MOSCOW — Amid the chaos of the Kievskaya metro station near central Moscow, young people waited silently for the train to arrive. In their hands they carried fistfuls of white ribbons – the opposition’s symbol calling for clean elections on Sunday.
One tall young man, Benjamin, particularly stood out. In a sea of fur coats and designer shoes, his purple pants, earring, and moppish hair set him apart.
When the train doors opened the group joined the masses pushing to get on. It was well past the morning rush hour, but the cars were nearly full.
As soon as the doors closed Benjamin set to work. Swiftly and quietly, he tied one of the ribbons to the handrails. A quick double knot and a gentle tug and he pivoted to repeat the act.
Some passengers offered smiles of support. Nobody stopped him. On the crowded train passengers let him pass by as he decorated the subway car in the color of the opposition.
The idea, he later explained, was to surround Moscow with white, just as thousands did last Sunday when they lined the city’s ring road waving their ribbons. This was his final, silent protest before Sunday’s election.
When the doors opened, Benjamin and his friends spilled out into the station. There they waited for the next train to arrive. When it did, they pushed their way on and, as it pulled away, Benjamin began looping a white ribbon through the handrail.