discontent has posed a challenge not only to city authorities but also to President Vladimir Putin,” wrote my colleague Will Englund. “A harsh police and prosecutorial crackdown the previous two weeks has failed to deter the protesters, and some have portrayed it as a sign of weakness on the part of the government.”
In Hong Kong, the rolling protests and police clampdowns are building tension. A general strike last week paralyzed the city. In response, China has sought to punish strikers; Hong Kong’s flagship air carrier Cathay Pacific was told to ban any of its employees who participated in the strike from working on routes to mainland China. Ordinary residents complain of tear gas rising into their apartments, while videos on social media show how locals in myriad neighborhoods have been seen taking to the streets at night to berate “provocative” police officers in their midst.