In 2006, when she was political adviser to Garry Kasparov, the chess king disliked by the Kremlin, she was attacked and badly beaten — she thinks because of her human rights work.
Only a few weeks ago, Litvinovich was lamenting that people were not yet ready to stand up, despite their familiarity with the government’s abuses and its shortcomings.
And then there the people were, out on the streets, informed by the blogs, summoned by Facebook, hurried along by Twitter.
“What did the Internet give us?” she asked. “It gave people the opportunity to get united, and people did it with pleasure.”
Her mother grew up fearing Stalin’s terror — the dictator had exiled Olga Morgunova’s grandparents to Siberia, along with their children. Millions of Soviet families bore the trauma of those times.
But Morgunova grew up unburdened by the collective suffering. She was born in 1989, two years before the Soviet Union collapsed, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost and perestroika was making the political winds blow more freely.
When she heard about protesters gathering the day after the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections, Morgunova knew she had to go.
She had never even considered going to a demonstration before, and she knew her mother back home in staid and pro-Putin Tula, a city of half a million 120 miles south of Moscow, would not approve.
But Morgunova, 22 and working full time as an IT manager while finishing her economics degree at night, decided she could no longer watch from the sidelines. She had never doubted that Putin’s United Russia party would outpoll its rivals, but she was shocked into action when the final count gave the party only about 50 percent of the vote, while election monitors reported ballot stuffing.
She called her mom. In Tula, United Russia won about 62 percent of the vote. Her mom shrugged it off as business as usual.
Morgunova thought otherwise.
“I don’t like politics at all,” she said. “But we’re tired of our government looking at us like a faceless crowd. I went to that first protest expecting a few hundred people, and there were thousands. We went not in favor of the opposition but because we were tired of the government.”
That first demonstration ended when hard-faced, well-muscled riot troops known as the Omon violently dispersed protesters and threw 300 in jail. When the melee started, Morgunova and her friends walked unhurriedly to the subway, forcing themselves to look nonchalant, as if they were simple passersby. They made it.