Russia's Federation Council: Decline in Russian protests results from opposition's failure to offer concrete program

Protest sentiments in Russia have started to decline because the opposition has nothing to offer to the public, said Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko.

"I would like the public to finally hear what exactly protestors want, because we only hear 'down with all and everything' and 'all are thieves, all are corrupt,'" Matviyenko said in an interview with Interfax.

The impression is that "demonstrators and those who brought them" are not really interested in any positive change, she said. "A rally for the sake of a rally - this is hopeless. The absolute majority of people will not follow such slogans. So I think that rather than increasing, as forecasted by some political analysts, protest sentiments will, on the contrary, only fade away," the speaker said.

An increase in housing and utility tariffs will not force people to take to the street, she said. "There is no denying, a tariff increase has always been a painful thing. And yet it alone is unlikely to prompt an outburst of protest sentiments. This requires more serious grounds," Matviyenko said.

Today there are no major economic or social reasons to talk about a likelihood of mass protests, she said. "We are not cutting salaries or pensions, as was the case in Greece, for example. On the contrary, salaries are growing, albeit slower than we would like them to, but growth is there. Pensions are growing, there are no cuts to social benefits, no scaling down of social support programs for the poor, the unemployment rate is falling," Matviyenko said.

The biggest protest was the one in December 2011, when people turned up to defy the results of the parliamentary elections, she said. "This was a concrete agenda, this was a protest by people who believed that the elections were dishonest and unfair. And the authorities heeded to the protestors by passing a package of reforms in the country's political and electoral systems, including party building," the speaker said.

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